Rudolf Steiner Reflects on Isis-Sophia, Theosophia, Sophia, Philosophia, Anthroposophia
The Holy Sophia is also another aspect of the Divine Feminine Trinity that is exclusive to the work of Rudolf Steiner. Emerson had pointed out that the natural human intellect was evolving over time but he did not attribute that evolution of consciousness to a “being.” Steiner tells the biography of Isis-Sophia from Her physical birth in 2100 BC to Her etheric, astral and ego births each 700 years, or so, thereafter.
The Realm of the Mothers: The Mater Gloriosa, Dornach, August 16, 1915, GA 161
The Mothers, who are also an “Ever-Feminine,” are three in number; the Mother, the Mater Gloriosa, is singular. Now these two kinds of striving – to the Mothers on the one hand, which places us in the period of evolution before the Mystery of Golgotha, and to the Mother on the other, the Mater Gloriosa, which places us in the period of evolution after the Mystery of Golgotha – don’t they show us with the their overwhelming poetic splendor what the Mystery of Golgotha has brought us? The three Mothers became the one Mother, the Mater Gloriosa, in that the human being has progressed to the point of being inwardly permeate by the “I,” in the manner with which we are familiar. And this transition from the Ever-Feminine as a trinity to the Ever-Feminine as a unity is one of the greatest, most wonderful, most beautiful of all the artistic enhancements in the second part of Faust.
Thus we see a being weaving its way through history for whom a century is as a year. And if we wanted to we could, I may say, write the biography of this being, who as regards spirituality is man’s superior to the extent that a century is longer than a year. Thus the historical birth of this being amongst mankind, that is, its first contact with it, took place in approximately 2100 BC. The beginning of the development of its etheric body was in 1400 BC, while the development of its astral body begun in 700 BC. GA 130
Abraham, then, was the first man to develop within himself an inner reflection of divine wisdom (the Sophia), divine vision, in an entirely human way as human thinking about ‘the Divine.’
And so out of the mists of the history of philosophy a being comes towards us to whom we look up as to a Goddess descending from the divine heights, whom we see young in ancient times and whom we see grow even if slowly, so that a century for her corresponds to a year in a human life.
For this is the essence of Anthroposophy, that its own being consists of what man’s being consists; and the essential quality of its activity is the man receives in Anthroposophy what he himself is and must place this before him, because he must practice self-knowledge.
Perception of the Nature of Thought, Dornach, 10 January 1915, GA 161
Something lives in history which passes through the etheric body, the sentient body etc., a real, actual Being. I said in my book that in the Grecian era thought was born. But in modern times it comes to actual self-consciousness in the consciousness soul: thought is an independent active Being. This could not of course be said in an exoteric book intended for the public. The anthroposophist will find it however if he reads the book and notes what was the prevailing trend of its presentation. It is not brought into it, but results of itself out of the very subject matter.
You see from this that very many impulses of transformation as regards the spiritual life are coming forward in our time. For here we see something evolving that is like a human being except that it has a longer duration of life than an individual man. The individual man lives on the physical plane: for seven years he develops the physical body, for seven years the etheric body, for seven years the sentient body etc. The Being which evolves as philosophy (we call it by the abstract name ‘philosophy’) lives for 700 years in the etheric body, 700 – 800 years in the sentient body (the time is only approximate), 700 – 800 years in the sentient soul, 700 – 800 years in the intellectual or mind-soul and again 700 – 800 years in the consciousness soul. A Being evolves upwards of whom we can say: if we look at the very first beginnings of Grecian philosophy this Being has then just reached the stage of development which corresponds in mankind to puberty; as Being it is like man when he has reached the 14th – 16th year. Then it lives upwards to the time when a human being experiences the events between the 14th and 21st year; that is the age of Greek philosophy, Greek thought. Then comes the next 7 years, what man experiences from the age of 21 to 28; the Christ Impulse enters the development of philosophy. Then comes the period from Scotus Erigena up to the new age. This Being develops in the following 700 – 800 years what man develops between the ages of 28 and 35 years. And now we are living in the development of what man experiences in his consciousness soul: we are experiencing the consciousness soul of philosophy, of philosophical thought.
Philosophy has actually come to the forties, only it is a Being that has much longer duration of life. One year in a man’s life corresponds to a hundred years in the life of the Being of philosophy. So we see a Being passing through history for whom a century is a year; evolving in accordance with Sun-laws though one is not aware of it.
And then only there lies further back another Being still more super-sensible than the Being that evolves as humanity except that a year is as long as a century. This Being that stands behind evolves in such a way that its external expression is our personal destiny, how we bear this through still longer periods, from incarnation to incarnation. Here stand the Spirits regulating our outer destiny and their life is of still longer duration than the life of those for whom we must say that a century corresponds to a year.
So you see, it is as if we look there into differing ranges of Beings, and how, if we wished, we might even write the biography of a Being who stands spiritually as much higher than man as a 100 years is longer than a year.
An attempt has been made to write the biography of a such a Being as had its puberty at the time of Thales and Anaxagoras, and has now reached the stage of its self-consciousness and since the 16th century has entered, so to say, into its ‘forties’. The biography of this Being has furnished a ‘History of Philosophy.’
From this you see, however, how Spiritual Science gives vitality to what is otherwise abstract, and really animates it. What dry wood for instance, is the usual ‘History of Philosophy’! And what it can become when one knows that it is the biography of a Being which is interwoven in our existence, but evolves by Sun-laws instead of Earth-laws!
It was my wish to add these thoughts to what we have been considering lately about the life-forces which arise in us when we look at Spiritual Science not as a theory but seek it in the guidance to living. And it is just through Spiritual Science that we find the living. What is so unalive, so dry, and withered as the history of philosophy comes to meet us out of the mist as though we looked up to it as a Goddess who descends from divine cloud-heights, whom we see young in ancient times, whom we see grow even if with the slowness where a century corresponds to a year of human life. Yet all this becomes living — the sun rises for us like the Sun within Earth existence itself. For just as the sun rises on the physical plane, so do we see the ancient Sun still radiate into the earthly world in a Being that has a longer lifetime than man. As we follow man’s development on the physical plane from birth to death so we follow the development of philosophy by seeing a Being within it. When in this way we look at what Anthroposophy can be to us we reach the point of seeing in it not only a guide to knowledge but a guide to living Beings who surround us even though we are unaware of them.
Awakening to Community, GA 257
Our modern ideal of thoughts and ideas can no longer have kinship with the Greek ideal, which felt thoughts to be inner witnesses to the divine. Nowadays we have to exert purely human forces, work in a purely human way, to develop thoughts. But once we have made the effort and achieved thoughts free of any taint of egotism, self-seeking, subjective emotionality or partisan spirit such as colors thoughts with prejudiced opinions, once we have exerted ourselves as human beings to experience thoughts in the form they themselves want to assume, we no longer regard ourselves as the creators and shapers of our thought, but rather as the inner scene of action where they live out their own nature. Then we feel the greatness of these selfless and unprejudiced thoughts that seem to be our own creations, and are surprised to find that they are worthy of depicting the divine; we discover afterwards that thoughts that take shape in our own hearts are worthy of depicting the divine. First, we discover the thought, and afterwards we find: The thought is nothing other than the Logos!
While you were selflessly letting the thought form itself in you, your selflessness made it possible for a god to be the creator of that thought. Where the Oriental felt thought to be revelation and where the Greek found it proof of divine reality, we feel it to be living discovery: we have the thought, and afterwards it tells us that it was permitted to express divinity. That is our scientific ideal.
Goethe’s Faust as a Picture of His Esoteric View of Life, 1899/1902
Within the human being, the connection with the “Ever-Feminine” brings to birth the child that is not transitory because it belongs to the eternal.
A being evolves upwards of whom we can say: At the very beginning of Grecian philosophy this Being has just reached the stage of development which corresponds in mankind to puberty; the Being is like a human individual at the age of 14-16. Then the Being develops through a period corresponding in man to the time between the 14th and 21st years: that is the age of Greek philosophy, of Greek thought. Then comes the period corresponding to the next seven years in man, from 21 to 28 years: The Christ-impulse enters into the development of philosophy. After this follows the period stretching from Scotus Erigena to the beginning of modern times: Over the next 700 to 800 years this Being develops what man develops between the ages of 28 and 35 years. And now we are living in the development of what man experiences in his consciousness soul: We are experiencing the consciousness soul of Philosophia, of philosophical thought. GA 161
The birth and evolution of the being of Anthroposophia is an extraordinary insight into human development provided only by Rudolf Steiner. These mysteries of Sophia are a key part of part will need to be understood in the future. Our spiritual development is in the hands of this being and She treats each of us as Her child. Anthroposophia prepares our souls as a bride for the wedding our spiritual soul to our higher self. She helps us create the grail vessel in the heart that is made ready for the groom who descends like tongues of flame at Pentecost. Anthroposophia is the new Pentecost of the Heart that purifies the spiritual soul to step across the threshold to the spiritual world. We can only step across the abyss with the help of our spiritual midwife, Sophia.