Youth of Sais

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Frontispiece to Gerhard Blasius: Anatome Animalium,1681. A priestess unveils the veiled goddess to the appropriately prepared adept.
Raising of the son of the widow of Nain, altar panel by Lucas Cranach the Younger, c. 1569, in the Stadtkirche Wittenberg.

The youth of Sais is said to have lifted the veil of Isis in a forbidden manner. Plutarch describes the statue of the veiled Isis that is said to have existed in Sais in his Moral Writings, "On Isis and Osiris". The statue is said to have carried the following inscription:

„In Sais, the statue of Athena, who is also believed to be Isis, had the following inscription «I am the All, the Past, Present and Future, my veil no mortal has yet lifted».“

Plutarch: On Isis and Osiris, C9[1]

According to Rudolf Steiner, the youth of Sais who dared to lift the veil was reborn as the youth of Nain, mentioned in the 7th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, who was the one through whom Christ was raised from the dead. In him the whole Egyptian-Chaldean culture was alive and this celebrated its resurrection in the Christian sense through the revival, which was at the same time an initiation. This enabled this great initiate to become in the next incarnation Mani (Manes), who founded Manichaeism.

„Manes is that high individuality, embodied over and over again on earth, who is the guiding spirit of those who are there for the conversion of evil.“ (Lit.:GA 104, p. 162ff)

„The youth of Nain in the Gospel of Luke is no other than the youth of Sais; the difference between the spiritual environment of the third and the fourth cultural age is concealed even in the names. The young man of Sais wanted to know the secrets of the spiritual world unprepared; like the other initiates, he wanted to become a "son of the widow", of Isis, who mourned for her lost husband Osiris. But because he was unprepared, because he wanted to unveil the image of Isis and see the heavenly secrets on the physical plane, he fell to his death. No mortal could lift the veil of Isis at that time. The young man of Sais symbolises the impotent wisdom of Egyptian times.

He is reborn, he grows up as the youth of Nain, he is again a "son of the widow", again he dies in youth. And the Christ Jesus draws near as the dead man is carried out of the city gate. And "much people out of the city" was with his mother; it is the multitude of the Egyptian initiates. They are all dead men burying a dead man. "And when the Lord saw them, he was sorry for them". He was sorry for the mother who stands there as Isis, who was the sister and wife of Osiris. And he said: "Young man, I say unto thee, arise!" "And the dead man arose and began to speak, and he gave him to his mother." - She has, after all, descended to earth, the former Isis; her powers can now be experienced on earth itself. The son is given to the mother again; it is now up to him to unite himself completely with her. "And the bystanders praised God and said: A great prophet has arisen among us". For in the young man at Nain, the Christ Jesus, by the kind of initiation which this resurrection represents, had sunk a seed which could only come to flower in his next incarnation.

A great prophet, a mighty teacher of religion became of the young man of Nain! In the third century AD, Mani or Manes, the founder of Manichaeism, first appeared in Babylonia. A peculiar legend tells the following about him.

Scythianos and Therebinthus or Buddha were his predecessors. The latter was the disciple of the former. After the violent death of Scythianus, he fled with his books to Babylonia. He too fared badly; only an old widow accepted his teachings. She inherits his books and leaves them to her foster son, who is twelve years old and whom she has adopted as a seven-year-old slave boy. This son, who can also be called a "son of the widow", appears at the age of 24 as Manes, the founder of Manichaeism.

His teachings contained all the wisdom of the ancient religions, and he illuminated them with a Christian gnosis that made it possible for the confessors of the Babylonian-Egyptian starry wisdom, the followers of the ancient Persian religion, and even the Buddhists from India, to penetrate themselves with an understanding of the Christ-impulse in this form.

This soul, which previously lived in the youth at Nain and was initiated by the Christ in this way for later times, when that which was contained in Manichaeism and which has by no means come to full development, will arise for the salvation of the peoples of the ancient Orient, - this soul in its incarnation as Manes has worked in preparation for its actual later mission: to bring about the true harmony of all religions.“ (Lit.:GA 264, p. 228ff)

According to Rudolf Steiner, in the 4th century A.D. Zarathustra, Buddha and Scythianos, who were originally his predecessors, became the great spiritual disciples of Manes. This impulse later gave rise to the Mysteries of the Rose Cross.

„There is now called a fourth individuality in history, behind which is hidden for many something even higher, even more powerful than the three entities mentioned, than Scythianos, than Buddha and than Zarathustra. It is Manes, who is called like a high messenger of the Christ by many who see more in Manichaeism than is usually seen. Manes, many say, gathered around him three important personalities of the fourth century of the post-Christian era, a few centuries after Christ had lived on earth, in one of the greatest gatherings that ever took place in the spiritual world belonging to the earth. This pictorial description is intended to express an important spiritual cultural fact. Manes gathered these personalities together in order to discuss with them how the wisdom that had lived through the turn of the post-Atlantean era could gradually revive again in the future, ever more and more, ever more glorious and glorious. Which personalities did Manes gather in that memorable assembly which can only be reached through spiritual vision? One is the personality in which Scythianos lived at that time, the re-embodied Scythianos of Manes' time. The second personality is a physical reflection of the Buddha who reappeared at that time, and the third is Zarathustra who was reincarnated at that time. Thus we have a college around Manes, Manes in the middle, around him Scythianos, Buddha and Zoroaster. At that time, in this college, the plan was established as to how all the wisdom of the Bodhisattvas of the post-Atlantean time could flow ever more strongly and strongly into the future of humanity. And what was decided at that time as the plan for the future development of earth culture was preserved and then carried over into those European Mysteries which are the Mysteries of the Rose Cross. In the Mysteries of the Rose Cross, the individualities of Scythianus, of Buddha, of Zarathustra have always dwelt.“ (Lit.:GA 113, p. 191f)

Later, the former youth of Sais was reborn as the "pure fool" Parzival and chosen to be the guardian of the Holy Grail (Lit.:GA 264, p. 230). He became so only after long wanderings, since when he first encountered the Grail he had neglected to ask the decisive question. But to ask questions in the right way, i.e. not with the mind but with the heart, is in the present consciousness-soul age the necessary condition for an initiate to reveal spiritual truths.

{{GZ|Another should not ask. He is well enough known who should not ask: the youth of Sais should not ask. For his doom was that he should ask, that he should do what he ought not, that he should have that the image of Isis should be revealed. The Parzival of the time before the Mystery of Golgotha, that is the youth of Sais. But in those days he was told: "Beware that what is behind the veil should be revealed to your soul unprepared! - The young man of Sais after the Mystery of Golgotha is Parzival. And he should not be specially prepared, he should be led to the Holy Grail with a virgin soul. He misses the most important thing, because he does not do what was denied to the youth at Sais, because he does not ask, does not seek for the revelation of the mystery for his soul. Thus the times change in the course of the evolution of mankind!|148|165)

In 1459 Manes became the initiator of Christian Rosenkreutz:

„Within this whole stream, the initiation of Manes, who also initiated Christian Rosenkreutz in 1459, is regarded as a "higher degree": it consists in the true realisation of the function of evil.“ (Lit.:GA 262, p. 24)


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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  1. Plutarch: Über Jsis und Osiris - mit Übersetzung und Erläuterungen herausgegeben von Gustav Parthey (German, 1850)