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Manes (Latin) is the popular name for the spirits of the dead, the ancestor spirits. This expression is, according to Steiner, related to manas (Sanskrit), the spirit self. It is only used in the plural, because after death the human being shows himself to be connected with a multitude of Archangeloi. In ancient Roman religion and mythology, the Manes were associated with the good Lares, Genii and Di Penates, who acted as protecting spirits, and with the evil, grimacing Larvae or Lemures, which were counted to the collective shadowy Dii inferi (from Latininferi "the dead below"[1]) belonging to death and the underworld.

In ancient Roman religion and mythology, the Manes were associated with the good lares, genii and penates, who acted as guardian spirits, and with the evil, grimacing larvae and lemurs, who were counted among the collective shadowy dii inferi, belonging to death and the underworld.

„We shall not be able to include the spirit self among the constituent parts, among the members of human nature without further ado, when we speak of the present human being; but a clear consciousness of the spirit self is present especially in such people as are able to see to the spiritual. You know that the entire Oriental consciousness, in so far as it is an educated consciousness, calls this spiritual self "Manas" and that Manas is spoken of as something living in man in the Oriental spiritual culture. But even in occidental humanity, if it has not become "learned", there is a clear consciousness of this spirit self. And I do not say without deliberation: a clear consciousness is present; for among the people - or at least that is what they called it before the people were completely taken over by the materialistic mentality - what remains of man after death is called the Manes. It is said that the Manes remain after death; Manas = the Manes. I said: the people have a clear consciousness of this, for in this case the people use the plural, the Manes. We, who scientifically refer more to the spirit self than to man before death, say in the singular: the spirit self. The people who speak more from reality, from naive knowledge, about this spiritual self, use the plural, speaking of the Manes, because at the moment when man passes through the gate of death, he is received by a plurality of spiritual entities. I have already indicated this in another context: we have our personal guiding spirit from the Hierarchy of the Angeloi; above this, however, we have the spirits from the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi, which immediately intervene when man passes through the gate of death, so that he then immediately has his existence in a certain sense in the plural, because many Archangeloi are intervened in his existence. The people feel this very clearly, because they know that man, in contrast to his existence here, which appears as a unity, then perceives himself more or less as a multiplicity. So the Manes are something that lives in the naive folk-consciousness of this spirit self, of Manas, which is present according to the majority.“ (Lit.:GA 293, p. 63f)

See also


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.


  1. Marcus Terentius Varro: De Lingua Latina, translated by Kent, Roland G., W. Heinemann, London (1938), p. 185–7