Four Lectures Given in Stuttgart in September, 1907
Published by Anthroposophic Press in 1972
Book Notes by Bobby Matherne ©1996
Just as ice forms out of water, so does the physical body fashion itself out of the
etheric. -- Rudolf Steiner
Steiner compares the etheric body to the ocean, with currents flowing in all directions. In the etheric body are five main currents that, when one stands with feet apart and arms outstretched, form a pentagram. Someone with super-sensible sight sees the pentagram as an anatomist sees a skeleton of bones.
During Atlantean times the atmosphere was overloaded with moisture and pervaded by a
thick mist, so that outlines of the physical form were not perceivable, nor was the physical form
fully developed as we know it today. What humans of that time saw when someone approached
was the inner soul condition of the other, perceived clairvoyantly as a colored image that rose in the
observer. At the time of the Flood, when the mist poured from the air to cover the continent of
Atlantis with water, humans lost their clairvoyance and developed our current perception of the
What kind of form had the soul to experience when it escaped from the
Atlantean watery landscape into the new airy landscape? For the present body
to shape itself, the human being had to be surrounded by a form of definite
length, breadth, and depth.
Steiner points out that the ratio of the dimensions of Noah's Ark as given by God in the Bible, exactly corresponds to the ratio of dimensions of the human physical form: 30:5:3 in length, width and depth. It was as though God were specifying the physical dimensions of the ark (our physical bodily form) that would carry the consciousness of humankind into the Post-Deluvian stage. Atlantis, a major civilization, existed on the dry floor of what we now call the Atlantic Ocean and was inundated by thousands of feet of water from the heavy mists that rained upon the earth.
Steiner describes for us the four animals that represent man at the four stages of spiritual
being: earth, water, air, and fire. The snake is the symbol of the earth stage, the fish of the water
stage, the butterfly of the present air stage, and the bee of the future fiery stage. "The bee is the
symbol of the spiritual man who does not know mortality," Steiner says and talks of the whole
group soul of the hive as mirroring man both in an earlier stage of evolution and a future stage.
As men in the future will be able to call people into being through their
speaking, so it was that the forerunners of mankind, the gods, were gifted with
an organ with which they expressed all things that are around us today.
In other words, we shall become as the gods that created us, just as seeds shall become as the plants that created them.