I am the light that is on all things.
I am the All:
Everything exists through me,
Everything takes place in me.
Break a piece of wood,
And I’m there.
Raise a stone,
And you’ll find me there.
– Gospel of Thomas, 77
Esoteric Christianity in Anthroposophy
Esoteric Christianity is, together with Rosicrucianism, an integral part of Anthroposophy. For Anthroposophy, Christianity is a current that is first brought into the world through the mission and actions of Christ Jesus, which culminate with the Mystery of Golgotha and the Resurrection. Subsequently this current assumes the characteristics of a religion, that is Christianity, of which there is an exoteric face, that is public, and an esoteric one, reserved for initiates, of which the first schools originating after Christ were Gnostic, then merged into the school of Dionysius the Areopagite with the doctrine of the 9 Angelic Choirs.
The esoteric Christianity present in Anthroposophy, takes up all these ancient traditions and reinterprets them in the light of the Science of the Spirit. By means of this approach, Steiner takes into account all the spiritual beings that populate the supersensible worlds, managing to hold together the vision of the Christian world and therefore with the center the Trinity, with the polytheist one, with the plethora of gods. We could therefore define Steiner’s esoteric Christianity as a “Polytheistic Christianity”, or even an enoteism, in which Christ and by extension the Trinity, is at the center of the cosmic evolution that proceeds by means of the evolution of its individual individualities, which are the gods, or the Angelic Hierarchies, men, and the Kingdoms of Nature.
The continuous metamorphosis of Being, that is Consciousness, and of Life through Form is central to Anthroposophy. Unlike many other cosmogonies, it contains a strong empowering element that highlights first of all the links between the cosmic spirit and the human spirit. Anthroposophy is in fact centered on the development of the ego, the spiritual principle in man: we avoid falling back into the body-soul dualism, mending the bond of the human being tripartite in body, soul and spirit; with the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The individual spiritual element is brought to maturity in the West by Steiner’s Spiritual Science. The centrality of the human ego stands out by taking into consideration the cornerstones of the anthroposophical world view:
- In Anthroposophy, individual judgment does not take place through God, understood as Trinity, but through the capacity for discernment of the Ego on the astral body, with the assistance of the Spiritual Hierarchies. Only later, at the Final Judgment, or the passage to the next incarnation of the Earth, the Christ will be the judge of humanity as a whole, an event which for the initiate corresponds to the encounter with the Great Guardian of the Threshold;
- Moreover, until the end of the current metamorphosis of the Earth (the second half of the fourth metamorphosis, called Earth-Mercury) the passage in the states of Hell-Purgatory-Paradise are only temporary and follow one another in the period between death and the next incarnation. They are states of consciousness within the kama-loka, astral world, in which the purification of the ego takes place from what, being linked only to the body and the earth, is not essential to the subsequent incarnation;
- Finally, the Final Judgment described by the Apocalypse of John corresponds to the passage to the next incarnation of the Earth, the Future Jupiter. Here the matter will be spiritualised to ether, which will be its most dense manifestation;
- It follows that the resurrection of the body is not of the mere physical body, as we know it in a single incarnation, with its idealised personality, but it is the Spirit-Man, or physical body transformed by the conscious action of the I in the matter through experience (or in the interpretation of Prokofieff, the Resurrection Body).
- The evolution of individuality becomes immutable only to the division to 666 (6th planetary incarnation of the Futura Venere; 6th round; 6th globe) or to the last possibility of redemption of evil, which presents itself in three different natures: Lucifer, Arimanic and Asuric . There will therefore be an apocatastasis, but not total. The spiritual mission of humanity as a whole is to redeem evil, spiritualizing matter: the more evil is evil, the higher will be its spiritualization;
- Souls after death actively choose the conditions of the next incarnation on the basis of past experiences and future projects, thus being able to redeem themselves until 666. Reincarnation is coupled with the tripartite conception of man, and is inserted in a completely context Christian;
- The unrepentant sinners of Catholicism, or damned souls, are in Anthroposophy the “incorrigible souls” beyond 666: they are those who will have consciously chosen one of the three natures of evil. They will be part of the Black Moon, also called the Eighth Sphere: they are not destroyed but are added to the ranks of obstructive, Luciferic and Arimanic spirits. The Eighth Sphere is indeed their alternative planetary metamorphosis to the Earth. Their destiny will separate from the rest of spiritual evolution.
Anthroposophy, despite having these cornerstones in the world view, does not propose them in a dogmatic and absolute way, as it is the content of a method, the Science of the Spirit. In this regard, the conscious reintroduction of reincarnation into Christianity was the spiritual task of the birth of Anthroposophy in the world. Reincarnation, present since the origins of Christianity, in the so-called primitive Christianity, now reappears in a completely scientific-spiritual form. Anthroposophy restored the denial of the spirit and reincarnation, banned as doctrines of the Gnostic churches during the Council of Constantinople IV of 869.
All the work of Steiner, as a scientist of the spirit, is aimed at making the human self evolve towards the spiritual worlds in a completely conscious way, even in complete incarnation in the physical body. The Science of the Spirit aims to establish a balance between the Arimanic risk of remaining tethered in the materialism of the physical body and the Luciferic risk of being lost in the empty spiritualism of the astral body. The danger, in fact, is to make the individual ego remain in a state that is only partially embodied, of the group (the flock), making it depend on any external doctrine and not on its own foundations.
However, it is not a question of opposing dogma against dogma. Indeed, the Science of the Spirit asks us that the Anthroposophy itself be made its own through individual experience, through conscious understanding, that is the ego. This experience is the esoteric foundation of cosmic evolution through the reincarnation and metamorphosis of the Ego.
The Christian-Esoteric Way of Initiation
The initiatory path of esoteric Christianity or Christian gnosis follows the events of the life of Christ Jesus, according to seven levels or stages. It derives its origin in Gnosis, the inspired knowledge of Christ in particular applied to the Gospel of John, the most spiritual, which must be used by the disciple as a real meditation manual.
From the external point of view, it is the only gospel in which every word must be taken in a literal sense, just as every word of Christ is the one truly pronounced at the time of his incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel of John allows the disciple a real journey through time in full consciousness. But from the interior point of view, therefore of the Gnosis, the Gospel of John becomes a means for the inner metamorphosis: the Gnosis frees Sofia from her earthly prison, allowing her to know the Christ, her promised spouse. The man who celebrates these weddings awakens his divine spark which, when awakened, ascends to the conquest of the Archons, reaching the fullness of the Aeons, the Pleroma and taking part in it.
The precondition for this initiatory path is that we have faith in the existence of the Son and that it was incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth according to the words:
In the beginning was the Logos,
the Logos was with God
and the Logos was God.
He was in the beginning with God:
everything was done through Him,
and without Him nothing has been made of everything that exists.
In him was life
and life was the light of men;
the light shines in the darkness,
but the darkness did not accept it.
A man sent by God came
and His name was John.
He came as a witness
to bear witness to the light,
because everyone believed through Him.
He was not the light,
but he had to bear witness to the light.
He came into the world
the real light,
the one that illuminates every man.
He was in the world,
and the world was made through Him,
yet the world did not recognize him.
He came among his people,
but his own people did not accept him.
But to those who accepted it,
gave power to become children of God:
to those who believe in his name,
which do not from blood,
neither from want of meat,
nor by the will of man,
but from God they have been generated.
And the Logos became flesh
and came to dwell among us;
and we saw his glory,
glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth.
– John 1: 1-15
Reciting John’s prologue, especially in Greek, allows us to summarize the four parts of the Holy Mass:
- Gospel: the Word of God reaches human beings through understanding, which in its esoteric meaning is Gnosis;
- Offer: it is the free offer to God of part of the human being;
- Transubstantiation: the human element thus sacrificed becomes transubstantiated in the divine;
- Communion: man is united with God.
Meditation will have to be conducted every morning for six months, so that the soul of the disciple can penetrate to the depths. Afterwards, we arrive at the seven stages of the actual initiation, shown by Chapter 13 of John onwards. It is a question of meditating on the sufferings suffered by Christ and on the mysterious events that took place after his death on the cross.
The Christian-Esoteric path is then divided into seven initiatory degrees:
- Washing of the Feet;
- Crowning of Thorns;
- Mystic Death;
- Burial and Resurrection;
The Christian esoteric way aims at making the disciple a mystic, according to seven attributes of the life of feeling, which are also the seven degrees of Christian-esoteric initiation:
- Washing of the Feet: how the plant is grateful to the mineral soil for its very life, so the animal is grateful to the vegetable. Man must be so in respect of all the three Kingdoms of Nature who sacrificed themselves for him to be a human being. Thus the Christ sets a good example: the Creator washes the feet of the creatures closest to him, the 12 apostles. How would we feel? This is the meditation for this first stage. The disciple of esoteric Christianity will feel his feet externally immersed in water, while inwardly he will see himself washing the feet of the 12 apostles.
- Flagellation: the second meditation teaches that physical pain and soul suffering must always be addressed, even if they come from all directions, without stopping. How would we feel? Every pain comes that is inflicted is in fact a test to overcome in order to expand one’s conscience according to love. Externally the body of the disciple is traversed by spasms, tingling and contractions while inwardly it is seen scourged instead of the Christ.
- Crowning of Thorns: the third meditation concerns our most sacred and spiritual part, what we would never question is instead publicly debated. How would we feel? The disciple must accept that his most sacred part is not accepted by others, without opposing them. He will feel a circle around his head that will correspond to seeing himself crowned with thorns instead of the Christ.
- Crucifixion: the body must be considered a mere object that we carry with us like many others. The identification of the Ego with the body must be broken so that it is placed below its spiritual principle. When we have meditated enough on this feeling, by objectifying the body, signs will appear in the flesh in correspondence with the wounds inflicted on Christ Jesus on the cross: it is the “proof of the blood” followed by the so-called stigmata. They are five: two at the hands, two at the feet, one at the right of the side. Usually only redness is visible, but it can get to bleed without being infected. They can be permanent or temporary, and are usually conferred on Good Friday. Inwardly one will feel helpless, suspended above the cross.
- Mystical Death: the meditative feeling develops that the disciple is part of the whole, that his being belongs to the cosmos like a limb. As this feeling grows, a veil of darkness falls around the consciousness so that nothing is perceived. Consciousness now feels the pains of all creation as its own. It is the descent to the underworld that can last a long time (becoming the so-called depression). When we reach the culmination of this experience, we reach the foundation of existence, the I, so that we see the spiritual world: the tearing of the velarium.
- Burial and Resurrection: when the disciple in a meditative state feels his body as an object made of the same substances as the whole Earth, then he feels buried in the earth. Any mineral, vegetable or animal will be as close to it as its own body. He will finally enter the Soul of the World which is the soul of Christ according to the words “He who eats my bread, tramples me with his feet.” – John 13:18.
- Ascension: it is the celestial journey that takes place when the soul abandons the reflection of the brain (lunar) for the spiritual thinking of the ego (solar). It is not possible to describe the sensations.
Compare these stages of initiation with those of the Rosicrucian Way of Initiation.
This inner way is particularly suitable for those who are closer to the “contemplative life”: it is the way of the mystics who encounter the inner Christ through the feeling of the soul, in the microcosm.
However it is good to remember that according to the Gnosis, not all men can aspire to the mystical path and therefore obtain this state. There are three types of men:
- Hylic: in which the body prevails, animal sensuality, enjoyment as an end in itself that precludes every possible Gnosis and therefore ascent;
- Psychic: in which the soul prevails, they yearn for Gnosis but do not yet possess it. They can reach it if they miss sentimentality and passions;
- Pneumatic: in which the spirit prevails, they possess Gnosis as an intuitive faculty of the spirit. They can choose to help psychics reach it by becoming masters.
Meditations must have constant feelings of humility and devotion. Once achieved, the soul of the disciple rises again within the spiritual world. It is a path facing the past, that is, it shows the sequence of events immediately preceding the Turning Point of the Times, at that 33 d.C. in which the descending parabola of the evolution of humanity became ascending again. It is a true Imitatio Christi, the imitation of the Christ, which allows us to relive the events that led to the Mystery of Golgotha step by step while maintaining our conscience today. It requires a sabbatical period, of withdrawal from active life, especially in rural areas, high mountain areas, or vice versa in desert areas and little populated areas, which allows to observe the lunisolar rhythm and close to sacred places. After having achieved the seventh stage, you can return to living in society.