Rudolf Steiner on the Roots of Intolerance

At times like this, when nine people are slaughtered because of the color of their skin while praying in their church, words are hollow. But I remember fifty years ago when it seemed, from the outside at least, that light was being shed on the forces behind racism, and new understanding and acceptance were taking root. I thought it was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

I was wrong. For the sake of all the families who have lost loved ones to fanaticism, isn’t it time we identify the root cause of intolerance?’ This dangerous emotion lives in feelings of superiority, pride, fear and hate. Why has racism become so dangerously common? Is it the acceptance and fanning of extremist ideas? Is it mental illness? Why and how have the many facets of human existence—religion, politics, economics, education, health, culture—all become so polarized? Aren’t we responsible for this? Why is it now the norm NOT to cooperate for the higher good?

Ahriman world trade centerThere is a fascination today, and I am not digressing here, with the paranormal: ghosts, vampires, demons, etc., in novels, TV shows and movies. On some level, we humans understand there is more to these stories than meets the eye. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), was an Austrian mystic, philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist who saw into spiritual worlds. He consistently spoke of the battle between light and dark forces and the effects of spiritual beings on the physical world. If we don’t reverse the trend of the ever-expanding problem of violent intolerance, Steiner says life could end in a War of All Against All.


Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)

Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy (a path of insight which leads the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the cosmos), was a deeply devout man and while it may not be fair to him or to the reader to pull out a few paragraphs of his spiritual lingo from the book NATURE SPIRITS, his ideas are pertinent to the heart-wrenching issue of the growing and violent partisanship of our times:

“Matters which have a harmful result on the etheric body are bad laws, or bad social measures prevailing in a community. All that leads to want of harmony, all that makes for bad adjustments between people [causes] the accumulation in the etheric body . . . [of] detachments from beings working in the spiritual worlds [which are] now found in our environment—they are ‘spectres’ or ‘ghosts.’ We see [them] grow out of the life of human beings . . . For one who is able to see things spiritually, [the] physical body is crammed with phantoms, [the] etheric body crammed with specters. As a rule after a person’s death, all this rises up and disperses and populates the world.”

Steiner goes on to say,

“Think only how the modern man for the most part wants to overrule the mind of another, how he cannot bear someone else to think and like differently, how he wants to work upon the other’s soul. In all that works from soul to soul in our world, from the giving of unjustifiable advice to all those methods which people employ in order to overwhelm others, in every act that does not allow the free soul to confront the free soul but employs even in the slightest degree forcible means of convincing and persuasion—in all this, forces are working from soul to soul which again so influence these souls that it is expressed in the night in the astral body. The astral body gets those ‘enclosures’ and thereby beings are detached from other worlds and whirr through our world again as elemental beings. They belong to the class of demons. Their existence is solely due to the fact that intolerance and oppression of thought have been used in our world. That is how these hosts of demons have arisen in our world . . . beings which are just as real as the things we perceive through our physical senses, and which very definitely produce effects in human life. Humanity would have advanced quite differently if intolerance had not created the demons which pervade our world, influencing people continually. They are at the same time spirits of prejudice. One [better] understands the intricacies of life when one learns about these entanglements between the spiritual world and our human world.”

At the end of this quoted chapter, Phantoms, Spectres and Demons, Steiner says,

“Nothing symbolizes the permeation of the world with spirit so beautifully as the story of the miracle of Pentecost. When you contemplate it, it is as though the interpenetration of the world with spiritual life were indicated prophetically through the descent of the ‘fiery tongues.’ Everything must be given life again through the spirit; the yearly festivals must also become concrete and living again . . . if man does not absorb the [Pentecost] spirit, then the etheric body goes out of the physical body and is far too weak to overcome what has already been created, those worlds of spectres, phantoms, demons, which the world creates as phenomena existing at its side.” (Italics mine.)

I’ve also been reading a book called THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL, dictated by a man named Bernard Lievegoed (1905-1992) from his death bed. He knew some of Steiner’s contemporaries and studied Steiner’s works in depth. On the eighth and last day of dictation, just days before his death, he gave the last chapter called The Strategy of Opposing Forces, which I quote from here because it also applies:

“In [two] instances, we see spiritual beings [Lucifer and Ahriman] who have turned themselves against the cosmic order and who have made it their purpose to frustrate the human development which is directed to the achievement of individual freedom and spiritual autonomy. Both spiritual beings are assisted by great hosts of lower beings, in esoteric literature often called demons. Thus there are the Luciferic and Ahrimanic demons.”

“Rudolf Steiner always emphasized that it was of great importance to clearly distinguish both forms of evil. In fact, they are polar opposites. Lucifer strives for illusions, having created the caricature of the empty fantasy. He wants to lead the human soul away from the earth. Ahriman, on the other hand, wants to push the human being deeper into the earth, tie him more strongly to physical matter. He is the inspirer of the materialism that has become one-sided, and the creator of empty, abstract thinking that now predominates our society. He is the caricature of the empty computer ‘brain.’”

Mr. Lievegoed goes on to talk about the periods in human history when Ahriman tries to turn the world to darkness. He first,

“fills the human ego with pride and as a result, the human being is exposed to the temptation of magic which causes enormous natural disasters and was the end of Atlantean culture.”

Ahriman is defeated when the,

“Persians go all out to defend their Sun culture against the descendants of the Turanians [of Atlantis].”

He is defeated a second time when the Egyptians were able to create the pyramids (cosmic buildings),

“through spiritual harmonies sounded forth in musical mathematics.”

Ahriman then worked through a black magician who lived in Mexico at the same time that Jesus Christ lived in Palestine. The magician was defeated by Vitzliputzli and,

“was crucified at the same time Christ was crucified and the magical power of Ahriman was broken.”


“At the beginning of the ancient civilization of Greece, Lucifer and Ahriman decide to divide the spoils. Lucifer gets Greece and Ahriman the Latin peoples. Once again the leaders of humanity come into action. They introduce Greek philosophy as an antidote to the dreams of Lucifer. It is Aristotle who calls the Luciferic powers to a halt.”

“After the Greek and Roman times come the Middle Ages. Ahriman tries to achieve his goal by Ahrimanizing the world of Aristotle, by making it abstract and lifeless. This takes place in Arabic countries and spreads all over Europe. Then comes Thomas Aquinas, who strips Ahriman from the work of Aristotle and in fact, Christianizes it.”

Twice more Ahriman tries to threaten Christian culture and he is defeated.

Apparently Ahriman is owed a physical incarnation on Earth and Steiner told some of his associates that Ahriman would,

“do everything in his power to accelerate his incarnation to the year 1998. Whether he will succeed in this will depend on whether there will be enough people who see through his designs.”

I’ve quoted these texts because intolerance and all the -isms continue to accelerate and it does seem there is a dark and deep source of power. If these two fallen beings are after our human souls, and I don’t think anyone could make up Rudolf Steiner’s extensive and profound body of teachings, we need to wake up and speak out. We need to act before what we call ‘senseless acts of violence’ escalate to the point that they trigger mass destruction, not of our physical bodies, but of our souls. That really would be the end.

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