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Inner Development by Valentin Tomberg

LECTURE ONE - The New Michael Community and its Significance for the Future

Valentin Tomberg
Russian icon of Archangel Michael.
His sword is the symbol of a warrior
and his shield with the Slavonic for Christ
represents the Eternal Kingdom in his care.
He wears red, the iconographic colour to
celebrate eternal life and the blood shed for it.

Who is Michael in the cosmos? Who is Michael in relation to humanity? In order to answer this question, we must direct our attention first to another spiritual being, the one who in the Bible is addressed by the prophet Ezekiel as the King of Tyre - that is, as the spiritual being whose earthly reflection was the King of Tyre.

Ezekiel says to him:

Thou art an unblemished seal,
full of wisdom and fair beyond measure.
Thou art in God's Paradise and adorned
with all kinds of precious stones,
with sardius, topaz, diamond, turquoise,
onyx, jasper, sapphire,
amethyst, emerald and gold.
In the day thou wert created,
thy kettle drums and pipes
must already have been prepared in thee.
Thou art like a cherub that spreads
itself out and covers itself;
and I have set thee
upon the holy mountain of God,
so that thou dwellest among the fiery stones.
                                 (Ezek. 28; 12-14)
Valentin Tomberg
Satan by William Blake, illustration
to Milton's Paradise Lost

Now, which being is this of whom Ezekiel speaks in such wonderfully beautiful words?
Who is this cherub who dwells in God's paradise among fiery stones and has twelve precious stones in his crown?

This "cherub" is Lucifer. The cosmic role on the threshold of Paradise was in fact intended for Lucifer. Lucifer was to have been the Guardian of the Threshold. Lucifer was the being ordained by the All Highest to stand "on the fiery stones" at the "limit of Paradise" and to guard its threshold. But Lucifer committed the wicked deed and was expelled from the Holy Mountain of God.

A fundamental spiritual fact is connected with Lucifer's fall: namely, that the Trinity of the Good sacrifices itself to the lower. We see this law expressed, for example, in the Father of the world. For the Father's primal purpose, which underlies the world, is to be replaced upon the throne by his successor, his Son. Thus anyone who takes up a definite position on earth wants to be replaced by a successor, an heir. This is the principle of selflessness.

Valentin Tomberg
Ahriman or Angra Mainyu,
God's adversary in Zoroastrianism

The trinity of evil - or rather the triple disunity of evil - presents something quite different. In the case of evil, the successor is the enemy of the predecessor. The being who comes earlier is always threatened with being swallowed up by the one who comes later.

Thus Lucifer, who by his fall became a representative of the first principle of evil in the world, hates his karmic successor, Ahriman, because Ahriman strives to swallow him up.

In the karmic future, however, Ahriman himself will be swallowed up by his successor, the Asura - the third principle of evil, which has yet to reveal itself.

Good reveals itself through the fact that the earlier sacrifices itself to the later. In the case of evil, the opposite occurs: the being who comes later becomes the devourer of the predecessor. Now, because Lucifer had to vacate the place in the world allotted to him by the gods, the need arose in the world to protect Lucifer, for a definite period of cosmic time, from being swallowed up by Ahriman.

Therefore another being, who took up the position on the threshold over which Ahriman may not pass. This other being guards the threshold that represents the protective rampart of the spiritual world against Ahriman. This being is the archangel Michael. This is the reason Rudolf Steiner began the verse dedicated to Michael with the words:

Gleaming spirit powers, arisen from sun power,
spreading your grace upon worlds:
you are intended by the thinking of the gods
to form Michael's garment of rays.
Valentin Tomberg
Sophia with her three daughters
Faith, Hope and Charity
(Byzantine icon)

The spiritual powers arisen from the sun are meant to form Michael's garment of rays. Michael is destined for another, higher dignity than the dignity vested in the other angels. This happened because Michael offered up a sacrifice by putting himself in the empty place, the one vacated by Lucifer.

To understand Michael's position in the cosmos even more concretely, we must direct our attention to another being. She is a being who is quite unknown and is entirely misunderstood in the West, one whose name indeed has barely been preserved. In the Greek-Slavonic East, however, a feeling memory of her still lives and comes to expression in religious art. This is the being who, revealing the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit for human consciousness, makes the Divine Trinity into a Tri-Unity for the consciousness of the beings of the world. Therefore she has the following symbol:

If you imagine this being, she will take the form of a circle circumscribed about a triangle. In ancient Israel, Solomon the Wise spoke of her thus:

Wisdom [Sophia] built her house and raised it upon seven pillars. (Prov. 9: 1)
Valentin Tomberg
Sophia with her three daughters
Faith, Hope and Charity
(Russian icon)

Speaking in the voice of Sophia herself, Solomon says:

The Lord knew me at the beginning of his ways;
before he created anything, I was there.
I was installed from eternity,
from the beginning, before the earth.
When the deeps were not yet in existence,
I was already born;
when the springs were not flowing with water,
before the mountains
were set upon their foundations,
before the hills, I was born.
When he had not yet made the earth
and what is upon it,
nor the mountains on the surface of the earth,
when he prepared the heavens, I was there.
I was there when he measured the deep,
when he fixed the clouds above,
when he made firm the springs of the deep,
when he set a limit to the sea and the waters
so that they should not overstep his command,
when he laid the foundation of the earth.
                                        (Prov. 8: 22-29)

Sophia preceded all things. She is no mere plan for the structure of the world, but rather a true spiritual being who has descended to the hierarchy of the archangels. However a misfortune befell her. Rudolf Steiner refers to this in a verse which begins:

Valentin Tomberg
Mary of Seven Swords, Our Lady
of Sorrows (Russian icon)
Isis - Sophia
Wisdom of God-
Lucifer hath slain her
And on the wings of the cosmic forces
Carried her forth to the widths of space.

Lucifer gained control of the power with which Sophia united herself vertically with earthly humanity. This was his "fall" - the crime, of which Ezekiel speaks. Lucifer turned cosmic wisdom into personal wisdom; and Sophia's power became sheer fantasy for human beings. Fantasy thus became the Luciferic counterfeit of the revelation of Sophia. It became the power of lying.

Sophia lost the possibility of allowing her revelations to flow directly into humanity. She fell silent, waiting for the future moment when she would be able to convey to humankind the gifts with which she is inwardly filled.

Valentin Tomberg
Mater Dolorosa by El Greco

The image that expresses the inward being of Sophia, and can be found especially in the East (as well as in the West), is that of the Mater Dolorosa, the suffering mother. She gazes upon the generations of men and women on earth with the suffering of a mother who is prevented from bestowing gifts upon her children.

By means of her language of suffering, Sophia is the other Guardian of the Threshold. For the threshold has two sides. One can cross over the threshold from two directions: from the spiritual into the physical, lower world and from the lower world into the upper world.

Michael stands at the threshold separating the lower world from the upper. He prevents the powers of the lower world from encroaching into the upper worlds.

While Michael prevents the penetration of the sinful eye of knowledge into the spiritual world, Sophia prevents the unbridled and untimely will-to-revelation of beings of the spiritual world from penetrating into the lower world. How does she do this? Insofar as she is the bearer of suffering, who has been robbed of her imaginative power by Lucifer, Sophia, as the Mater Dolorosa, pale and colourless, robbed of her garment of light - a warning to others not to fall prey to the temptation that is the essence of Lucifer.

Valentin Tomberg
Michael and the Dragon
by Rudolf Steiner

How does Michael carry out his mission as Guardian of the Threshold? From a number of Rudolf Steiner's lectures we know that Michael's mission comes to the fore during the late summer and early autumn, the festival of Michael being celebrated on 29th of September. His fight with the dragon takes place during this period.

This confrontation, which takes place in the region halfway between the earth and the moon, happens in order to frustrate the attempt Ahriman makes every year to gain control of the moon. Ahriman wants to gain the eighth sphere, which is "chained" to the moon, for himself. He would like to obtain a direct connection with this sphere so that it would then be directly connected with the interior of the earth. This would mean that the powers of the Virgin who, according to the Christmas Imagination, supports herself upon the moon, would also be dragged into the cycle of earthly events.

Virgin and child
Virgin and Child on Crescent Moon
by Albrecht Durer

What Lucifer did in robbing Sophia of her power of imagination, Ahriman wishes to carry a stage further, in that he wishes to gain possession of her power of inspiration. Every autumn this attempt of Ahriman's is brought to naught by Michael. Every autumn this happens at the 'threshold" - for this area between the earth and the moon is the threshold. Over and over again, the "dragon" is hurled back into the "abyss," i.e. into the interior of the earth. Thus Michael fulfills his cosmic mission as Guardian of the Threshold.

Now Michael has a historical mission. He was the folk spirit of the people of Israel. How are we to understand the fact that this guardian of the threshold could simultaneously be a people's folk spirit? The people of Israel, as a community, consisted of "people of the threshold." They bore within themselves the Mystery of Christ and thus they were themselves this threshold.

Virgin and child
13th-century Byzantine icon
from Saint Catherine's Monastery
Mount Sinai

This explains the superhuman severity and strictness with which, in the course of their history, the people of Israel avoided mingling with other cultures. It explains likewise the apparently inhuman, cruel obliteration of the cults of the "high places," and of the "sacrifice of the first born" in fire. This extermination of all foreign spiritual life within Israel was a necessity; for the cults on the "heights" represented a Luciferic trend, and the rite of "Moloch" represented an Ahrimanic trend. The threshold of the Christ Mystery had to be kept guarded. Thus it was indeed guarded, and the guardian was the folk spirit of this "people of the threshold," Michael himself.

Between the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, Michael brought about a mighty and significant deed in the spiritual history of the world. According to Rudolf Steiner - with the founding of Anthroposophy - Michael was able to make Sophia effective again.

To be a 'Michaelite" today means to be a person who, through the contemplation of nature, has memories of the cult that one's soul experienced before birth. If deep within one's soul remembrance is awakened of images of the Fall, of the Mystery of Golgotha, of perspectives regarding the future - then one has a Michaelic-solar eye

Such individuals experience thinking in such a way that they do not demand proofs and facts in order to be convinced of the truth of what they have come to know. For they experience thought not as a logical possibility, but rather as the power of memory of the cult of Michael - the feeling for truth, is endowed in such persons with a magical force. Hence, the second part of the Michael verse runs as follows:

He, the messenger of Christ,
Points in you to the holy cosmic will
That bears the human being.

The community of Michael must prove itself. Its members must have a power of thinking is called "spiritual iron." Every person who stands dedicated to recognized truth is a sword of Michael, and is himself or herself a kind of "guardian of the threshold."

Sun, Saturn and Moon
Sun, Saturn and Moon

What sort of future faces this community?

The new natural clairvoyance will reveal itself among human beings in two ways. Some people will see the spiritual at work in nature, will recognize how the elements are the expression of those spiritual mysteries that have flowed into the earth through the Saturn, Sun, and Moon existences. The mystery of evolution in nature will become ever more apparent to these individuals. In another group, a different capacity will emerge - a karmic seeing, the beholding of the karmic past. They will behold the karma called forth by various deeds.


Rudolf Steiner speaks of two streams within the Anthroposophical Movement: the "Platonists" and the "Aristotelians'. Platonists are those in whom the new clairvoyance appears in the form of karmic seership. Aristotelians have clairvoyance with regard to the secrets of nature. The Michael community consists on the one hand of people who have developed their consciousness-soul so as to use their clairvoyance to gain knowledge of nature and, on the other hand, of people who will receive the principle of the spirit-self into themselves in order to experience karma.

These two groups must work together. there is no other way for it to be. They will represent the complete circle - the circle of the new, spiritual knighthood - which can bear the name: "Michael-Sophia in nomine Christi."

The men and women of Sophia, of revelation, will walk the path together with the men and women of knowledge; the Platonists will stand guard together with the Aristotelians at the threshold of the spiritual world. In this community, guardianship will involve neither keeping silent nor revealing everything.

Instead, it will mean that a living wall will be erected - a wall consisting of steadfast human forms who will stand as a vertical connecting link between the spiritual and the physical worlds. On one side they will open the gates to the authorized, and on the other they will close them to the unauthorized. This community of knights - this community of "knights of the threshold" - will be fully realized in the future.

Let us remain true to the spirit, independent of all teachings and teachers, of all organizations in the world. Iet us remain faithful to the inner voice of truth and conscience ! Then we are in the school that is preparing for the future Michael Community - the community that will bear the motto:

Michael-Sophia in nomine Christe

LECTURE TWO: Meditation - Its Being and Effect


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