Rudolf Steiner on The Meaning of Easter

(…) “We keep Easter, the festival of Resurrection, but in our materialistic outlook we have long ago ceased caring whether or not we have a real understanding of the Resurrection. We set ourselves at enmity with the truth and we try to find all manner of ingenious ways of accepting the cosmic jest — for indeed it would be, or rather it is a jest that man should keep the festival of the Resurrection and at the same time put his whole faith in modern science which obviously can never make appeal to such a Resurrection. Materialism and the keeping of Easter — these are two things that cannot possibly belong together; they cannot possibly exist side by side. And the materialism of modern theology — that too is incompatible with the Easter festival. (…)

The only possible way in these days for man to unite a right feeling with Easter is for him to direct his thought in this connection to the world-catastrophe of his own time. For in very deed a world-catastrophe is upon us. I do not mean merely the catastrophe that happened in the recent years of the war, but I refer to that world-catastrophe which consists in the fact that men have lost all idea of the connection of the earthly with that which is beyond the earth. The time has come when man must realise with full and clear consciousness that super-sensible knowledge has now to arise out of the grave of the materialistic outlook. For together with super-sensible knowledge will arise the knowledge of Christ Jesus. In point of fact, man has no other symbol that fits the Easter festival than this — that mankind has brought upon itself the doom of being crucified upon the cross of its own materialism. But man must do something himself before there arises from the grave of human materialism all that can come from super-sensible knowledge.

The very striving after super-sensible knowledge is itself an Easter deed, it is something which gives man the right once more to keep Easter. Look up to the full moon and feel how the full moon is connected with man in its phenomena, and how the reflection of the sun is connected with the moon, and then meditate on the need today to go in search of a true self-knowledge which can show forth man as a reflection of the super-sensible. If man knows himself to be a reflection of the super-sensible, if he recognises how he is formed and constituted out of the super-sensible, then he will also find the way to come to the super-sensible. At bottom, it is arrogance and pride that find expression in the materialistic view of the world. It is human pride, manifesting in a strange way! Man does not want to be a reflection of the divine and spiritual, he wants to be merely the highest of the animals. There he is the highest. But the point is, among what sort of beings is he the highest? This pride leads man to recognise nothing beyond himself. If the natural scientific outlook on the world were to be true to itself, it would have the mission of impressing this fact again and again upon man: You are the highest of all the beings of which you can form an idea. The ultimate consequences of the point of view that sets out to be strictly scientific, are such as to make a man turn pale when they show him on what kind of moral groundwork they are based — all unconscious though he may be of it. The truth is, we are today living in a time when Christ Jesus is being crucified in a very special sense. He is being put to death in the field of knowledge. And until men come to see how the present way of knowledge, clinging as it does to the senses and to them alone, is nothing but a grave of knowledge out of which a resurrection must take place — until they see this, they will not be able to lift themselves up to experiences in thought and feeling that partake of a true Easter character.

This is the thought that we should carry in our hearts and minds today. We still have with us the tradition of an Easter festival that is supposed to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. The tradition we have, but the right to celebrate such a festival — that we have not, who live in present-day civilisation.

How can we acquire this right again? We must take the thought of Christ Jesus lying in the grave, of Christ Jesus Who at Easter time vanquishes the stone that has been rolled over His grave — we must take this thought and unite it with the other thought which I have indicated. For the soul of man should feel the purely external, mechanistic knowledge like a tombstone rolled upon him; and he must exert himself to overcome the pressure of this knowledge, he must find the possibility, not to make confession of his faith in the words: ‘Not I, but the fully developed animal in me,’ but to have the right to say: ‘Not I, but Christ in me.’ ”


This extract comes from the lecture given on April 2nd1920 in Dornach.

With thanks to James Stewart and the invaluable Rudolf Steiner Archive.



Filed under Easter

8 responses to “Rudolf Steiner on The Meaning of Easter

  1. Jennifer Baer

    I AM my I AM Presence and I AM One with the I AM Presence of ALL Humanity. The center of my Universe is the Threefold Flame in my Heart. My Universe consists of every person, place, condition and thing in my life, conscious or unconscious, past or present, through obvious choice or through karmic liability. Within my Heart Flame I have the ability to Love my Universe FREE of all lower energies and thus I set myself FREE. Simultaneously, I assist every other point in my Universe to move forward in the Light.
    With this affirmation, I invoke the full Cosmic Force of the new frequencies of the Mother-of-Pearl Resurrection Flame into the Threefold Flame in my Heart. I now visualize myself in the center of my Universe with every person, place, condition or thing in orbit around my Heart Flame, some close, some at a great distance. I visualize each one receiving the uplifting frequencies of the new Resurrection Flame as it flows through my Heart Flame. In every case, this powerful Resurrection Flame is a greater force than any negative energy associated with that person, place, condition or thing. I AM now Loving FREE every point in my Universe, from its center, which is my Heart Flame. I remain in this elevated state of consciousness, and I affirm with deep feeling:
    I AM the center of my Universe.
    I AM a Force of God’s Resurrection Flame to all points in my Universe.
    I AM a Master over every vibration less than Divine Love.
    I AM Free. . . I AM Free. . . I AM Eternally Free.
    My Father-Mother God now envelop me in the most exquisite frequencies of the new Mother-of-Pearl Resurrection Flame. This Sacred Fire begins Resurrecting my physical, etheric, mental and emotional bodies into the full embrace of my I AM Presence.
    I breathe in deeply again and suddenly I feel the Resurrection Flame lifting me into higher and higher frequencies of Divine Love, Oneness, Reverence for Life, Eternal Peace and God’s Infinite Abundance. I pierce into the core of purity within each and every one of these celestial patterns, and the splendor of these glorious expressions of the New Earth permeate my Being.  
    A new level of Divine Wisdom is being Resurrected within my heart and mind. In a flash of Enlightenment I know, and fully understand…

    “I AM the Resurrection and the Life of the Immaculate Concept of Humanity and Mother Earth”
    “I AM the Resurrection and the Life of the Immaculate Concept of Humanity and Mother Earth”
    “I AM the Resurrection and the Life of the Immaculate Concept of Humanity and Mother Earth”

    And so it is. Beloved I AM, Beloved I AM, Beloved I AM That I AM.


  2. Jennifer Baer

    I forgot to say that the quote is from Patricia Cota Robles


  3. Another incompatibility would be the gnosticist outlook: the empty tomb is explained away with a non-material body, a spirit in human form. This mystical outlook was avoided by Edelmann (1746) and Steiner (1913) with their lost body hypothesis. A local earthquake rolled the stone away and caused the body to disappear in a crevice.
    This earthquake of 33 AD was mentioned by Matthew 28:2 (cf. 27:51) and confirmed by the American geologist Williams (2012).


    • Ton, I am not quite sure what incompatibility issue you are looking at, but the first part of chapter twenty of the Gospel of St. John indicates what was found at the site of the empty tomb.

      The Empty Tomb

      20 Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” 3 So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in.6 And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

      Steiner, of course, would reveal the fact that the body went into the interior of the earth with the earthquake. The reason is that the body of Jesus had received the Sun forces of Christ through the Seven Attesting Miracles, as described in the Gospel of John. This is the core element of the Mystery of
      Golgotha. A light-aura began to shine forth from the earth for the first time.


    • ‘And the materialism of modern theology — that too is incompatible with the Easter festival.’

      The disciples (John 20) had to find their way between a materialistic outlook (CW 131: ‘Where has the body gone? Who has taken it out of the grave?’) and a gnostic-docetic view (CW 15: ‘only an apparent “etheric” body that became visible to physical eyes’). The disciples (including Paul) had to combine their view of a naturally empty tomb with the appearance of a supernatural spiritual body (CW 131: ‘appeared to Mary in a changed form’).

      The historicity of two crucifixion events (local darkness and earthquake) in 33 AD was already discussed by Origen of Alexandria, and was connected to the empty tomb by Edelmann (Allison 2005). The natural combination of a whirlwind and scattered linen wrappings, described in CW148, seems to be Steiner’s original finding.
      “… in the other Gospels… something like an eclipse of the sun took place in the area around Golgotha … the darkening of the earth, the earthquake and the powerful whirlwind show at one point in the earth’s evolution how natural events coincide with spiritual events” (GA0148/19131218).


      • Steiner would reveal in CW 112 that for every one of the seven main attesting miracles [signs], as described in the Gospel of St. John, a measure of the Christ-forces went into the bodies of Jesus of Nazareth. Thus, over the three years in which Christ walked and taught in Palestine, in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, He progressively transferred His Power into Jesus.

        And that is why Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane to remove, or pass “The Cup” from him, but only according to the will of God. Herein, we have to consider that this cup represents the container, or containment of the forces passed from Christ into the bodies (etheric, astral, physical) of Jesus of Nazareth. This prayer of Jesus is successful, as Christ takes possession of “the Cup”, and thus bears His own Sun-forces to the Cross on Golgotha.

        “Steiner, of course, would reveal the fact that the body went into the interior of the earth with the earthquake. The reason is that the body of Jesus had received the Sun forces of Christ through the Seven Attesting Miracles, as described in the Gospel of John. This is the core element of the Mystery of
        Golgotha. A light-aura began to shine forth from the earth for the first time.”

        So, we need to distinguish between the empty tomb of the body sent into the interior of the earth, and the risen Christ, who first appears, and then “disappears” to the two people on their way back to Emmaus from Jerusalem, as described in Luke, chapter 24. They rush back to Jerusalem just in time to see Christ appear out of nowhere to the 11 disciples. This becomes the fundamentally correct, and Christian-Docetic position on what took place after the crucifixion. Christ rose in a spiritual body because the physical body had gone into the interior of the earth with the earthquake.


      • This spiritual body (Paul, 1 Cor.15) was not called an etheric body by Steiner (1911). It is a ‘phantom’ or form (real thought) of the physical body, connected to an etheric body. ”And it is only in this [Earth] period that the physical body received the Phantom.” (GA0131/1911101). At first, Mary Magdalene (John 20), the pilgrims of Emmaus and the eleven disciples (Luke 24) do not recognise this spiritual body. It seemed to be a mental body, a ghost, produced by a spiritual being.

        In his medical book (1925), Steiner called the form of the human physical body: the ego-organization that is build up by the human ego (GA027_c01).

        Already in ‘A Road to Self-Knowledge‘ (1912) Steiner made ‘the Attempt … to form a Conception of the Ego-Body or Thought-Body’. There the Ego-Body is ‘a sum of recollections’ produced by an Ego:
        “Only when clairvoyant consciousness has arrived at the point where it experiences, as a sum of recollections, that which it formerly considered to be itself, does it become possible to acquire real experience of what is hidden behind the phenomenon of death.” (GA016_c06).


  4. Dear Jeremy,

    It is, indeed, very interesting that Rudolf Steiner seems to give a somewhat bleak outlook with this lecture from April 2, 1920, at the time of Easter and its resurrection sentiment. He sees that materialism has a stranglehold on the human condition, and I think this pessimism has to do with the fact that in the month of March 1920, he gave both the Warmth Course, as well as the twenty lectures on Spiritual Science and Medicine. Thus, the lecture from 2 April is very reflective of the enormous task he sees in how materialism can be overcome in order to even begin to see these indications of the working of the Science of the Spirit.

    Exactly one year later, on April 2, 1921, Steiner began the course on Materialism and the Task of Anthroposophy, in which he stresses the fact that humanity had to come right down into the physical-mineral condition in order to first convey a soul-spiritual replica that could be built upon. So, the paradox here is that Steiner explains how materialism was inevitable, and entirely in accordance with the Fall into the human kingdom from our original Divine Heritage, which was to have been an entirely spiritual evolution. So, the Fall took place, but we have achieved all of the goals of the Fall, and this first lecture from GA204 expresses it with some rigor and concentration in order to fully appreciate. But, it conveys that we have done the job, and now we can truly accept our divine-spiritual heritage, having suffered the Fall. That is why Spiritual Science exists as a means to express all that we have suffered, and now stand as victors. Even Christ now speaks to the etheric heart, and helps prove the cause of it all.


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