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The Last Address

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  • LilOleMissy
    *The Last Address* given by Rudolf Steiner at Dornach, on Michaelmas Eve, 1924 Translated by George Adams with a preface by Alfred Heidenreich Rudolf Steiner
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2003
      *The Last Address*

      given by Rudolf Steiner at Dornach, on Michaelmas Eve, 1924

      Translated by George Adams with a preface by Alfred Heidenreich

      Rudolf Steiner Press, London

      First English Edition 1967. Translated from a shorthand report
      unrevised by the lecturer. The text from which the translation was
      made is printed at the end of the volume in the Complete Edition of
      Rudolf Steiner's works, entitled: Esoterische Betrachtungen
      karmischer Zusammenhange (Vol. IV). (No. 238 in the Bibliographical
      Survey, 1961.) This English edition is published by permission of
      the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Fornach, Switzerland.

      Autumn in Dornach can be incomparably beautiful. Even springtime
      when all the cherry trees around the Goetheanum are in blossom
      cannot match it. In autumn the gardens abound with flowers in every
      possible colour and shape, the clear air blows down from the
      Alps--they cannot be seen but their presence is felt in the
      background; the autumn sun fills the valleys with a steady, warm
      glow, in the stillness of the night the stars glitter overhead and
      seem to send messages to those who can hear them and the whole
      atmosphere is filled with a sense of ripeness, fulfilment and
      It was in such a setting that Rudolf Steiner achieved the last
      fantastic culmination of his twenty-five years of anthroposophical
      work. As will be generally known, he gave the results of his studies
      and investigations mainly in lectures. The shorthand records of
      nearly six thousand of them have been preserved. The living contact
      from spirit to spirit through the spoken word proved to be the best
      means of getting over those astonishing discoveries in the
      spirit-world which he had made in long years of earnest and
      innermost research. Of course, the books which he wrote and prepared
      for publication with their concentrated, limpid, crystal-clear style
      are indispensable for the study of Anthroposophy. But in his
      lectures the very pulse of his own spiritual life could be felt and
      in some measure can still be recaptured in the published notes and
      In the last autumn of his life, during the month of September
      1924, Rudolf Steiner surpassed in sheer concentrated quantity
      anything he had ever done before. Of the quality of these last gifts
      it is difficult to speak; ordinary words do not measure up to it.
      He gave four lectures every day, sometimes even five, during
      those September weeks. In the evening he spoke to members of the
      Anthroposoophical Society on the delicate subject of Reincarnation
      and Karma. A supreme master of the subject, he understood how to
      lift in some measure the veil from the age-old spiritual-historic
      background of the Anthroposophical Movement. Or he would assemble
      the members of the Esoteric School for a special class. In the
      mornings and afternoons three courses continued from day to day. A
      series of eighteen lectures on the Book of Revelation was given to
      the priests of the Christian Community; a series of lectures on
      Pastoral Medicine to anthroposophical doctors and the priests
      together; a series of nineteen lectures on Dramatic Art to the
      students of speech and drama at the Goetheanum. In this last course
      he sometimes took whole scenes from Plays and acted them himself,
      impersonating one character after another. On two days of the week
      he also continued his regular lectures for the workmen at the
      As one who was privileged to take part in all these courses and
      lectures except those for the workmen, I would testify to the truly
      extraordinary combination of sober mater-of-factness and spiritual
      elation which prevailed in these meetings. The flood-gates of
      Revelation were opened as they had not been for uncounted times, and
      yet it was all taken as part of normal human life.
      In the evening of Friday, 27th September we made our way as
      usual up the hill to the Schreinerei, the large carpenter's workshop
      where most of the wooden structure for the first Goetheanum had been
      prepared, and where a temporary lecture-hall had been improvised
      after the first Goetheanum had been destroyed by fire and while the
      second Goetheanum was being built. For the first time in Rudolf
      Steiner's life a brief notice was put up to say that he was unable
      to give his lecture that night because he was not well enough to do
      Reports and rumours concerning his health had been current for
      some time. Spiritual development and transformation of the kind
      Rudolf Steiner achieved draws on the natural vitality of the body in
      a manner in which a lighted candle consumes its substance as a
      sacrificial flame. As a result, the digestive system grows extremely
      sensitive. It was said that with Rudolf Steiner this had reached
      such a degree that at times ordinary food would affect him like
      poison. It was also said that with the burning of the first
      Goetheanum part of his very own life had gone away with the flames.
      Indeed one could not fail to notice with growing anxiety that at
      times he looked exhausted.
      O the previous day, 26th September, I had been allowed to call
      on him briefly on a private matter, and was deeply distressed to see
      him as I had never seen him before. I hardly dared to speak. I was
      thoroughly ashamed of myself for having bothered him, although the
      few minutes of conversation were invaluable for the rest of my life.
      Yet at the same time during his lectures he always seemed to
      recover. He might move to the rostrum with effort but after an hour
      and a half he walked away with the bouyancy of a young man. At these
      moments and during other times, he refreshed himself from the
      sources from which the spiritual vitality of the cosmos is
      On the following night, 28th September, the eve of St. Michael's
      Day, Rudolf Steiner "raffte sich auf" and with superhuman strength
      once more gathered all his energy together to give a lecture in
      honour of the festival of St. Michael. It had been a focusing point
      in his lectures during that summer to reveal the Archangel Michael
      as the Spirit of the Age, the inspiring and guiding Guardian of the
      present period of history. He had described him as the "firey Prince
      of Thought" with whom the souls had been connected who are drawn
      into the Anthroposophical Movement and by whom they had been
      prepared and taught in a "Michael School" in the spirit-world before
      they descended into incarnation in this century.
      The present "Last Address" is a transcript of what Rudolf
      Steiner said on that evening. It is a delicate, precious legacy.
      Technically it is a fragment. Rudolf Steiner requested that the
      transcript should not be made available before he had given the
      second half. But he was never able to complete the lecture. And thus
      it was eventually published as it stands, an earnest token, perhaps,
      of the fact that his very life--all too brief for his disciples and
      students in spite of the incredible wealth of his creative
      gifts--was cut short by the stone-walling of an uninspired,
      intellectually self-satisfied and basically dull age.
      As it stands, the "Last Address" presents a serious problem of
      though to Anthroposophists. Never before had Rudolf Steiner linked
      together the Individualities of John the Baptist and Lazarus-John in
      the manner in which he did it in this last lecture. Of the
      Individuality of John the Baptist he had spoken many times before.
      The spirit who lived in the Baptist was in fact treated by Rudolf
      Steiner as the paradigma of a representative sequence of consecutive
      lives of the same Individuality. Elijah--John the
      Baptist--Raphael--Novalis--this was the first series of
      reincarnations declared by Steiner early on in his teaching and
      never added to by any other examples until the very last months of
      his life. In their various ways these foud historic personalities
      were the lives of the herald-angel of Christ.
      The dramatic raising of Lazarus from the grave was an event
      which led to the elucidation of a different mystery. In his book,
      *Christianity as Mystical Fact*, published in 1902, Rudolf Steiner
      described this apparent "miracle" as an act of Initiation. In this
      act which represents a transitiopnal form between the rituals of
      Initiation in the Mystery Temples of the ancient world and the
      dawning Christian era in which Initiations of this type are
      superseded altogether by inner development, Lazarus became
      Lararus-John, "the disciple whom Jesus loved" and the author of the
      Fourth Gospel. Although Rudolf Steiner spoke in the years after 1902
      of this event, and of the figure who passed through it, many times
      and from many different sides, he never referred to another
      incarnation of Lazarus except on an intimate occasion, the content
      of which became known somewhat more generally only much later, after
      his death. But as already stated, he never connected John the
      Baptist and Lazarus-John in the manner suggested in the "Last
      Address", and a previous incarnation of Lazarus which he indicated
      on the occasion mentioned above would seem to point in a different
      direction. Thus we are really left with a mystery.
      Fortunately, some light has been thrown on this through a reply
      which Rudolf Steiner is reported to have given to a question of Dr.
      Ludwig Noll, the physician who together with Dr. Ita Wegman, the
      head of the Medical Section of the Goetheanum, attended him during
      his illness. We quote the postscript printed in the most recent
      German edition of the "Last Address".
      "According to authenticated statements, the following verbal
      explanation was given by Rudolf Steiner to his physician, Dr. Ludwig
      Noll, in connection with the 'Last Address'.
      "At the awakening of Lazarus, the spiritual Being, John the
      Baptist, who since his death had been the overshadowing Spirit of
      the disciples, penetrated from above into Lazarus as far as the
      Consciousness Soul; the Being of Lazarus himself, from below,
      intermingled with the spiritual Being of John the Baptist from
      above. After the awakening of Lazarus, this Being is Lazarus-John,
      the disciple whom the Lord loved."
      This is a great help. But the present writer feels that even
      this illuminating comment still leaves some profound problems
      unanswered, and other readers and students of the "Last Address" may
      well share this feeling. The real core of the mystery seems to lie
      in the question: Did the two Individualities, the Baptist and the
      disciples whom Jesus loved, share their future incarnations? And if
      so, in what form?
      Perhaps this is where we must leave the matter. In some other
      context Rudolf Steiner remarked with quiet seriousness that it is in
      certain respects better and more fruitful for the development of a
      human soul on its path to the spirit, if the soul has to ponder a
      spiritual problem rather than be furnished with a plain and neat
      answer. Did Rudolf Steiner leave the esoteric riddle of the "Last
      Address" with us, so that we might grow by pondering it reverently
      and thus be led eventually to revelations which we should find
      My dear friends,
      It has not been possible for me to speak to you on the last two
      days. But today--the day when the Michael mood of dedication must
      pour its light into all our heart and souls in readiness for the
      morrow--this day, my dear friends, I did not want to let pass
      without speaking to you at least a few words. That I am able to do
      so is due entirely to the loving and devoted care of our friend Dr.
      Ita Wegman. And so I hope that I will still be ale to say today what
      I desire particularly to say to you on the occasion of this
      In recent months we have frequently spoken, my dear friends, of
      the instreaming of the Michael-Power into the spiritual events of
      man's life on earth. And it will be one of the more beautiful
      results that can follow from our anthroposophical understanding of
      times and seasons, if we are really able to add to the other
      festivals of the year a rightly ordered Michael Festival. That
      however will only be possible when the might and power of the
      Michael Thought, of which today men have no more than a dim feeling,
      has taken hold in a number of human souls who will then be able to
      create the right human starting-point for such a festival.
      What we can do at present is to awaken, in this Michael time,
      the Michael mood in our souls by giving ourselves up to thoughts
      that will prepare the way for a future Michael Festival. And such
      thoughts are especially stirred to activity within us when we turn
      our gaze upon all that we have seen taking place--partly on Earth,
      partly in supersensible worlds--through long periods of time, in
      preparation for all that can now be accomplished for human evolution
      in the course of this present century by souls who in full sincerity
      feel themselves drawn to the Michael stream.
      The you yourselves, my dear friends, in so far as you truly and
      honestly incline to the Anthroposophical Movement, belong to these
      souls--this I have endeavoured to make clear to you in the lectures
      of the last weeks and especially also in the lectures where I spoke
      to you directly of the karma of the Anthroposophical Society. We can
      however carry these considerations a little further, and that is
      what I want to do today.
      Let us now bring before our souls beings who are intimately
      connected, and will always be intimately connected, with the Michael
      stream, in the sense in which we have described it here. Let us
      direct our gaze to beings who in at least two successive
      incarnations made a powerful impression on great numbers of their
      fellow-men, beings who, however, only show themselves in their true
      unity when we recognise them as successive incarnations of one and
      the same thing.
      When we look back into olden times, we see rise up before us
      within the traditions of Judaism the prophetic figure of Elijah. We
      know what significance the prophet Elijah had for the people of the
      Old Testament, and therewith for all mankind; we know how he set
      before them the goal and destiny of their existence. And we have
      shown how in the course of time the being who was present in Elijah
      appeared again at the very most important moment of human evolution,
      appeared again so that Christ Jesus Himself could give him the
      Initiation he was to receive for the evolution of mankind. For the
      being of Elijah appeared again in Lazarus-John--who are in truth one
      and the same figure, as you will have understood from my book
      *Christianity as Mystical Fact."
      And further we saw that this being appears once more in that
      world painter who let his artistic power unfold in marvellous depths
      of tenderness, as it moved hovering over the Mystery of Golgotha.
      And we saw how the deeply Christian impulse that lived in Raphael,
      as it were impelling into colour and form the very nature and being
      of Christianity itself--we saw how this impulse rose again in the
      poet Novalis. In the poet Novalis stands revealed in wondrously
      beautiful worlds what Raphael had placed before mankind in colours
      and forms of rarest loveliness. We see, thus following one another
      in time, beings who are brought together into a unity when
      incarnation is understood.
      We know (for I have often spoken with you of these things) how,
      when man has gone through the gate of death, he enters the world of
      the stars. What we are accustomed to call "stars" in the external,
      physical sense are no more than the outer sign and symbol of
      spiritual worlds which look down upon us and take their share and
      part in all the deeds of the evolution of mankind.
      We know that man passes through the Moon sphere and through the
      spheres of Mercury and Venus, through the spheres of the Sun and of
      Mars, and of Jupiter and Saturn. And we know that when, together
      with the beings of these spheres and together too with other human
      souls who have also departed from the life on Earth, he has
      elaborated his karma, he then turns back again to earthly existence.
      Bearing this in mind, let us look for a moment at Raphael and
      see how he passes through the gate of death, and how he enters the
      realm of the starry worlds, the realm of spiritual evolution, taking
      with him the power of his art, which already on Earth shone with the
      bright light of the stars. We behold, my dear friends, how Raphael
      enters the Moon sphere, and we see how he comes into association
      here with the Spirits who live in the Moon sphere and who are the
      spiritual Individualities of the great original Leaders of mankind,
      with whose wisdom Raphael, as Elijah, had been deeply inspired. He
      meets these Moon Beings, and he meets too all the souls with whom he
      has lived in earlier stages of Earth-evolution. We see how he unites
      himself spiritually with the spiritual origin of the Earth, with
      that World of Being which first made it possible for man to be, and
      for the Earthly to be impregnated with the Divine. We behold Raphael
      as it were completely "at home", united with those with whom he had
      most loved to be in the Elijah existence, inasmuch as it was They
      who at the beginning of Earth existence set the goal for the life of
      this Earth.
      Then we behold him wander through the Mercury sphere where, in
      association with the great Cosmic Healers, he transforms for his
      spirituality the power that had been his to create what is so
      infinitely whole and healthy in colour and line. All that he has
      painted, whether on canvas or as a fresco on the wall, for the help
      and comfort as wellas for the unending inspiration of such as can
      understand--all his work that was so radiant with light, showed
      itself now to him in the great cosmic connection in which it is able
      to stand when it passes through the Beings of the Mercury sphere.
      And thus was he, who on Earth had unfolded so great a love for
      art, whose soul had been aflame with love for colour and for line,
      transplanted now into the sphere of Venus, which in turn lovingly
      bore him across to the Sun, to that Sun existence which lived in all

      his incarnations so far as they are yet known to us. For it was from
      the Sun that he, as the prophet Elijah, brought to mankind through
      the medium of his own people the truths that belong to the goals of
      We see how in the Sun sphere he is able to live through over
      again in a deep and intimate sense--in another way now than when he
      was on Earth as a companion of Christ Jesus--he is able to live over
      again what he underwent when, through the Initiation of Christ
      Jesus, he, Lazarus, became John.
      And all that he has painted in shining light for the followers
      of Christ Jesus,--he now beholds all this pour its rays into the
      cosmic transformation of the human heart.
      And we see further how what he thus had at the foundation of his
      life penetrates, wisdom-filled, the sphere of Jupiter. In this
      sphere he is able in wisdom to enter into a relation of
      understanding with such spirits as Goethe--the spirit, that is, that
      afterwards became Goethe--as well as also with spirits who had gone
      astray on other paths, but who nevertheless led over World Being and
      World Thought into the realm of the magical. The foundation is laid
      for his magic idealism in the experience he had of the evolution of
      the later Eliphas Levi. And we behold too how he partakes in all
      that was living there in Swedenborg.
      And now I must draw your attention to something in the life of
      Raphael that is of very great significance. A personality who was
      most deeply devoted to Raphael--Hermann Grimm--set to work four
      times to write a life of Raphael. His *Life of Michelangelo* he
      brought to a beautiful completeness, but he never succeeded in
      drawing any picture of Raphael's earthly life that gave him
      satisfaction. In his own view all he wrote was unfinished and
      incomplete. The first book he undertook was intended to be a
      biography. What is it? Nothing but a reproduction of old anecdotes
      told by Vasari! No biography of Raphael at all, but something
      altogether different--a description of what Raphael became on Earth
      after his death, in the respect and recognition of his fellow men.
      Hermann Grimm relates what people have thought of Raphael--what the
      Italians, the French, the Germans have thought of Raphael in the
      course of history through the centuries. What he gives us is a
      biography of the Raphael Thought as it has lived here on Earth since
      his death. He finds the way to tell what remains of Raphael in the
      hearts and minds of men, what lives of him still in their reverence
      and understanding. But he does not find the possibility to give a
      picture of the earthly life of Raphael.
      After Hermann Grimm has made the attempt four times over, he
      says: All that one can really do for Raphael as a personality is to
      write of how one picture passes over into the next, as though it had
      been painted by a supersensible being who had simply not touched the
      Earth at all with his earthly life. The pictures are there, and one
      can look right away from Raphael who painted the pictures and
      reproduce the sequence of what is expressed in their inner content.
      And so, shortly before his death, Hermann Grimm began to speak
      once again about Raphael; yet once more he made the attempt to put
      pen to paper and write about him. This time however he spoke only of
      his pictures and not about the earthly personality of Raphael at
      The truth is, my dear friends, this earthly personality of
      Raphael was completely yielded up and was only present through what
      Lazarus-John gave to this soul to be poured out into colour and line
      for all mankind.
      Such was the life of this being. And it was so, that this
      Raphael life could only be, as it were, absolved in another life of
      thirty years--in Novalis. And so we see Raphael die young, Novalis
      die young--one being, who came forth from Elijah-John, appearing
      before mankind in two different forms, preparing through art and
      through poetry the true Michael mood of soul, sent down by the
      Michael stream as messenger to men on Earth.
      And now we behold the wonderful artistic power of Raphael come
      to life again in Novalis in poetry that stirs and enraptures the
      hearts of men. All that through Raphael was given to human eyes to
      see,--of this could human hearts drink deep, when it came again in
      When we consider the life of Novalis, what an echo we find there
      of the Raphael life for which Hermann Grimm had so fine an
      understanding! His beloved dies in her youth. He is himself still
      young. What is he going to do with his life now that she has died?
      He tells us himself. He says that his life on Earth will be
      henceforth to "die after her", to follow her on the way to death. He
      wants to pass over already now into the supersensible, to lead again
      the Raphael life, not touching the Earth, but living out in poetry
      his magic idealism. He would fain not let himself be touched by
      Earth life.
      When we read the *Fragments* of Novalis, and give ourselves up
      to the life that flows so abundantly in them, we can discover the
      secret of the deep impression they make on us. Whatever we have
      before us in immediate sense-reality, whatever the eye can see and
      recognise as beautiful--all this, through the magic idealism that
      lives in the soul of Novalis, appears in his poetry with a well-nigh
      heavenly splendour. The meanest and simplest material thing--with
      the magic idealism of his poetry he can make it live again in all
      its spiritual light and glory.
      And so we see in Novalis a radiant and splendid forerunner of
      that Michael stream which is now to lead you all, my dear friends,
      while you live; and then, after you have gone through the gate of
      death, you will find in the spiritual supersensible worlds all those
      others--among them also the being of whom I have been speaking to
      you today--all those with whom you are to prepare the work that
      shall be accomplished at the end of the century, and that shall lead
      mankind past the great crisis in which it is involved.
      This work is: to let the Michael Power and the Michael Will
      penetrate the whole of life. The Michael Power and the Michael Will
      are none other than the Christ Will and the Christ Power, going
      before in order to implant in the right way into the Earth the Power
      of the Christ. If this Michael Power is able verily to overcome all
      that is of the demon and the dragon (and you well know what that
      is), if you all, who have in this way received in the light Michael
      Thought, have indeed received it with true and faithful heart and
      with tender love, and will endeavour to go forward from the Michael
      mood of this year, until not only is the Michael Thought revealed in
      your soul, but you are able also to make the Michael Thought live in
      your deeds in all its strength and all its power--if this is so,
      then will you be true servants of the Michael Thought, worthy
      helpers of what has now to enter Earth-evolution through
      Anthroposophy, and take its place there in the meaning of Michael.
      If, in the near future, in four times twelve human beings, the
      Michael Thought becomes fully alive--foud times twelve human beings,
      that is, who are recognised not by themselves but by the Leadership
      of the Goetheanum in Dornach--if in four times twelve such human
      beings, leaders arise having the mood of soul that belongs to the
      Michael festival, then we can look up to the light that through the
      Michael stream and the Michael activity will be shed abroad in the
      future among mankind.
      Because this is so, my dear friends, I have made the effort
      today to rise up and speak to you, if only in these few short words.
      My strength is not sufficient for more today. May the words so speak
      to your soul that you receive the Michael Thought in the sense of
      what a faithful follower of Michael may feel when, clothed in the
      light rays of the Sun, Michael appears and points us to that which
      must now take place. For it must even be so that this Michael
      garment, this garment of Light, shall become the Words of the
      Worlds, which are the Christ Words--the Words of the Worlds, which
      can transform the Logos of the Worlds into the Logos of Mankind.
      Therefore let my words to you today be these:

      Springing from Powers of the Sun,
      Radiant Spirit-powers, blessing all Worlds!
      For Michael's garment of rays
      Ye are predestined by Thought Divine.

      He, the Christ-messenger, revealeth in you..
      Bearing mankind aloft--the sacred Will of Worlds.
      Ye, the radiant Beings of Aether-Worlds,
      Bear the Christ-Word to Man.

      Thus shall the Herald of Christ appear
      To the thirstily waiting souls,
      To whom your Word of Light shines forth
      In cosmic age of Spirit-Man.

      Ye, the disciples of Spirit-Knowledge,
      Take Michael's Wisdom beckoning,
      Take the Word of Love of the Will of Worlds
      Into your soul's aspiring, actively!

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