The Role of Women in Gabriel's Work
Much that emerges, in modern conversation, as an awareness of injustice in the history of human society loses contact with a perspective that can contribute to the constructive pursuit of justice when it fails to take into account the way in which different periods of human spiritual development demanded different kinds of work from the hierarchical beings whose role it is to bring, in an orderly manner, all those qualities into human experience and human nature that are necessary to its attaining its ultimate destiny: that of the Tenth Hierarchy. Once it is grasped that the contributions of different divine beings result in a process of development that is characterized, at different times, by different areas of emphasis, as it were, in what precisely needs to be worked upon by those beings contributing to this development, much that can be the source of great unrest and even anger and hatred becomes, instead, subject to penetration by the light of a wisdom that can inspire human deeds furthering divine purposes.
An example of a period in history that is often made reference to in ways that spring from the inability, or the failure, to become conscious of what is really at work in human spiritual development in various epochs is that which has come to be known as the “Victorian.” The word “Puritan” gives us another example of something that, in the course of the last century especially, has come to be understood by many in a negative light. Many modern speakers make use of the terms “Victorian” and “Puritan” to awaken in their listeners the feeling of something that restricted human freedom in the sexual life; in the context of our contemporary culture, this is frequently experienced as something unjustified, an expression of an impulse inimical to human spiritual well-being.
For those who, in spite of the spirit of freedom in matters sexual that prevails in our time, are able to maintain, or to regain, a consciousness of what depths of purity have always, in a feeling way, been accessible to those who immersed themselves in contemplation of the mystery of the Annunciation to Mary by Gabriel, it is possible that a truer sense of what was at work in the life of the Puritans, as in that of many who lived during the Victorian era, may make itself felt. “Purity” is a hard word for Western civilization in the twenty-first century; and yet, it is purity that Gabriel works to inspire, not out of some moralistic impulse, but because it is only through the purity of the soul that the Christ-impulse can make its way into the lower sheaths, whose transformation is the ultimate purpose of all human spiritual evolution. Blessed, thus, are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Thus, in periods or in social circumstances where Gabriel's influence is strongly present, there is an emphasis on the spiritual dangers of adultery. The adulteration of the purity of the soul: this is what Gabriel works to prevent.
The work of divine beings is always subject, however, to what flows from realms that are characterized by an impulse of opposition to the regular progress of human spiritual development. Those prone to thinking in simplistic terms about such matters will tend to look for this opposition in people or cultural phenomena that seem to them to be opposed to what they understand “the good beings” to be about; thus the men who wanted to stone the adulteress saw her as a representative of the opposition to what is good. In reality, however, the forces we are here referring to as oppositional to divine purposes manifest their activity far more powerfully in the taking over of the terminology that originates with the inspiration of divine beings for purposes contrary to the interests of the latter than in any direct work to “seduce” man this way or that. Thus, there is an impulse that seeks to imbue the word “purity” with connotations of total freedom from any and all sexual desire; and another that pronounces any and all striving for “purity” a delusional attempt to suppress human nature. In the sexual realm more than any other, what is demanded of anthroposophists who can grasp Steiner's admonitions regarding the necessity to gain the capacity to come to judgements that are free from every trace of sympathy and antipathy is that they pursue an awareness of just what “purity” means when spoken under the inspiration of a being such as Gabriel:
That we do not permit the adulteration of the purity of our soul means, that we do what lies in our power and capacity, as these emerge out of the circumstances of our upbringing and time, to prevent the flowing into the life of feeling and the life of thought impulses that can pull us away from the centrality of our soul’s attention to what we know of the divine. Where Michael’s impulse is to penetrate, by purely spiritual means, all influences upon the life of the soul with the clarity of a conscious thinking that is developing the power to fathom their origin, and to rely upon human freedom to act in accordance with what moral intuition can give as an impulse for action out of cognitions arising in this way, Gabriel has the task of helping individuals by shielding them from what may bring them harm by intervening in the sphere of moral intuitions through an emphasis on attendance to what they have been taught as moral edicts. In this sense, Gabriel inspires an attitude towards the word that is different than, but not opposed to, Michael's; indeed, the very significance of the period of Gabriel’s rulership preceding that of Michael is to be found in the way in which Gabriel’s work, by strengthening the constitution of the lower sheaths through the soul’s focus on the moral power of inspired words, prepares man, in the on-going cycles of the work of the archangelic beings responsible for Earth's progression, for the higher influence of Michael and his hosts, who, on the moral foundation prepared by Gabriel, are free to address man's higher nature directly. Thus, the period of Gabriel's rulership in the period ending approximately with the carrying away of the Jews into exile in Babylon was also one of powerful moral impulses flowing into humanity through Old Testament prophets; this prepared the ground, then, for Michael’s work in the emerging Greek civilization that was later to become the basis of European civilization.
In our last chapter, we looked at the distinction that has come to exist, in the long course of human spiritual evolution, between the way in which men’s relationship to speech and the time into which it brings its impulses has come to differ from those incarnating as women. Whereas Gabriel views the male human being as responsible to be a recipient of the impulses from his superiors, the Time Spirits, he sees the female human being as responsible in a different way: to cultivate, in silence, the capacity to receive the words of inspired men and to “treasure them up in her heart”, permitting what they convey as the spiritual demands of the time to sink into her lower sheaths as a force that can transform the process of conception.
Seen in this light, the attitude of Puritan women towards their husbands, and that of even so powerful a monarch as Queen Victoria to her husband, a German prince with no outward authority to command her respect, may be experienced as flowing from exactly the impulses one would expect to be able to witness as the manifestation of the rulership of a being such as Gabriel, in the period from the death of King Henry VIII until 1879. The fact that Gabriel is also the folk soul of the English people should also contribute, for those able to comprehend it in the depths of its significance for all that has transpired since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, to a correct understanding of these matters. Especially, then, if we consider the relationship of the culture of England to that of America, and the culture of Greece to what later emerged as German civilization, we come upon a deep secret that lies behind the tragedy of World War I and the way in which it interrupted what was unfolding as the central work on behalf of Michael being done by Rudolf Steiner and his associates: that America inherited from England a sense of destiny connected to that of ancient Israel when it was under Gabriel's guidance, just as the German-speaking peoples were to fulfill a destiny connected to the emergence of ancient Greek culture under Michael’s. The experience of America's “Founding Fathers” as fulfilling a destiny already declared by the Puritans in their escape to the “Promised Land” from centuries of European hostility toward religious independence, and Goethe and Schiller’s profound experience of the spirit of Greek civilization which came to imbue their own dialogue and striving in ways commented upon by Rudolf Steiner as essential to what they had to bring as the flower of German civilization: both occurred in the decades leading up to the turn of the 19th century, so heavy with promise.
It was during this century (Joseph Smith was born in the year of Schiller's death) that Gabriel’s work came to fruition in what emerged as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which understands itself precisely as the restored Israel, whose mission it is to preserve the fundamental impulse for purity to mankind that has, more and more, gotten lost in the ages since the death of Christ’s apostles. What was able, then, to descend as the incarnation of the School of Michael once Gabriel’s rulership had given way to that of the Custodian of the Cosmic Intelligence can only be properly understood as possible due to the sacrifice of Joseph Smith and those who gathered in support of what was necessary as preparation for Michael's advent.
This period of Gabriel’s preparation began, earlier, with the ascent to the throne of a young English prince whose own conception had taken place under Gabriel’s direct guidance, in the period just before he would ascend from his work on the Earth during the period of his predecessor, Samael’s, rulership to take his own place as the being responsible for the guidance of events beyond the local level upon which the archangels work, in building up their respective peoples, when they are not in a period of such rulership. Seen in this light, Henry VIII’s difficult struggles with the women known to history as victims of his ambitious selfishness can be grasped as resulting from the wrestle of various powers that characterized exactly the period of Samael’s--the Mars genius’--rulership, under which the Protestant Reformation finally occurred as an answer to dilemmas given birth in the course of the spiritual battles around Romanized Catholicism and the threat to it and broader Christendom posed by the movement founded by Muhammad. The promise of Edward VI’s reign being quickly squelched by machinations flowing from spheres into whose workings there is no space to enter here, what ensued was the incorporation, in essence, of all that had occurred cosmically to give rise to the division between Protestant and Catholic, in the persons of two women, Elizabeth I of England, and her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots. (In the relationship between Elizabeth and her Catholic elder half-sister and short-lived predecessor on the throne, Mary I, one finds expressed the beginnings of just this powerfully active, fate-bearing dynamic.)
In a later chapter, we will face the implications, for 21st century initiation science, of the movement of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and its origins. His introduction here is necessary because he worked out of Gabriel’s impulse--in a way that was guided, as we will see, by another of the leading archangels, Oriphiel--and, in the context of such work, was led to experiences in the world of souls that produced a certain teaching, one which, though it cannot stand before the full illuminating power of spiritual-scientific insight flowing from the highest supersensible spheres, authentically represented a fundamental concern of the Moon-being Gabriel, who works so closely with impulses that continue to flow from the divine Jehovah: that an earlier Elizabeth and an earlier Mary, the mother of John the Baptist and the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, failed to come to the kind of unity with one another that could have, according to Rev. Moon, produced a different destiny for mankind that what he has experienced as grace flowing from the Resurrection of the crucified Christ. From this perspective--one out of all accord, of course, with the one we are given in Steiner’s work out of the highest dimensions of supersensible consciousness, but utterly in accord with what can be understood as the perspective held by such beings as the Spirits of Personality of regular development--a kind of jealousy arose between these two mothers that prevented John and Jesus from growing up together and fulfilling, together, a work that might have emerged had John not felt it his destiny to decrease, but to increase together with his half-brother Jesus, born, according to Rev. Moon, out of the adulterous relationship of Mary with Elizabeth’s husband, Zachariah.
Gasps of protest from devoted adherents to the religious impulse of the Christian Community notwithstanding, an appeal must be made to those called to the equanimity characterizing spiritual-scientific striving that they hold in abeyance what must inevitably arise, for many, as the greatest antipathy to such a teaching until they have grasped the way in which it does represent an impulse flowing from Gabriel’s divine influence in this age. We are living in a time when all that flows from personality has taken the upper hand in every dimension of the cultural, economic, and political life. The viewpoint of the Spirits of Personality is one that springs from concern for the human individual in his capacity to develop this personality in accordance with the highest potential of the human race. Gabriel’s service to these spirits--his direct superiors in the ranks of the Hierarchies--has been to bring to bear the inspiration to the life of feeling that can support such a will. It is the Hierarchic ranks above the Third Hierarchy, to which Gabriel and the Time Spirits belong, from whose perspective it is possible to grasp what is mistaken in Rev. Moon’s teaching; but in the twentieth century it became essential that the will to human perfection succeed in penetrating all that had descended as opposition to this since the death of Rudolf Steiner. In perfection, John the Baptist would not have seen Christ as greater than he in any way that would have prevented him from uniting completely with him as an equal in heart, empowered by that equality to stay side-by-side with him throughout his mission after the Baptism in the Jordan. Rev. Moon was speaking under an authentically divine inspiration when he suggested that, rather than criticize Herodias for her own sexual transgression with Herod, John might have joined with Christ in the spirit that could produce forgiveness for the adulteress. Acts accused as adultery in an outward sense, as Rev. Moon points out, occurred more than once in the lineage of Jesus.
With this as background, we can be helped towards fruitful insight into the role of women under Gabriel’s rulership during the last period of his preparation for the emergence of Michael’s School on the earth. From the perspective that sees what could emerge if human perfection alone could vanquish all opposition to the Christ impulse--and, again, the beings of the Third Hierarchy are concerned with this perfection as an on-going ideal for all spiritual striving; left up to them, the grace of repeated earthly lives would not be possible--the unity of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots could have prevented the necessity for what unfolded, on the outer plane of human history, as the Thirty Years’ War, a conflict which, like World War I at a later time, interfered tragically with what was seeking to make itself felt as the Rosicrucian impulse in a certain part of Europe. In this time now, we are faced with another conflict emergent on the world plane, one that flows, in its own way, from a far more ancient jealousy between two mothers: Sarah and Hagar; and, as in the past, so now, this conflict threatens what is trying to survive as the impulse for Rosicrucian-imbued development in the remnants of Western European civilization. That Islam found its inspiration, according to its own founder, from this same Gabriel, is a thought with which we are called, as anthroposophists, to wrestle profoundly when we see the way in which he works under Jehovah’s guidance.
Those who have been tempted to accuse Joseph Smith and his successor, Brigham Young, with impurity of soul in their acceptance of the inspiration for a Mormon civilization founded, to begin with, upon the practice, among a few, of polygamy would do well to ponder more deeply the reasons for Christ’s admonition to take the plank out of one’s own eye before seeking to help one’s brother with the speck in his: to grasp the way in which just this inspiration provided the opportunity for a depth of love to emerge between women that had the power to cleanse their astral sheaths of a certain inheritance--the proneness to jealousy--from predecessors like Sarah and Hagar demands a purity of soul in the observer that corresponds to just what Gabriel’s work, as we have seen, strives to accomplish, in preparation for the descent of the potential for the freedom of moral intuition.