Biography Work as Communication with Spirit 

Biographical Work Through Our Connection with the Hierarchies



In order to understand human beings and humanity’s biography, we must learn about the kingdoms underneath us – animals, plants and minerals – but also the kingdoms above us, named – the Higher Hierarchies. Steiner often spoke about the fact that those hierarchies live among us, and that our lives today consist of ancient experiences and spiritual impulses that those hierarchies had experienced.

In the biographical work conducted in our School, Hotam, we use this during our work with our students and occasionally also with our patients. We find that the ability of a counselee to sense and understand the connection between his personal experiences, especially the difficult ones such as – emptiness, dread, alienation, the sacrifice he needs to make for his development, etc – and the deeper and wider context of the connection to the hierarchies and the spiritual world (in this case – Ancient Saturn), is an important link between a person and the cosmos, that could provide meaning, consolation, and strength in the continuous  pursuit of spiritual development.

In the lecture series entitled “Inner Realities of Evolution”, Rudolf Steiner attempts to describe our planet earth’s evolution through the existence of ancient Saturn, ancient Sun, and ancient Moon – from the aspect of the Higher Hierarchies.

While in the book “An Outline of Occult Science”, R. Steiner describes the cosmic evolution from a more ‘external aspect’, in the five lectures on the Realities, he describes the spiritual experiences of the Hierarchies themselves, in a more lively and experiential manner. In these lectures he explains that the source behind each element that is perceived by the senses, is a spiritual entity. According to Steiner, we could grasp the spiritual entity that stands behind the external world elements, only if we experience it through our soul. Our soul’s experiences will enable us to recreate the connection between the external earthly senses perception, and the spiritual reality.

“Why do we do this at all, why do we set value on following up an age so far behind our own? It might well be objected: for what reason do students of Spiritual Science bring up such primeval subjects for discussion at the present day? We really do not need to trouble ourselves about these ancient matters, we have quite enough to do with what is going on now in the world!

It would be wrong to speak in this way. For what has once happened is fulfilling itself continuously even at the present day. What occurred in the time of Saturn did not only take place then — it goes on even to-day; only it is covered over and made invisible by what to-day surrounds man on the physical plane. And the ancient Saturn-existence which played its part so long ago, has been made utterly invisible to us; but it still somewhat concerns man even now, this old Saturn-existence.”

Steiner, Inner Realities of Evolution, 1911, lecture 1, GA 132

We would like to propose a workshop with two different focused subjects that revolve around this topic:

1st subject: the dread of ancient Saturn and the courage of the Spirits of Will

In this session, we will concentrate on the experience of ancient Saturn, as it is described in the book “Inner Realities of Evolution”. We will also focus on the Spirits of Will that play a central role at this stage of evolution. In the workshop we will first meet the experience of ancient Saturn as described by Steiner through meditation/art exercise. We will discuss the importance of the experience of dread of ancient Saturn in the personal biography and spiritual development, and will ask the participants to present examples for such an experience from their own biography.

Following, we will “meet” the Spirits of Will, again through meditation/art exercise. We will speak about the courage of those spirits and about the possibility of courage rising up from the experience of dread and the emptiness of Saturn. We will address the connection between courage and will, the ‘I’, and the importance of these traits for the students of spiritual science.

Relevant citations:

“You must think away everything that can be perceived by the senses, you must even think away your own inner world, in so far as this consists of the wonted working of the mind. Further you must think away from everything that is in the world, all the concepts you have within you. Thus you must remove from the external world all that the senses can perceive, and from the inner world all the workings of the mind, all conceptions. And now, if you wish to form an idea of that soul-disposition which a man must have if he really holds the thought that everything is taken away and man alone remains, we cannot say otherwise than that he must learn to feel dread and fear of the infinite emptiness yawning around us. He must be able to feel, as it were, his environment tinged and saturated with that which inspires dread and fear wherever he turns, and at the same time he must be able to overcome this fear by inner firmness and certainty.”

Steiner, Inner Realities of Evolution, 1911, lecture 1, GA 132


“If we wish to ascend clairvoyantly to the state of Saturn, we must prepare ourselves by acquiring a feeling, more or less known to everyone, that may be compared to the giddiness experienced on a mountain, when a man stands at the edge of an abyss and feels that he has no sure footing under him, that he cannot retain it in any place and wants to give way to forces over which he has no longer any control. But that is only the most elementary of these apprehensive feelings. For he loses not only the ground beneath him, but also what eyes can see, ears hear and hands grasp; in fact all spatial environment. And he can do no other than lose every thought that may come to him, in a sort of condition of dimness or sleep; and then he can arrive at having no perception at all. He may be so deeply absorbed in this impression that he can do no other than come to the condition of dread, which often is like a giddiness not to be overcome.”

Steiner, Inner Realities of Evolution, 1911, lecture 1, GA 132


 “Think of yourself as immersed in this sea — but now immersed as a spiritual being, feeling one with the Christ-Being, carried by the Christ-Being, swimming — though not in a sea of water but in a sea filling infinite space, a sea (there is no other description for it) of flowing courage, flowing energy. This is not simply a uniform and undifferentiated sea, but we meet here with all the possibilities and diversities of what we call a feeling of courage.” 

Steiner, Inner Realities of Evolution, 1911, lecture 1, GA 132


2ndsubject: Sacrifice – the Birth of the New Through the Sacrifice of the Old

In this session we will address the issue of sacrifice – its importance and necessity as part of the process of spiritual development. We will attempt to experience together the sense of warmth and inner bliss that are born through the act of sacrifice and show how sacrificing the old could bring about a new birth.

We will start with the image of the Spirits of Will – the Thrones – that, through their will, sacrifice their essence to the Cherubim. The act of sacrifice produces heat – all heat is the outcome of sacrifice. The sacrifice of the Spirits of Will is the one that gives rise to the spirits of Time – and adds the time dimension to ancient Saturn and to human evolution.

We will point out a few role models of self-sacrifice: Christ – the ultimate example of a human being that sacrificed himself, all the way from descending to earth, to the passage through physical death; Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac; Mahatma Gandhi; Mother Teresa; JanuszKorczak.

We will consider a three-stage process: thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis:

The thesis – the existing reality. In this case – the Spirits of Will.

The anti-thesis – the act of sacrifice

The synthesis – the birth of the new – in this case: the birth of time.

We will link this process to the biography of the participants that will be asked to bring forward biographical examples of inspirational cases in which they witnessed self-sacrifice that influenced their development and ability to devote themselves to the transcendent.

We will also link this topic to the question of mid-life and ask the participants to share biographical examples in which they had to sacrifice the old. Together, we will examine whether indeed sacrificing the old enabled rebirth in their lives.

Relevant citations:

“No man can know what warmth is who is not able to form a conception of what it means to be ready to sacrifice what he has, everything he possesses, indeed, not only everything he possesses, but also what he himself is. The sacrifice of the individual being, the soul’s determination to renounce individual being, so regarding it as to be ready to devote its best to the welfare of the world, wishing to keep back nothing of the best for itself; but gladly to offer it in sacrifice on the altar of the universe; if this becomes a living idea permeating our soul, it will gradually lead to the understanding of what lies behind the phenomenon of heat. Try to picture what in our modern life — even to-day — is bound up with the conception of sacrifice; one can hardly think that anyone sacrificing himself with understanding ever does so against his will. A sacrifice offered against the will argues some compelling motive; there must be compulsion. But this would not apply to what we are now discussing. The sacrifice that flows forth from a being as a matter of course is what is meant here. And if a man should make a sacrifice, not because he is forced to do so by any external motive, nor because he hopes to gain something by so doing, but because he feels within him the impulse to sacrifice, it is then unthinkable that he should feel anything but inner warmth of bliss. If we feel ourselves glowing with this inner warmth of bliss, it is an expression of what can be described in no other way than by saying that the one making the sacrifice feels himself warmed through and through, glowing with bliss. In this way it is possible for us to feel how the glow of sacrifice can come to meet us in the outer cosmic heat.”

Steiner, Inner Realities of Evolution, 1911, lecture 2, GA 132


“Let us imagine that a man were to see a real, genuine act of sacrifice, or that he were to picture to himself what we described in the last lecture as the sacrificial act of the Thrones, the Thrones offering up their sacrifice to the Cherubim — so that he is moved by the picture of the beatific sacrifice which he contemplates and which awakens the life in the soul. What would our souls feel through either the vision of the sacrificing Beings themselves, or by the picture we make truly living in our souls. If the feelings of this man are vivid, if the beatific sacrifice does not leave him unaffected, he will feel a profound feeling of bliss at the vision of the sacrifice; he will feel in his soul that it is the most beautiful deed, the most beautiful experience that can be called forth in our souls, the vision of the beatitude of sacrifice!”

Steiner, Inner Realities of Evolution, 1911, lecture 2, GA 132