SOS: Lecture 4: Devachan

This is one of a series of posts discussing Rudolf Steiner’s Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906. Visit the tag Science of Spirit for all posts on this topic. 

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In skimming through my past posts I’ve realized I haven’t touched on this since April, this is unsurprising, Steiner is not a quick read, and once again I’ve bogged down in the esoteric miasma of Steiner’s work. I fought my way though the purgatory state of Kamaloka so now I’ve arrived at the higher world. Right. What does Devachan hold for me?

The concentrated remnants of my astral body, and my previous astral bodies, which combine to create a newer richer astral body/a new element in man. Yeah, I’m going to need to re-read that a few times before I can fully wrap my head around this.

Devachan seems to be the transitional state between death and reincarnation. The diligent note takers cite three stages:

  1. The human corrects previous shortcomings, and gathers the fruits from his former lives as he prepares for his next incarnation
  2. “Life pulsates through reality, as through rivers and streams” … I’ve got nothing on that… the human uses this force to animate the fruit he gathered in step 1?
  3. The human objectively views his previous life’s passions, and incorporate particular qualities into the soul that will inhabit the body formed/fruit gathered in step 1

As I read it, Devachan is our chance to work through and understand our previous life experience, as people work toward a new incarnation. Interesting. It sounds like the Circle of Life for the Soul.


Additional Reading
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SOS: Lecture 3: Life of the Soul in Kamaloka

This is one of a series of posts discussing Rudolf Steiner’s Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906. Visit the tag Science of Spirit for all posts on this topic. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Kindism.org.


I had to brush a thick layer of dust off Founding a Science of the Spirit before starting this post, and skim my previous posts so I’d have some clue what I was getting back into. It has been a little while since I’ve delved into the esoteric world of Steiner and you really have to be in the right headspace to manage it. I’m trying, I’m not sure I’m there yet.

Good news/bad news: these lectures appear to be building on what we’ve read/talked about before. So far, they seem to give a very quick refresher of the previous lecture’s highlights before jumping into the topic at hand. In Lecture 3: Life of the Soul in Kamaloka, Steiner delves into the states of death and sleep and the various states of the seven members of the what comprises a man club.

Steiner first turns, briefly, to sleep (the younger brother of death), and the states of the astral and ego bodies, which “raise themselves out of the physical body” — apparently this is why we loose consciousness during sleep. Steiner then poses the question: “what does the loosened astral body do at night?” At night, the astral body “renovates the physical body” and renews the forces that have been used during the day.

The remaining portion of the lecture (and indeed, the bulk of it) is devoted to death, and what Steiner believes happens when a person dies. The etheric body leaves, followed closely by the astral body and ego. The person remembers all that has happened — apparently this can also happen if death seems imminent. Steiner refers to this as the “loosening of the etheric body” and considers it to be quite dangerous, this loosening can also happen via hypnotism, or if a person is in enormous danger. Try to avoid it.

Apparently when a person dies the etheric body eventually dissolves into the ether, and the physical body has deteriorated (I assume?), so what remains are the astral body and the ego. At this point Steiner lumps the astral body and ego together and simply calls them “the soul” —  and the soul, now separated from body, is working out it’s desires for sensation/sensory input in a state called Kamaloka… I googled this term, apparently it is Steiner’s equivalent of purgatory.

As Steiner puts it (or as the people taking notes on his lecture put it):

The soul is not tortured from the outside, but has to suffer the torment of the desires it still has but cannot satisfy.

The soul lives its life backwards, day by day seeing where it can learn from the past experiences. Reliving earthly joy, but  offering no satisfaction from it. The soul also experiences the suffering it causes to others. Apparently we must wean ourselves gradually from the physical wishes and desires so the soul can be free of the earth and ascend to Devachan (googled again, the heavenly world).

It seems the less materialistic and more enlightened the soul is, the less it suffers in Kamaloka. Apparently people stay in Kamaloka for 1/3 their previous life, and then their astral bodies dissolves. Once it is fully dissolved, a person can be reincarnated. Steiner is quick to point out there are exceptions to all this, of course, and everyone’s experience varies. No kidding.

The death/purgatory theme is not unique to Steiner, nor is death/purgatory/higher world, but he does put his own embellishments on it. The style of the note takers/translators made me loop back a few times to try and catch the details (I probably failed at that). Over all I was left with an unworldly sci-fi feeling with the various bodies departing in their own ways. I’m not sure I’m going to sleep too well tonight, I don’t know how I feel about  my astral and ego bodies running loose.


Additional reading

SOS: Lecture 2: The Three Worlds

This is one of a series of posts discussing Rudolf Steiner’s Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906. Visit the tag Science of Spirit for all posts on this topic. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Kindism.org.


I hope everyone has recovered from the Note about Notes and fully wrapped their head around that ball of madness that I summed up  as “a collection of metaphorical, occult lecture notes that talk about practical occultism, Buddi, and glowing auras.” This post is moving on to Lecture 2: The Three Worlds, and trust me, Steiner does not fail to disappoint (in making you feel like you want to smash your head into the desk, watch out for your computer).

Steiner starts with an objection that I find pithy at best:

What use to us is this knowledge you say you have of higher worlds if we cannot look into these worlds for ourselves?

I love to learn about other worlds (higher and otherwise), and very much enjoy documentaries about space and foreign lands, of the three worlds Steiner is speaking of, only one of them can easily explored by the uninitiated:

  1. The physical world, the scene of human life
  2. The astral world or the world of the soul
  3. The devachanic world or world of the spirit (I had to pause and look up devachanic, I think I am left more confused than not)

Steiner (or, more accurately the note takers) does not delve into the physical world, noting “everyone is familiar with it and the physical laws which obtain there” so we will go directly to the astral world.

Things are different in the astral world:

  • people will at first be bewildered
  • things appear reversed/mirror image, e.g. reading numbers backwards
  • people can see their passions and desires
  • time moves backwards, effect then cause — this is how prophecy is possible
  • thoughts and feelings are a reality
  • speaking truths creates life-promoting elements, lies/hostile forces destroy/kill
  • world of colors
  • this realm sets a foundation for morality

Highlights from the astral world that stood out me:

In the long run no mere preaching of morality will be effective, but a knowledge of truth gives morality a sound basis. To preach morality is like preaching to a stove about its duty to provide warmth and heat, while not giving it any coat. If we want a firm foundation for morality, we must occupy the soul with fuel in the form of knowledge and truth.

I like the imagery of preaching to a stove. People are the same way, unless you provide them the skills and tools they need to complete a task, how can they be expected to succeed?

If we speak the truth about our neighbor, we are creating a thought which the seer can recognize by its color and form, and it will be a thought which gives strength to our neighbor. … Every spoken truth creates a life-promoting element; every lie, an element hostile to life. Anyone who knows this will take much greater care to speak the truth and avoid lies than if he is merely preached at and told he must be nice and truthful. (emphasis mine)

This reminds me of Paul’s whatevers in Phillippians 4:8, but is slightly more fatalistic (bad thoughts damage the astral body). The “every lie, an element hostile to life” reminds me a bit of Ms. Eddy’s “malicious animal magnetism” although the focus is more on minding one’ s own thought than being harmed by the thoughts of others. I’m unsure if Steiner is going to elaborate on this — if anyone knows more on this, please leave a comment or email me — I’m rather curious about this aspect of it. Is it a universal idea among thinkers and philosophers in the mid-1800s?

Above the astral world is the devachan world, which comes with it’s own special features:

  • it is the world of spirit and musical sounds
  • heavenly bodies can be heard, harmony of the cosmos, everything lives in music
  • astral world remains fully present — hear  devachan, see astral, but changed
  • see in the negative “through photographic plate”
  • see in complimentary colors — red instead of green, yellow instead of blue

The Devachan realm has several regions

  • First region: see archetypes of the physical world that has no life, minerals, humans, plants and animals in very basic lifeless form (?)
  • Second region: life force of plants and animals can be seen clearly, no minerals — “ocean”
  • Third region, “atmosphere” feelings, emotions, pleasure and pain where ever they are active in the physical. Everything that has a life forms the “ocean” all emotion is in the atmosphere.
  • Fourth section: transcends everything that might still have existed if there was no mankind (HUH?!)
  • Askasha Chronicle (had to stop and look it up, and again, am more confused than not), the Akasha is a living collection of images, intentions, thoughts and imaginations.

I’m not totally sure I’ve taken anything from the Devachan world other than the need to re-read the section because I don’t totally get it. Steiner (and his note takers) talk about Goethe and Caesar and seances and living images, and it is a bit too surreal for me to wrap my head around at the moment.

The lecture concludes with the disconcerting notion:

Strange as these facts may seen, they are facts none the less.

Right then.


RESOURCES & additional reading FOR THE CURIOUS

SOS: A note about Notes

This is one of a series of posts discussing Rudolf Steiner’s Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906. Visit the tag Science of Spirit for all posts on this topic. 

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Part way through Lecture One: The Being of Man, I encountered an endnote that I wanted to check (I was not aware of who Jacob Boehme was, the endnote simply states: Jacob Boehme 1575-1624 mystic). On p. 153 of the text, I encountered not only the unhelpful endnote, but also an interesting Note on the text which read as follows:

The text of this particular lecture cycle is not based on an official transcript, but is compiled from handwritten notes made at the time by participants. It was on the basis of these versions, which include a number of discrepancies, that an edited and reworked edition was produced… . As they stand, therefore, the lectures reproduced here cannot be assumed to be Steiner’s precise words in every instance.

This is followed by an additional Publisher’s Note Regarding Rudolf Steiner’s Lectures on p. 157, which states in part

The lectures and addresses contained in this volume have been translated from German, which is based on stenographic and other recorded tests that where in most cases not seen or revised by the lecturer. Hence, due to human errors in hearing and transcription they may contain mistakes and faulty passages.

It then goes on to differentiate between members only lectures and public lectures, and what Steiner had to say about these things. I feel that is all is rather unimportant when you look at the first note on p. 153 and wonder why these notes were not placed at the beginning of the book, instead of the very end of the book.

This book was put together based on some people’s lecture notes. Having taken my share of lecture notes during my time at college other various talks, I wonder just how accurate a book compiled of lecture notes and then translated into another language can be. I’m not sure any of my professors would feel comfortable with a class compiling a volume of their works based solely off lecture notes (complete with margin doodles, short hand, and strange abbreviations).

So this is a collection of metaphorical, occult lecture notes that talk about practical occultism, Buddi, and glowing auras.

Right then. Onward to Lecture 2: The Three Worlds.

SOS: Lecture 1: The Being of Man

This is one of a series of posts discussing Rudolf Steiner’s Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906. Visit the tag Science of Spirit for all posts on this topic. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Kindism.org.


The first half of lecture one, The Being of Man, serves as Steiner’s introduction to his lecture series, and outlines his goal of giving a general survey of Theosophy, and begins by providing some background.

Steiner talks about occult brotherhoods which used to possess this knowledge. Secret groups, which only put forth their second-best members, or puppets, out into the public arena, while the most knowledgeable initiates stayed in the background, controlling it all. Secret, occult knowledge was passed through encoded messages, and only those with the key could break the codes. Knowledge was meant to be put to work — to have a practical influence on society and politics. Knowledge was not simply put forth to satisfy idle curiosity.

The advent of the printing press made this secret knowledge more widely available, and Steiner’s lectures start from the point of “practical occultism; they will contain nothing that is mere theory and cannot be put into practice” (p. 3).

At this point I had to stop and look up occult to see how Steiner might be using it. Personal bias points me towards

adj: beyond the range of ordinary knowledge or understanding; mysterious,

and unless I can easily find an original German manuscript and figure out a more exact translation, it is the interpretation I am going to hold to going forward. 

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SOS: Introduction by Brien Masters

This is one of a series of posts discussing Rudolf Steiner’s Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906. Visit the tag Science of Spirit for all posts on this topic. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Kindism.org.


The introduction of Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906 is written by Brien Masters, a well regarded waldorf teacher, lecturer and prolific writer.

In the very first paragraph, on the very first page of the introduction, Masters tells readers that the term “door” (or “Portal” or in German Pforte) is used metaphorically a concept that I am going to broadly apply to all of Steiner’s work to make it easier to sleep at night when I get to the later lectures on “Post-Atlanetean Cultural Epochs.”

Actually, I’m going to cling to the metaphor concept now as Steiner’s lectures are going to provide a general survey of inner spiritual realms of pure thought. Why it took four pages for Masters to say that is still unclear, and I’m left wondering if I missed some other salient message.

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the esoteric HUH?! of Rudolf Steiner

This is one of a series of posts discussing Rudolf Steiner’s Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906. Visit the tag Science of Spirit for all posts on this topic. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Kindism.org.


It is that time of year again, late summer/early fall when the children are busily packing off to school each morning and I am once again re-immersed in the quirks of Waldorf education and Steiner’s philosophies. Calling upon god and the angels to give us strength and clear our path, I have to remind myself to breathe at the parent meeting as the teacher recites a blessing. It is meant — in my mind at least — as allegorical, god as a metaphor for the Universe, I will continue to hold to this thought.

There is the issue of Christ as a “Representative of Humanity” which is a concept I still struggle with, I understand Steiner’s point, allegorically, but the loaded language of Christ comes with Christian Science baggage. The seasonal festivals have religious language, the rapidly approaching fall equinox celebration is Michaelmas, where the Archangel Michael slays a dragon. I have issues with angels, but I think I can make an exception for one with a flaming golden sword.

A slim volume, Steiner’s Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906 sits on my desk. Perhaps this year I’ll manage to read it. The fourteen lectures sound like possible titles for a cross between a pseudo-scientific Netflix show and a series of TED talks, and then some of them just left me going “HUH?!”

Now that I stop and think about it, is Evolution of the Mankind up to Atlantean Times really any stranger than everyone’s favorite weekly Bible Lesson Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced?  It was also a huge letdown, because we never actually talked about necromancy (yes, I was that child). I digress.

The first thing I noticed in looking these up is the titles vary slightly, as they were translated from Steiner’s original German into english. I am not sure I would be able to read Steiner in his original German. I struggled with Herman Hesse’s esoteric German in Siddhartha (good book, read it in the dual language edition) and I’m not sure if they even publish Steiner’s work in dual-language (so far the answer appears to be “not available at Amazon” but plenty of his other works are).

Esoteric strangeness aside, I would like to read Founding a Science of the Spirit in an attempt to better understand the underlaying foundations of the philosophies that are being used as the cornerstones of my children’s education. There are fourteen chapters, so my initial thought was I should try and read one a month, but that would make this project go on for over a year. One a week feels a bit too ambitious. One whenever I feel like it probably won’t happen, but I’m going to try anyway. So, keep an eye out for posts tagged Science of Spirit and join me as I dive headlong into the esoteric HUH?! of Rudolf Steiner.