References to Somnambulism
SEPTEMBER 16, 1924
"Suppose the sick person, the physically sick person, is in the former condition I was describing and dips down with the spirit and soul into the physical-etheric body and then experiences the illness in a somnambulistic condition. The sick person experiences a strong catabolic process going on in the physical-etheric body, a kind of reverse process of nature. But now suppose the person is outside the physical body with the astral body and ego. Then the person has experiences of the spiritual aspect of external nature. Suppose the person experiences a sick organ inwardly sick because it allows some outer process to occur in an unhealthy way. This is experienced in the somnambulistic state, and the inner process is described. If the person is in the opposite condition, the somnambulism works into the ego and astral body when these are farther out of the physical and etheric body. If the spiritual, elemental life of nature comes into dreams, the person experiences what is spiritual in the minerals. And what does the person dream about? The person dreams of the medicinal remedy. Here you have the connection between many aspects of somnambulistic life. The somnambulist alternates between two conditions, as I have described. In one condition dreaming of the illness, in the other condition dreaming of the remedy. And generally speaking, that is the way pathology and therapy were explored in the old mysteries.
"In those times there was not so much experimenting as there is today. The sick person was brought into the temple and put into a kind of somnambulistic condition by trained temple priests. This condition was increased to the level at which the sick person could describe the process of the illness. Then the opposite somnambulistic condition was brought about, and the temple priest was told the dream that contained the therapy. This was the manner of inquiry in the oldest mysteries; it led from disease to cure. And so it was that medical science was cultivated in olden times, by seeking knowledge of humanity through the human being itself."
" Let us look again at the priests in the ancient mysteries. They were not primarily interested in discovering medicinal remedies, although of course they were intensely interested in healing, for they were first and foremost a friend of humanity. But they did not stop at healing; they were interested in more than that. They were interested in the following: They saw that the somnambulist found his or her own remedy in dreams while in the spiritual world with the ego and astral body. The priests paid particular attention to this soul while it was in the spiritual world, and followed it back again into the body. And what was found? Of course they found themselves again confronting the sick organ. But now, from what they had perceived of that soul while it was out of the body, they knew how the astral body and ego would work in this organ if it were healthy. Upon returning again to the sick organ, they knew what the situation would be under healthy conditions. Now they realized how the astral body and ego out of their divine-spiritual powers take hold normally in the human organism, how they sit normally within it. The priests learned to know them in their healthy normality through the dreams in the spiritual world, and learned how they relate to the physical world when they descend into the physical body. From this, the priests learned to know the inner relation of humanity to the spiritual world."
The Riddle of Humanity
Dornach, 30 July 1916
All the things that are consciously or unconsciously thought by our heads and felt by our hearts, in short, everything connected with our waking consciousness corresponds to the movement of the stars. What, then, corresponds to the things that go on in our more dreamlike or fantasy-filled states of consciousness and often fill our more inspired moods? These latter correspond more to the elemental world of natural events, the world on which such things as thunder and storms and hail and earthquakes depend. And in this fashion we can look deeply into nature. It begins to appear to us as it has appeared to men who are to some degree initiated and who have always asked, `What, then, is this part of nature that is not regulated by the regular course of the sun and moon and their like this part of nature that does not proceed regularly or in accordance with rules? What is this nature of rain, of hail, of storms, of thunder, of earthquake, of volcanic eruption?' And these initiates have always answered, `Here nature appears as a somnambulist!'
And now let us look up at the procession of the stars. In its regular, numerical relationships, as in its occult connections, it presents us with the macrocosmic representation of our waking consciousness. Then let us contemplate our dream consciousness and everything that is to a greater or lesser degree expressed there. There we find mirrored all the irregular happenings of the external world. Looking up to the heavens, we behold the external, macrocosmic representation of our waking consciousness. Looking down towards the Earth and its manifestations, we find nature as a somnambulist, a somnambulistic dreamer, who is the mirror and the outer picture of what goes on in the depths of our souls. Our waking spirit thinks in accordance with astronomy. Our dreaming, fantasy-filled, often somnambulistic soul lives and weaves in harmony with the great, somnambulistic consciousness of earthly nature. That is a profound truth.
Between now and tomorrow, reflect on the extent to which astronomy is governing your waking consciousness, and the extent to which meteorology rules in your unconscious. Yesterday, Otto Weininger provided us with an example of a man in whom astronomy came to expression only to be obscured by meteorological clouds. We will speak further about this tomorrow.
Foundations of Esotericism
The sixth is the astral plane. On this plane the chemical ether has its life. A somnambulist perceives on the astral plane the qualities of the chemicals, the chemical characteristics, because here the chemical ether actually has its life.
Foundations of Esotericism
Berlin , 26th September 1905
The consciousness of the sleepwalker is spread out over the whole life of the environment and goes over into the other beings surrounding us. The somnambulist experiences external things within him. Now the Life-ether is the element which everywhere streams around us. The solar plexus is its mediator. If we were only able to perceive with the solar plexus we should live in intimate communion with the whole world. This is so with the invertebrate animals. For instance, such a creature feels a flower as being within itself. In the earth system the invertebrate animal is somewhat similar to the eye and ear in man. It is part of the organism. There is actually a common spiritual organism which perceives, sees, hears and so on through the invertebrate animals. The Earth-Spirit is such a common spiritual organism. Everything which we have around us is a body for this common spirit. Just as our soul creates eyes and ears in order to perceive the world, so does this common Earth-Soul create the invertebrate animals as eyes and ears in order to see and hear the world.
The Riddles of Philosophy
Modern Man and His World Conception
Through the body the soul develops its sensual consciousness. In the phenomena of hypnotism, hypnotic suggestion and somnambulism, it becomes apparent that the soul is active when the sensual consciousness is eliminated. The soul life, therefore, extends further than the realm of consciousness. It is here that du Prel arrives at the diametrically opposite position to those of the characterized philosophers of the all-embracing consciousness who believe that the limits of consciousness define at the same time the entire realm of philosophy. For du Prel, the nature of the soul is to be sought outside the circle of this consciousness. If, according to him, we observe the soul when it is active without the usual means of the senses, we have the proof that it is of a supersensible nature.
Among the means through which this can be done, du Prel and many others count, besides the observation of the above-mentioned "abnormal" psychic phenomena, also the phenomena of spiritualism. It is not necessary to dwell here on du Prel's opinion concerning this field, for what constitutes the mainspring of his view becomes apparent also if one considers only his attitude toward hypnotism, hypnotic suggestion and somnambulism. Whoever wants to prove the spiritual nature of the human soul cannot limit himself to showing that the soul has to refer to a supersensible world in its cognitive process. For natural science could answer that it does not follow that the soul is itself rooted in the supersensible realm because it has a knowledge of a supersensible world. It could very well be that knowledge of the supersensible could also be dependent on the activity of the body and thus be of significance only for a soul that is bound to a body. It is for this reason that du Prel feels it necessary to show that the soul not only knows the supersensible while it is itself bound to the body, but that it experiences the supersensible while it is outside the body. With this view, he also arms himself against objections that can be raised from the viewpoint of the natural scientific mode of thinking against the conceptions of Eucken, Dilthey, Cohen, Kinkel and other defenders of a knowledge of a spiritual world. He is, however, not protected against the doubts that must be raised against his own procedure.
Although it is true that the soul can find an access to the supersensible only if it can show how it is itself active outside the sensual realm, the emancipation of the soul from the sensual world is not assured by the phenomena of hypnotism, somnambulism and hypnotic suggestion, nor by all other processes to which du Prel refers for this purpose. In regard to all these phenomena it can be said that the philosopher who wants to explain them still proceeds only with the means of his ordinary consciousness. If this consciousness is to be useless for a real explanation of the world, how can its explanations, which are applied to the phenomena according to the conditions of this consciousness, be of any decisive significance for these phenomena? What is peculiar in du Prel is the fact that he directs his attention to certain facts that point to a supersensible element, but that he, nevertheless, wants to remain entirely on the ground of the natural scientific mode of thought when he explains those facts. But should it not be necessary for the soul to enter the supersensible in its mode of thinking when the supersensible becomes the object of its interest? Du Prel looks at the supersensible, but as an observer he remains within the realm of the sensual world. If he did not want to do this, he would have to demand that only a hypnotized person can say the right things concerning his experiences under hypnosis, that only in the state of somnambulism could knowledge concerning the supersensible be acquired and that what the not-hypnotized, the non-somnambulist must think concerning these phenomena is of no validity. If we follow this thought consistently, we arrive at an impossibility. If one speaks of a transposition of the soul outside the realm of the senses into another form of existence, one must intend to acquire the knowledge of this existence within that other region. Du Prel points at a path that must be taken in order to gain access to the supersensible. But he leaves the question open regarding the means that are to be used on this path.