Rudolf Steiner taught that the two great demons, Lucifer and Ahriman, offer mankind gifts — from Lucifer, we receive the gift of intellectual thought; from Ahriman, mastery of the physical realm. These gifts are beneficial and even necessary at our current stage of evolution, but they also entail great risks, temptations that can lead us badly astray. According to Steiner, Christ — the Intelligence of the Sun — needs to interpose between Lucifer and Ahriman, balancing them so that we may receive their influences in the proper, beneficial proportions.
Steiner’s portrayal of Lucifer and Ahriman was not always consistent, which may be appropriate given the complex nature of these two beings. Both Lucifer and Ahriman may be redeemed, eventually, and their activities may — ultimately — contribute to the proper unfolding of evolution. Still, both Lucifer and Ahriman are evil. Steiner pretty often made Ahriman’s wickedness plain — Ahriman is Beelzebub, he is Satan. He is, in a word, bad.
Lucifer is harder to categorize. He is a demon, like Ahriman. He tempts us toward our potential ruin, as by bringing us knowledge of good and evil — which makes it possible for us to choose evil. Yet Lucifer is the light-bringer, an attractive and even, in a sense, benevolent spirit. We attain freedom in large measure due to Lucifer’s actions — we perceive good and evil and can choose between them. However, even on the subject of freedom, Lucifer’s influence is complex. Lucifer sometimes is the enemy of freedom, just as he is sometimes the enemy of the good gods whom, in a sense, he ultimately serves.
Here is a selection of statements Steiner made about Lucifer (and, in some instances, Ahriman as well):
“We have the physical world, the astral world, the Lower Devachan and the Higher Devachan. If the body is thrust down lower even than the physical world, it comes into the sub-physical world, the lower astral world, the lower or evil Lower Devachan, and the lower or evil Higher Devachan. The evil astral world is the province of Lucifer, the evil Lower Devachan the province of Ahriman, and the evil Higher Devachan the province of the Asuras.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), a lecture, GA 130.
“Can we then say that Lucifer is evil, or can we say that Lucifer is good? One can only say that if a man maintains that Lucifer is evil, and that we must flee from him, then it must also be said that we must avoid fire, because in certain circumstances it destroys life. On the path of initiation we find that the words good and evil cannot be used in this way for the description of any being of the super-sensible world order. Fire is good when it acts in good conditions, evil when it works in evil ones; in itself it is neither the one nor the other. So it is with Lucifer. He exercises a good influence on man's soul when he becomes the instigator of man's sacrifice on the altar of human evolution of all that is most individual in his soul. Lucifer becomes an evil being rather, what he does becomes evil — when he arouses impulses leading only to self-gratification in the human soul. Thus, once our attention has been drawn to these beings, we have to follow up the effect their deeds have in the world. The acts of super-sensible beings can be described as good or bad; the beings themselves, never!” — Rudolf Steiner, INITIATION, ETERNITY AND THE PASSING MOMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1980), lecture 6, GA 138.
Lucifer, as depicted by Rudolf Steiner.
[Public domain photo.]
Below Lucifer is Ahriman, and next to Ahriman
“Lucifer wants to take men's souls away and found a planet with them of his own. Ahriman has to help him. While Lucifer sucks the juice out of the lemon, as it were, Ahriman presses it out, thereby hardening what remains. This is what he tried to do to the civilization of Rome. Here we have an important cosmic process going on — all due to the intention and resolve of luciferic and ahrimanic powers. As I have said, they were disappointed. They have continued their efforts, however, and our fifth post-Atlantean age has yet to learn how strong these attacks are. They are now only beginning but they will become stronger and stronger. This age must learn, too, that the necessity to understand these attacks will become ever greater. At the beginning of an age the backward beings cannot work strongly. As yet, we are only in the beginning, and even though it became manifest only later, the luciferic and ahrimanic powers began to exert their forces before the expiration of the fourth post-Atlantean age.” — Rudolf Steiner, INNER IMPULSES OF EVOLUTION (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), lecture 2, GA 171.
"If everything were to run without a hitch for Lucifer and Ahriman, if they were everywhere able to wrest as much as they wrest from the organ of the head, Earth-evolution would soon reach a point where Lucifer and Ahriman could succeed in destroying our Earth and in leading over all evolution of worlds into the Eighth Sphere, so that Earth-evolution as a whole would take a different course." — Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 5, GA 254.
“The temptation of Lucifer [i.e., Lucifer’s temptation of us] has had a specific effect on human life; as a result of it we can develop a particular kind of knowledge and reason, a particular way of relating through our powers of reason to things around us. This kind of relationship to the world and its phenomena arose because of Lucifer’s temptation and influence, because we tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” — Rudolf Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 113.
"Lucifer, together with everything belonging to him, is verily not a human being. Lucifer and his hosts are superhuman beings [sic]. Nor did Lucifer desire that through his deeds men should be set upon a downward path; his purpose was to rebel against the upper gods. He wanted to vanquish his opponents, not to set men upon a downward path. The progressive gods, the upper gods, and Lucifer with his hosts of the lower gods of hindrance, waged war against each other, and from the very beginning of earthly evolution, man was dragged into this warfare among gods. It was an issue that the gods in the higher worlds had to settle among themselves, but as a result of the conflict, men were drawn more deeply into the material world than was originally intended.“ — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1956), lecture 3, GA 130.
"The fact that his senses give man an objective consciousness of the world around him is due to the Luciferian Spirits. Human thought is the gift of the Gods; human consciousness is the gift of Lucifer. Lucifer lives in the astral body of man, and Lucifer's activity comes to expression at the point where the nerves give rise to feeling and perception. That is why the Serpent in Genesis says: ‘Your eyes shall be opened.’ These words must be taken literally, for it was by the Luciferian Spirits that the senses of man were opened.” — Rudolf Steiner, AN ESOTERIC COSMOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1978), lecture 17, GA 94.
“[This] is what would have happened; various types of human beings would have appeared one after the other ... That was the original conception. However, Lucifer and Ahriman opposed this; they did not want it to happen that way. They fought against this harmonious tendency of development in the evolution of humanity, and they managed to change the whole process so that various developments were shifted and displaced. While there should have been basically only one form of human being in the fifth Atlantean period that was to develop gradually into another type, Lucifer and Ahriman preserved the form of the fifth Atlantean period into the sixth, and again that of the sixth Atlantean period into the seventh, and even into the time after the Atlantean flood.
“Thus, forms that should have disappeared remained. Instead of racial diversities developing consecutively, older racial forms remained unchanged and newer ones began to evolve at the same time. Instead of the intended consecutive development of races, there was a coexistence of races. That is how it came about that physically different races inhabited the earth and are still there in our time although evolution should really have proceeded as I have described it. Even when we consider only what resulted from the development of the etheric body, we see everywhere that Lucifer and Ahriman play their part in the earthly evolution of humanity.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), pp. 74-75.
“As you will remember, the ‘luciferic temptation’ of old held major significance for human evolution. It did, of course, arise from Lucifer's specific aims — and from Atlantean times onwards Lucifer was in league with Ahriman. These aims gave rise to counter-aims of, let us call them ‘good spirits’, the spirits of light. Fundamentally speaking, the spirits of darkness also wanted the best for humanity in those early times, they wanted human beings to have the capacity for absolute freedom; but humanity was not ready for this at the time. They wanted to provide humanity with impulses which would make every human being an independent individual. It was not to be, however, for humanity was not yet ready.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993) lecture 12, GA 177.
“The Luciferic beings work in such a way that they seek to draw further away from physical materiality that which has the tendency in itself to press forward to that materiality. In the sphere of humanity the Luciferic beings work so that they use every opportunity to lift man away from his physical body. The Luciferic beings endeavour to make of man a purely spiritual psychic etheric being. The Ahrimanic forms however endeavour to separate off everything from man which can develop him towards a psychic and spiritual nature, which should now develop in humanity. They would like to change what is sub-human — that which lies in the impulses, instincts, and so on, and which expresses itself in the body — and transform it into the spiritual. To transform man into a spiritual being is the tendency both of the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic beings. Lucifer seeks to draw out of man the spirit and soul, so that he should no longer trouble himself about earthly incarnations but wish to live solely as a being of soul and spirit. The Ahrimanic beings on the other hand prefer not to trouble at all about the soul and spirit of man; but that which is given him as a covering, as a garment, as an instrument, namely the physical and etheric bodies, these they seek to separate and bring into their own world.” — Rudolf Steiner, MYSTERY CENTRES (Garber Communications, 1985), lecture 2, GA 232.
“Q. Which beings inhabit the Moon?
“A. The Moon is inhabited by those physical beings who have remained behind at an earlier stage of evolution: Luciferic beings. On the Old Moon there were beings who had fallen so far into evil that they could not take part in further evolution. They established themselves on the Moon. These malevolent beings are evident especially in the waning Moon; when the Moon is waxing they are less harmful. Some dreadful beings inhabit the Moon, but there are also favourable beings, actively concerned with growth and birth.” — Rudolf Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1986), notes from answers to questions, GA 95.
“The ego is not a bearer of evil forces because of its own nature, but because it has become infected with luciferic forces through the temptation by Lucifer; it is in fact the bearer of truly evil forces, forces which, because of the luciferic infection, tend to distort the thought life of the ego towards evil. Since the moment when the ego was given to him, man has been able to think. If there had been no luciferic temptation, man would think only good thoughts about everything. But as the luciferic temptation did, in fact, take place, the ego does not think good thoughts, but thoughts infected by Lucifer. This is a fact of earthly evolution: the ego is malicious and dastardly. It thinks only of showing itself in a good light and consigning everything else to the shadow. It is infected with all kinds of egoisms. This is how it is, because it is infected by Lucifer.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1992), lecture 19, GA 174.
“[M]alicious occult circles cultivate an alliance with Ahriman. They also cultivate an alliance with Lucifer in order to find pleasant methods for bringing about visionary experiences — in other words, methods that kindle visions from within.
“Of course, Lucifer and Ahriman also work in the human unconscious. There they accomplish the same things that the malevolent occult circles deliberately set about doing, the same things in which these circles are engaged, in alliance with Lucifer and Ahriman. And much of the criticism that must be levelled against the way our own fifth post-Atlantean epoch is unfolding in that great world out there, can be traced back to luciferic and ahrimanic impulses. At present, luciferic and ahrimanic streams have a strong grip on the world and their effect is chaotic. This is shown not only by the great amount of lying and falsification that goes on, but also by everything that is said, simply because it corresponds to emotions and passions without any regard for justifying it by showing how it accords with objective reality. For, in the present phase of human development, if we want to be in the exclusive care of benevolent powers we cannot disregard the objective truth of our assertions and mould them to the shape of our passions. Atlantean humanity was capable of inwardly determining truths that would accord with the corresponding objective reality. This capacity persisted into the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, at the latest. But, as we know, it exists no longer. It is precisely for the purpose of allowing mankind to learn to observe and investigate the external world without basing its assertions on subjective passions, that we are going through our present cycle of development.’’ — Rudolf Steiner, THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), lecture 13, GA 170.
“[T]he normal, everyday kind of knowledge we develop, as a result of the luciferic temptation, leads our waking life into the domain of Ahriman ... Lucifer led us into this state of affairs; but — we must make a clear distinction here — we do not dwell in Lucifer;s realm in our waking life, but in the kingdom of Ahriman ... Ahriman inhabits our physical body. He is always there ... He squats in us, and Lucifer hands over to him the ‘takings’ of the night, all that he experiences in us while we are asleep ... When we fall asleep, Ahriman pays off the score to Lucifer ... The effect of this is that what should happen does not.” — Rudolf Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 119.
“Whatever is to be traced to ahrimanic influence is indirectly attributable to Lucifer; when, however, the luciferic influence has been so strong as immediately to call forth the ahrimanic influence, then this influence is the more malicious. It anchors itself not only in the transgressions of the astral body, but in those of the etheric body. It manifests itself in a consciousness lying deeper than our pain consciousness, causing damage not necessarily accompanied by pain, damage that renders useless the organ which it attacks." — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 7, “Forces of Nature, Volcanic Eruptions, Earthquakes and Epidemics in Relation to Karma”, GA 120.
"Spirits who arise through immoral actions have a particular tendency to be parasites in human evolution on Earth under Lucifer's leadership, and to seize hold of the evolution of human beings before these make their physical entry into the world. They attack human beings during the embryonic stage and share their existence between conception and birth. Some of these spirits, if they are strong enough, can continue to accompany the human being after birth, creating the phenomena seen in children who are possessed." — Rudolf Steiner, ANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 168.
“If thinking were not luciferic, human beings on the earth would be like one whose thought was utterly non-luciferic, namely Goethe. Goethe was one of those who, in a certain respect, deliberately set out to confront and defy the luciferic powers. That, however, makes it essential to keep constant hold of the concrete, individual reality. The moment you generalize or unify — at that moment you are nearing luciferic thinking. If you were to contemplate each human individual, each single plant, each single animal, each single stone in itself alone, having in mind the one, single object, not classifying into genera and species, not generalizing in your thought — then you would be little prone to luciferic thinking. But anyone who was to attempt such a thing, even as a child, would never get beyond the lowest class in any modern school.
“The fact of the matter is that the universal thinking implicit in pagan wisdom has gradually been exhausted. The human constitution is such that this luciferic principle of unification can no longer be of much real service to people on earth. This has been counteracted by the fact that the God-created nature of the human being has followed in the wake of earth evolution, has become related to, allied with the earth. And because this is so, through their own inherent nature, people are less allied with the luciferic element which always tends to draw them away from the earth.
“But woe betide if humanity were simply to draw away from the luciferic element without putting something different in its place. That would bring nothing but evil.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCES OF LUCIFER AND AHRIMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 63. For Steiner's views on Goethe, see "Goethe".
“In the interworking between the earthly and spiritual worlds the destinies of men are continually being wrenched from the pinions of Lucifer and the claws of Ahriman, for verily the gods are good! The unrighteousness originating from the activities of Lucifer and Ahriman behind the scenes of existence is led by the good gods into the path of righteousness again and the karmic connection is finally lawful and good.
“Our gaze, which must of course be full of understanding for human karma, is now deflected from the destiny of men to the destiny of gods. For when we contemplate the horrors of war, the guilt and ugliness of war in their connection with death-dealing elemental catastrophes, we are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods — in two directions evil. We gaze beyond the life of men into the life of gods, beholding the life of gods as the background of human life. We watch this life of gods — not with dry, theoretical thoughts, but with our hearts, with deep, inner participation; we watch it in its connection with the individual karma of men on earth because we see human destiny inwoven with the destiny of gods.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), lecture 16, GA 236.
The same statute that depicts Lucifer as shown in the previous photo
also contains a second Lucifer image. It is hard to make out,
since it is around the corner and shows Lucifer upside-down,
plummeting out of heaven. But if you look hard, you can see
Lucifer's wings, an arm and hand, and suggestions of the rest of Lucifer's inverted form.
(The upraised hand and arm to the left belong to Christ.)
[Public domain photo.]
"Certain spiritual beings took an active part in the evolution of mankind just at the time of the moon separation ... In their Moon nature lay the cause of their rebellion during the ancient Moon evolution against the sun spirits, a rebellion that was at that time beneficial to the human being by its having led him to an independent state of consciousness. The consequences of the peculiar development of these beings during the Earth epoch entailed their becoming — during that time — enemies of the beings who, from the moon, wished to turn human consciousness into a universal mirror of knowledge under the compulsion of necessity. What on the ancient Moon had helped man to a higher state proved to be in opposition to the possibilities that had developed through Earth evolution ... These moon beings, in contrast to the others who from the earth-moon satellite fashioned human consciousness into a cosmic mirror but gave no independent will, may be called Luciferic spirits. These spirits brought to the human being the possibility of unfolding a free activity in his consciousness, but at the same time also the possibility of error, of evil." — Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1972) chapter 4, part 6, GA 13.
“If you remember what is said in the book OCCULT SCIENCE about the evolution of man through the Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon stages, you will realise that in these stages there can be no question of freedom. In those other stages man is enclosed in a web of necessity. In order that he might be ripe for freedom, the mineral nature had to be incorporated into him; he had to become a being permeated with the mineral element. Hence man can be educated for freedom only within the earthly-material world.
“This by itself indicates the tremendous significance of the earthly-material world. That which must be acquired by mankind — freedom of the will — can be acquired only during Earth-evolution. In the Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan stages men will need this freedom of will. Therefore when we consider the question of freedom, we are in a realm of great importance; for we know that the Earth is the begetter of freedom precisely because it is the Earth that impregnates man with the physical-mineral element.
“From this you will understand that what stems from the free will must be kept within the realm of Earth. To Spheres Three, Two and One, it is impossible to apply anything that stems from the principle of freedom. But the endeavour of Lucifer and Ahriman is to drag the free will of man, and whatever stems from it, into the Eighth Sphere. This means that man is perpetually exposed to the danger of having his free will wrested from him and dragged by Lucifer and Ahriman into the Eighth Sphere.” — Rudolf Steiner THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 5, GA 254.
The Eighth Sphere is, in effect, hell. In Theosophy, it is referred to as the Planet of Death to which evil souls are consigned. “Eighth Sphere or Planet of Death Both a globe and a condition of being, where utterly, irredeemably corrupt human souls are attracted, to be dissipated as earth entities. These 'lost souls' have through lifetimes lost their link with their inner god, and so can no longer serve as a channel for those spiritual forces. Too gross to remain in kama-loka or avichi, they sink to this slowly dying planet of our solar system, invisible because too dense, which acts as a vent or receptacle for human waste.” — ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHIC GLOSSARY (Theosophical University Press, 1999. When Steiner broke with Theosophy, he quit using some Theosophical terms, but he retained most of the concepts he had adopted as a Theosophist. For Steiner’s discussion of hell or perdition, see “Hell”. Also relevant: "Sin".
Steiner sometimes painted a more positive portrait of Lucifer than on other occasions. But even when he affirmed Lucifer, Steiner indicated that for Lucifer's "gifts" to be realized, additional impulses are needed. The following is from Steiner's Theosophical period.
“Jehovah and Lucifer are engaged in an unceasing battle. It is the intention of Lucifer to develop everything upwards, towards knowledge, towards the light. In Devachan [in Theosophy: the heavenly realm] the human being can bring a certain degree of advancement to the Luciferic Principle. The longer he remains in Devachan the more of this can he develop. He must pass through as many incarnations as are necessary in order to bring this Principle fully to perfection.
“Thus there exists in the world a Jehovah Principle and a Lucifer Principle. If the Jehovah Principle alone were to be taught, man would succumb to the Earth [Jehovah is the god of the Jews, a god who resides on the Moon and took a leading role in developing man's physical body]. If the teaching of reincarnation and karma were allowed to disappear entirely from the Earth we should win back for Jehovah all the Monads [fructified spirits] and physical man would be given over to the Earth, to a petrified planet. If however one teaches reincarnation and karma, man is led upwards to spiritualisation. Christianity therefore made the absolutely right compromise, and for a period of time did not teach reincarnation and karma, but the importance of the single human existence, in order that man should learn to love the Earth, waiting until he is mature enough for a new Christianity, with the teaching of reincarnation and karma, which is the saving of the Earth and brings the whole of what has been sown into Devachan. As a result, in Christianity itself there is conflict between the two Principles: the one without reincarnation and karma, the other with this teaching. In the former case, everything which Lucifer could bring about would be taken from human beings. They would actually drop out of reincarnation and turn their backs on the Earth, becoming degenerate angels. In that case the Earth would be going towards its downfall. Were the hosts of Jehovah to be victorious on the Earth, the Earth would remain behind as a kind of Moon, as a rigidified body. The possibility of spiritualisation would then be a missed opportunity. The battle in the Bhagavad Gita describes the conflict between Jehovah and Lucifer and their hosts.
“It might still be possible today for the teaching of Christianity without reincarnation and karma to prevail. Then the Earth would be lost for the Principle of Lucifer. The whole earth is still a battlefield of these two principles. The principle that leads the earth towards spirituality is Lucifer. In order to live in accordance with this Principle one must first love the Earth, one must descend on to the Earth. Lucifer is the Prince who reigns in the kingdom of science and art, but he cannot descend altogether on to the Earth: for this, his power does not suffice. Quite alone, it would be impossible for Lucifer to lead upwards what is on the Earth. For this, not only is the power of a Moon Adept necessary, but of a Sun Adept, who embraces the universality of human life, not manifesting only in science and art. Lucifer is represented as the Winged Form of the Dragon; Ezekiel describes him as the Winged Bull.” — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 23, GA 93a.
To comprehend Lucifer as depicted by Steiner, it is helpful to return to a more traditional, Biblical perspective, at least as a jumping off point. Referred to as Satan, Lucifer is the chief adversary of God. He tempts man, potentially to man's destruction, but he is ultimately subordinate to God. As depicted in PARADISE LOST, he is the chief angelic rebel, who fell and who caused man to fall. "The word Satan is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word for ‘adversary’ in the Old Testament. With the definite article the Hebrew word denotes ‘the adversary’ par excellence, mainly in the Book of Job, where the adversary comes to the heavenly court with the ‘sons of God.’ His task is to roam through the earth (like a contemporaneous Persian official) seeking out acts or persons to be reported adversely (to the king); his function thus is the opposite of that of the ‘eyes of the Lord,’ which roam through the earth strengthening all that is good. Satan is cynical about disinterested human goodness and is permitted to test it under God’s authority and control and within the limits that God sets.
“In the New Testament the Greek transliteration Satanas is used, and this usually appears as Satan in English translations. He is spoken of as the prince of evil spirits, the inveterate enemy of God and of Christ, who takes the guise of an angel of light. He can enter a man and act through him; hence, a man can be called Satan because of his acts or attitude. Through his subordinate demons Satan can take possession of men’s bodies, afflicting them or making them diseased. To him sinners are delivered for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved. After the preaching of the 70 disciples, during which devils were subjected to them, Jesus saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18).” — "Satan." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 19 Feb. 2010.
"This first Book proposes, first in brief, the whole Subject, Mans disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was plac't: Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the Serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many Legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of Heaven with all his Crew into the great Deep ... Satan awakens all his Legions ... To these Satan directs his Speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining Heaven, but tells them lastly of a new World and new kind of Creature to be created [i.e., man] ... Pandemonium, the Palace of Satan rises, suddenly built out of the Deep: The infernal Peers there sit in Councel." — John Milton, PARADISE LOST, argument of the first book.
Steiner changed many of these conceptions (e.g., he identified "Satan" as Ahriman, not Lucifer), but he retained some others. Lucifer has a potentially productive role to play in human evolution, and ultimately he may be redeemed. But he is also deeply immersed in evil and in the possible triumph of evil. He interferes in our proper evolution; he works, at least sometimes, against the will of the good gods; he is associated with intellect (a faculty we need to master but that cannot lead to ultimate truth); he wants to take men's souls; he wants to create his own perverse realm (perhaps in league with his rival/ally, Ahriman); he threatens to lure men to perdition. "This devilish plan — for here we have indeed to do with the devil — was put into effect by Lucifer and Ahriman." — Rudolf Steiner THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 5, GA 254.
The following is not necessarily authoritative, but it represents an effort by one of Steiner's followers to summarize much about Lucifer. Other Anthroposophists often refer to it admiringly:
“Anthroposophy looks upon man as a meeting-point of the forces of the Universe. Here they find expression in the eternal battle between progress and retrogression, between good and evil, fought out within the human soul. The complex nature of man is imaginatively interpreted in this sculptured group [Steiner's statue of Christ, Lucifer, and Ahriman]. The forces which make of him [i.e., man] a sentimental dreamer seeking to escape from earth's realities into a world of false idealism [Lucifer's influence], are set against the opposite pole in human nature, which reaches down into those elements that destroy and petrify, that create in him the materialistic ideal which sees in Earth-life the sum total of all existence [Ahriman's influence]. Destructive and evil, when guiding the soul, these two tendencies in human nature have in modern times been expressed in the familiar figure of Mephistopheles, who unites in one personality the two opposite poles of evil in man. Rudolf Steiner, with the penetration of a true seer, has given each force an individual shape. On one side, on a mighty rock lies the form of Lucifer, the seducer, who lures the human soul into following the dictates of selfish, sensuous impulses. His efforts to gain the end he has in view are frustrated. He hangs in death-throes over a precipice, a weird, fantastic figure, with head barely shaped into form, with powerful wings, and a body not yet entirely human. Bound in a cavern below lies Ahriman, the Satan of Scripture, a petrified, angular figure, with a forehead that slopes back and eyes that are narrow and merciless — evil, sinister, sub-human. He crouches terrified in his cave, and is bound there by sun-rays which strike down from above. His body is entwined in roots and his skeleton limbs seem to be one with the rock on which he is stretched. One arm is raised in impotent rebellion against a central figure of the composition, standing between him and Lucifer. In this figure Dr. Steiner has given expression, in a majestic, Christ-Like form, to that spiritual element which for ever flows into the human soul that will receive it. As a guiding power to lead mankind in the right direction, holding in check and balancing those other forces which wage war upon the spiritual essence at the fount of existence, the Christ-principle in the human soul vanquishes all that counteracts spiritual progress, not by fighting, but by penetrating the soul as infinite love. Thus does this force gain the ascendancy over evil, on the one hand overthrowing all false idealism, which then, like a vanquished tempter, sinks powerless into the abyss with pinions crushed: on the other hand binding to earth what, from below, has wrongly usurped a place in the human soul. Thus does the Christ-force establish the right balance in man. This is the deep thought which, in art, finds realisation in this sculptured group.” — Arild Rosenkrantz, FRUITS OF ANTHROPOSOPHY: An Introduction to the Works of Dr. Rudolf Steiner (Threefold Commonwealth, 1922), chapter 2.
In classical mythology, Lucifer is the morning star or the herald of the dawn ("lucifer" comes from the Latin word for light). In Christian tradition, the name "Lucifer" has been applied to Satan before his rebellion against God and his subsequent fall out of heaven. Steiner's conception of Lucifer is not wholly consistent with any other, although his debt to others is clear. In his statue of Christ, Ahriman, and Lucifer, Steiner portrays Lucifer as having a pleasing countenance but a monstrous, tailed body. He also shows Lucifer upside-down, falling.
The greatest account of Lucifer in English can be found in John Milton's PARADISE LOST, in which Lucifer's pride, intelligence, anger, and pain make him an almost sympathetic character.
Lucifer falling from heaven —
illustration for PARADISE LOST
“Man takes the Christ-force into himself, because he voluntarily receives it, and no one can receive it who does not do so voluntarily. This has only been made possible for man because he has become human upon earth, because he was called to grow into man on earth. [We were not yet human on Saturn, Sun, and Moon.] The fallen Angels who have spread over the earth as Lucifer, are in a different position. These ought really to have become men on the Moon; they have remained behind in their development, hence they can enter the astral body [our second invisible body] but not the Ego [our third invisible body]. They are in a peculiar position, a position which we can only describe graphically, even if it appears somewhat pedantic. Let us suppose, leaving aside the physical and etheric body [our first invisible body], that the astral body of man during the Lemurian development [i.e., while we lived on Lemura] was represented by the circle A-B-C, and the Ego was the circle enclosed (a) in that astral body. [Steiner drew a circle, A, enclosing a smaller circle, a, at its center.] The Ego gradually entered the astral body. What happens now? During the Lemurian development the Luciferic forces slip on all sides into the man's astral body and penetrate him with their activities, which find expression in his lower passions. That through which he succumbs to error and evil is rooted in his astral body; the Luciferic spirits have implanted this into him. (If they had not done this he would never have had the possibility of error and evil, he would have been lifted up to the place from whence he receives his ‘Ego’, untouched by all hindering influences.) So it goes on, but the great leaders [high initiates and their spiritual superiors] protect humanity as far as it is necessary so that it should not sink too low.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 10, GA 110.
"Steiner describes unseen beings who tempt and waylay us in two very different directions. On one side, there are the servants of Lucifer, the fallen angel of light. They are beings who have brought humanity great gifts, but who would abandon the goals of the highest hierarchies and create a blissful kingdom of spiritual light and delight for themselves. On the other side, there are immensely powerful beings who strive to blind us to the spirit, powers for whom it is self-evident that the universe is a machine and that what can be measured, weighed, and quantified [i.e., the view taken by scientists, "materialists"] is the only reality. These spirits of materialism belong to the dark power that the ancient wisdom called Ahriman, or Angra Mainyu." — Henry Barnes, A LIFE FOR THE SPIRIT: Rudolf Steiner in the Crosscurrent of Our Time (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 131.
Lucifer's fall results from his rebellious effort to assert his independent will. Because of his rebellion, he descends from the highest spiritual realm into — and below — the physical universe.
“This is the cosmic process that would have taken place if nothing else had happened: There would have been a Sun body [precursor to our present Sun] where the beings adapted to it would have experienced certain things in the elements of warmth and air. Opposite this Sun body, there would have been a Moon body [precursor to our present Moon] where other beings living in warmth, air, and water would have evolved ... In fact, however, the process of evolution did not continue in this way ... Certain beings adapted to the Moon body took possession of the element of will...that was available to them and used it to shape a life of their own, independent of the life of the Sun ... [I]ndependent Moon experiences developed, causing a state of rebellion or revolt against the Sun beings. The different kingdoms that had come about on Sun and Moon, especially the kingdom of incipient human beings, were drawn into this revolt.” — Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 171.
To put this in context, let's step back. Our evolution began in a very nebulous condition known, in Anthroposophy, as OId Saturn. Gradually the tenuous material constituting Old Saturn became denser, giving rise to a second evolutionary phase, Old Sun. Still further densification led to the third phase, Old Moon. We now live in the fourth phase, the densest: Earth. "[S]olid matter itself began to form and the present solar system [developed]. Accompanying this was a development in which matter 'fell'. Steiner gave this present cosmic embodiment the name of 'Earth' ... However, there is also an 'abnormal' development whereby matter becomes too solid. This is linked to a rebellion led by Lucifer, who is the karma of Ahriman, the spirit of hardening." — Geoffrey Ahern, SUN AT MIDNIGHT (James Clarke & Co., 2009), p 112.
"There is a tension between two poles of reality. There are the pristine world of spirit...and the over-condensing world ... This 'abnormal' 'fall', in becoming gross and more rebellious — as with the 'Luciferic' spirits in the Moon phase — also becomes more independent and developed ... [The] ascent of consciousness accompanies the condensation into subtle matter and 'fall' into 'abnormal' or gross matter." — Ibid., pp. 116-117.
"An abnormal Luciferic rebellion [on the Moon]...gives rise to a coarse independence ... The most advanced men are especially involved in rebellions against the Spiritual Hierarchies who remain fine and pure ... On Moon, differentiation has descended into rebellion and conflict." — Ibid., p. 129.
Some of Steiner's statements are even more peculiar than others. Here's one from Steiner's Theosophical period. It is not wholly consistent with other statements we have already seen. Sometimes the best approach to studying Steiner is just to hear the man out in silence.
"Two streams now existed, that of Jahve [i.e., Jehovah] and that of the Moon Adepts [i.e., initiates, dwelling on the Moon, who knew how to use occult knowledge]. The interest of the Moon Adepts lay in spiritualising mankind. Jahve, however, wished to make of them beautiful statues [i.e., physically complete but spiritually empty]. At that time these two powers contested with one another.
"Thus on the Earth we have to do with a force having the power of self-reproduction; Kriya-shakti [more generally, in Theosophy, Kriyasakti is active spiritual power]. This power is only present on the Earth today in the very highest Mysteries [i.e., centers of occult wisdom]. At that time everyone possessed it. Through this power man could reproduce himself; he then became divided into two halves with the result that two sexes came into being on the Earth.
"Jehovah withdrew the entire power of self-reproduction from the Earth and placed it in the Moon side by side with the Earth. Through this arose the connection between the power of reproduction and the Moon beings. Now we have human beings with a weakened power of reproduction, but not yet having the possibility of spiritualising themselves. These were the predecessors of present-day man. The Moon Adepts came to them and said: You must not follow Jehovah. He will not allow you to attain to knowledge but you should. That is the Snake. The Snake approached the woman, because she had the power to produce offspring out of herself. Now Jehovah said: Man has become like unto ourselves, and brings death into the world and everything connected with it.
"‘Lucifer’ is the name given to the Moon Adepts; they are the bestowers of human intellectuality." — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 23, GA 93a.
Steiner gave this lecture in 1905. In the subsequent twenty years, he adjusted his views somewhat.
How we see Lucifer, Steiner said (in 1912), depends on our degree of occult initiation:
"Lucifer shows himself in a completely changed form when we advance to this second stage of initiation, appearing before us as the ruler in the realm of Venus. I told you also how the Sun, which hitherto we have thought of as being supreme in power and might, now appears as a planet among the seven planets, and Christ as the Spirit of the planet of the Sun. Christ himself manifests in this connection as a planetary Spirit, brother to the Spirit of Venus. In other words, Christ appears as a brother of Lucifer. This opened the way for a consideration of the post-Earthly destiny of the Buddha. For the later destiny of the Buddha cannot be livingly experienced in its pure and original truth, without attaining to this second stage of initiation; it is impossible to arrive at the truth which we expounded yesterday concerning the Buddha, unless one goes beyond the first meeting with death and with Lucifer where one beholds the scene of the Temptation, and passes on to the next stage of initiation where the seven Spirits of the Planets become manifest." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN IN THE LIGHT OF OCCULTISM, THEOSOPHY AND PHILOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 10, GA 137.
But once again, no matter how we dice and slice, we are left with the knowledge that Steiner made other statements about Lucifer that are clear and, apparently, categorical, and they stress Lucifer's evil intent.
How we see Lucifer may depend on how much of him we see,
and how much his involvement with Ahriman is revealed.
For more on the influence Lucifer has had on mankind,
- Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings