Steiner Rudolf - The mission of the individual folk-souls in relation to Teutonic mythology

Author : Steiner Rudolf
Title : The mission of the individual folk-souls in relation to Teutonic mythology
Year : 1910

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Preface. written in 1918 as an introduction to these lectures given in 1910. In these lectures, which were given in Christiania (Oslo) in June 1910, I ventured to give a sketch of the psychology of the development of peoples. The lectures are based upon the teachings of Anthroposophy which can be found in my books Theosophy, Occult Science — an Outline, Riddles of Man, Riddles of the Soul, (Riddles of Man is not yet (1970) published in English. (yes it is, click the link — e.Ed) A translation of a section of Riddles of the Soul is published with the main title of The Case for Anthroposophy, with an Introduction by Owen Barfield.) etc. I was able to build upon this foundation because my hearers were familiar with the scientific views which are presented in my publications. That is the external reason for the choice of my point of view; there is however a further reason, an inner reason. The orthodox study of anthropology, ethnology, or even history cannot provide an adequate framework for a true psychology of the various folk characters. Neither the information provided by orthodox science, nor the study of anatomy and physiology suffice for an understanding of the psychic life of man. If we wish to understand the inner life of an individual we must study the soul as well as the body, and if we desire to gain real insight into national characteristics we must explore the psychic and spiritual element underlying them. This psychic and spiritual element, however, reflects not merely the activity of individual human souls working in concert, but has its origin in a higher order. The higher spiritual element is a province in which modern science is a total stranger. Before the bar of science it is paradoxical to speak of Folk Souls as real entities in the sense that we speak of the reality of thinking, feeling and willing in individual human beings; and it is equally paradoxical to relate the evolution of peoples on Earth to the forces of the heavenly bodies in space. But the matter ceases to be paradoxical if we recall that one does not look for the forces which determine the north-south direction of a magnetic needle in the needle itself. One attributes the deflection of the needle to the effect of the Earth's magnetic field but looks to the Cosmos for the causes of this deflection. Shall we not therefore have to seek the reasons for the development of folk characters, folk migrations, etc. in the Cosmos outside the peoples themselves? Apart from the anthroposophical view which considers higher spiritual Beings to be a reality, a totally new element is introduced into these lectures which sees a higher spiritual reality behind the evolution of peoples and seeks the forces which direct this evolution in this spiritual reality. We then investigate the facts which are manifested in the life of the peoples and we find that these facts become intelligible on this basis. The conditions in the life of the various peoples, as well as their mutual relationships, can thus be clearly understood, whereas without this basis there can be no true understanding of this approach. Either one must seek a basis for the psychology of peoples in a spiritual reality or one must abandon such a psychology in toto. ...

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