The Tau sign or Tau cross (also Saint Anthony cross), like the closely related Tao sign and the Egyptian Anch, stands for the all-pervading power of the divine Tao, of which people on ancient Atlantis still had extensive knowledge. It has the form of the letter T, whose phonetic value expresses the impact of the creative spirit into the material (in the broadest sense), i.e. created world:
„We can insert here that which the sound t means - Tao, t. You may know that one has a deep reverence for the Tao, t, if one understands what lives within it. This Tao, t, is actually that under which one has to imagine that it represents the important, even the creative, that which also radiates in an indicating way, but in particular radiates from heaven to earth. It is the important ray. So let us say this t: Significantly radiating from above downwards.“ (Lit.:GA 279, p. 65)
The Tau sign also symbolises the Rose Cross:
„Let us go back into the distant past of this earth, when conditions were quite different. Man lived in Atlantis, a land of fog. At that time, the air was permeated by masses of water and clouds of mist. A reminder of this existed among our ancestors in the stories of Niflheim, Nebelheim. Our human ancestors lived in this water-soaked air. They were not yet taught about the world in the way we are now. But in the waters that filled the air, wisdom itself dwelt. It sounded to them from the waters. Everything that surrounded them in nature had an audible language for people at that time. In the rustling of the leaves, in the rustling of the trees, in the trickling of the stream, in the blowing of the wind, in the rolling of the thunder, in the lapping of the waves, they heard a sound that proclaimed to them the wisdom of God. A sound rang out to them from all nature around them. This sound was wisdom, contained in the waters, signified by the Tao - T (the cross).
In our German language there is also a word for it. Let us look at the dewdrop of the morning as it accumulates on the blossoms - the name Tau is the same designation as the word Tao for that which the waters of wisdom revealed to man. The German word Tau means this. Tau in Latin means ros, and the cross is called crux. And roscrux means the same thing: the Tao sign, the cross, and the dew on the plants. This is the esoteric meaning of the exoteric sign, for the cross entwined with roses.“ (Lit.:GA 266a, p. 224)
The Tau sign or the Tau hammer also plays an essential role in the Temple legend. Hiram Abif, Solomon's master temple builder, wields the Tau hammer to summon the workers together by a kind of mass suggestion at the request of Balkis, the Queen of Sheba. Balkis then breaks off her engagement with Solomon to join Hiram. But Hiram is murdered by three journeymen whom he had not found ready for the mastery. The jealous Salomon had let them.
Two spiritual currents collide here. Hiram comes from the line of Cain, Solomon from the line of Abel or Seth. The Temple legend describes the (failed) attempt to unite these two currents, which had already failed in the Atlantean era and had led to the downfall of Atlantis through black magic forces.
„In the Atlantean period an attempt was made to unite these two classes, but it led to black magic of the worst kind. This is indicated in the Bible passage: "The sons of God intermarried with the daughters of men."
The arrival of the Queen of Sheba signifies the attempt of the present. Science, represented by Hiram, can now unite with the wisdom of the soul, symbolised by the Queen of Sheba. The nurse is the prophet looking into the future, the bird Had-Had is a spirit of intelligence descending to the soul and turning it from revelation, as represented by Solomon, to self-acquired knowledge, which finds its expression in Hiram.
The temple represents the development of the earth. Solomon is like a mirror that reflects cosmic wisdom without any effort of his own. Hiram, on the other hand, sees the image and works it out. He does not possess the ability to draw directly from the divine source; he is the material knowledge that can make objective what Solomon can only see.
That is why Balkis, the soul, becomes dissatisfied and breaks her bond with Solomon when she recognises Hiram's beauty, and she recovers the ring from Solomon's hand when he is drunk.
That Hiram wields the Tau hammer to summon the workers at Balkis' request symbolically represents the way in which all great, world-shaking events were brought about when they worked like ants for years to achieve a specific purpose: through the power of mass suggestion. This was used so that they came to work as if on their own impulse. It would be wrong to use such a power now, but in those days men were not so individualised [as now], and if temples were to be built to serve the progress of mankind, the priests then quite rightly needed such means to achieve their end. The Crusades and Joan of Arc's army are other examples of such mass suggestion. Sometimes fanatics, some of whom are without inner balance, are very strong in this direction.
When Hiram throws himself into the fire, he meets Tubal-Cain on the way. He leads Hiram to the centre of the earth (where the I-plant grows; Cain was a cultivator), and there they find Cain in his innocent state. Cain gives Hiram a new hammer and a new word.“ (Lit.:GA 265, p. 395f)
- Charles William Heckethorn: The secret societies of all ages and countries. Richard Bentley, London, 1875 (2 vols.) Vol. I, Vol. II. (Second 1897, Vol. I, Vol. II.) (German language edition Leipzig, 1900, translated by Leopold Katscher)
- Rudolf Steiner: Die Tempellegende und die Goldene Legende, GA 93 (1991)
- Rudolf Steiner: Zur Geschichte und aus den Inhalten der erkenntniskultischen Abteilung der Esoterischen Schule von 1904 bis 1914, GA 265 (1987), ISBN 3-7274-2650-0 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Aus den Inhalten der esoterischen Stunden, Band I: 1904 – 1909, GA 266a (1995) English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Eurythmie als sichtbare Sprache , GA 279 (1990) English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
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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Steiner Online Library - Spiritual Science for Human Evolution (Karin & Christopher Wietrzykowski)
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