Egyptian Myths and Mysteries
I’ve been reading Rudolf Steiner’s series of lectures from 1908, in which he compares Egyptian knowledge to be the same as that which is echoed in our own times.
None of this is new to me, of course, but the knowledge he shared is helpful when I try to look back over the course of human evolution to see spiritually what took place. What I didn’t expect was that the very last pages would reveal the answer to what one person from our Faith & Science group asked during our last meeting, ten days ago.
Catacombs in Rome
Graham’s question concerned why Caroline Myss should have a dream about the catacombs which then started her journey towards the writing of Entering the Castle (as documented in that book). He could not understand why that should be the ‘starting point for Christianity’.
So imagine my surprise when I read this in Steiner’s book:
Let us place a picture before our soul. One often hears it said, “Oh, those seekers for the spirit! They assemble in their lodges and pursue all kinds of fantastic rubbish. A person of really modern views can have no part in that.” The adherents of the science of the spirit sometimes seem to be a sort of pariah class, regarded as uneducated and untrained. Should we be discouraged because of this? No. We shall place a picture before our souls and arouse the feelings that are connected with it. We can recall something similar in past times; how something similar occurred in ancient Rome. We can see how, in ancient Rome, primitive Christianity spread among a despised class of people. We look with legitimate delight today on such things as the Colosseum constructed by imperial Rome. But we can also look at the people who then regarded themselves as the choicest of their time; we can see how they sat in the Circus and watched while the Christians were burned in the arena and incense was kindled to quench the stink of the burning bodies.
Now let us look at those despised ones. They lived in the catacombs, in underground passages. There they erected the first Christian altars on the graves of their dead. There below they had their wonderful symbols and shrines. A strange feeling seizes us today when we walk through the catacombs, through that despised underground Rome. The Christians knew what awaited them. That first germ of the Christ-impulse on earth, confined to the catacombs, was despised. But what remains of imperial Rome?
It has disappeared from the earth, while what then lived in the catacombs has been exalted.
Let us hope that those who today wish to make themselves the bearers of a spiritual worldview may preserve the confidence of the first Christians. The representatives of the science of the spirit may be despised by contemporary academic learning, but they know that they are working for what will bloom and thrive in the future. Let them learn to endure all the vexations of the present day. We are working into the future. This we may feel confidently and without arrogance, firm against the misunderstandings of our time.
So, for those who are still working towards this eventuality, take heart that 111 years later, we are still misunderstood, but “the Universe is unfolding as it should…”