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Four Mystery Plays

Rudolf Steiner e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

Mystery Plays
Main Index
Cover Sheet
1. Portal
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
Scene 11
2. Probation
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
Scene 11
Scene 12
Scene 13
3. Guardian
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
4. Awakening
Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4
Scene 5
Scene 6
Scene 7
Scene 8
Scene 9
Scene 10
Scene 11
Scene 12
Scene 13
Scene 14
Scene 15

Four Mystery Plays

The Soul's Awakening

Scene 2

Mountainous country; in the distance, Hilary's house, in the vicinity of the workshops, which are not seen. Hilary's house has no upper floor; no corners or angles, and is crescent shaped. A waterfall on the left of the stage, facing audience. A rivulet runs from the waterfall between little rocks across the stage.

Johannes is seen sitting on a rock to right, ignorant of the presence of Capesius, on the left of stage.

The towering masses with their silent life
Brim up the air with riddles manifold,
Yet ask no maddening questions such as slay
A soul that seeks not for experience
But only for serenity in which
It may behold life's revelation clear.
See how these colours play among these cliffs,
How calmly dumb the bare expanses lie,
How twilight clothes the woods in green and blue;
This is the world in which Johannes' soul
Will rest and weave to-morrow's fantasies.

Johannes' soul shall feel within itself
The depths and distances of this its world;
And by creative powers this soul shall be
Delivered of its hidden energy
And make known that the world's enchantment is
Only appearance glorified by art.
Yet could Johannes ne'er accomplish this
Did not Maria through her love awake
With gentle soul-warmth forces in his soul.
I must acknowledge fate's wise leadership
In drawing me so closely unto her.
How short a time it is since I have known
That she is by my side; how closely knit
Hath been in these few weeks Johannes' soul
Into a living unity with hers.
As spirit she lives in me though far off;
She thinks within my thought when I call up
Before my soul the objects of my will.

(Maria appears as a thought of Johannes.)

Maria here before me! but how strange!
She must not thus reveal herself to me!
This stern cold spirit-face, this dignity
That chills my earthly feelings —
'tis not thus Johannes will or can Maria see
Draw nigh to him. 'Tis not Maria — this —
Whom by kind fate's decree wise powers have sent.

(Maria disappears from Johannes' vision.)

Where is Maria whom Johannes loved
Before she had transformed his soul in him
And led it up to ice-cold spirit-heights?

And where Johannes, whom Maria loved,
Where is he now? — He was at hand e'en now.
I see no more Johannes, who did give
Me back unto myself with joy. The past
Cannot and shall not rob me of him thus.

(Maria again appears before Johannes' vision.)

Maria as thou fain wouldst her behold
Lives not in worlds where shines the light of truth.
Johannes' spirit treads illusion's realm
By fantasy misled; set thyself free
From strong desire and its alluring power.
I feel in me the turmoil of thy soul;
It robs me of the calmness that I need.
'Tis not Johannes who directs the storm
Into my soul; it is another being,
O'er whom he was victorious in the past.
Now as a wraith it roams the spirit-plains; —
Once known for such, it straight will fade away.

That is Maria as she really is,
Who of Johannes speaks as he appears
To his own vision at the present time.
Long since into another form he rose
Than that which errant fancy paints for me
Because I am content to let my soul
Amuse itself with dreams in slothful ease.
But not yet doth this being hold me fast.
Escape from him I still can — and I will —
He often calls me to his side and strives
To win me for myself by his own powers —
Vet will I strive to free myself from him.
Long years ago he flooded my soul's depth
With spirit being; none the less to-day
No more do I desire to harbour him.

Thou stranger being in Johannes' soul
Forsake me — give me back my pristine self
Before thou didst commence thy work in me.
I would behold Johannes free of thee.

(Benedictus appears at Maria's side, equally as a thought of Johannes.)

Johannes, heed the warning of thy soul;
The man who, flooding thee with spirit, rose
To be thy nature's primal energy,
Must at thy side still hold his faithful sway
And claim that thou transform his being's powers
Through thy will into human deeds. He must
Himself concealed, work out his task in thee,
That thou some day mayst reach what thou dost know
To be thy being's distant future goal.
Thy personal sorrow thou must bear through life
Fast locked within the chamber of thy soul.
So only shalt thou win thyself, if thou
Dost bravely let him own thee more and more.

Maria (seen as a thought of Johannes):
My holy earnest vow doth pour out strength,
Which shall preserve for thee what thou hast won.
Me shalt thou find in those cold fields of ice,
Where spirits must create light for themselves,
When darkness wounds and maims the powers of life.
Seek me within those cosmic depths where souls
Wrestle to win God-knowledge for themselves
By conquest that wins being from the void;
But never seek me in the realm of shades,
Where outlived soul-experience wins by guile
A transient life from out illusion's web,
And dream's frail phantoms can the spirit cheat;
So that in pleasure it forgets itself
And looks on serious effort with distaste.

(Benedictus and Maria disappear.)

She saith illusion ...
... yet 'tis passing fair.
It lives; Johannes feels in it himself,
He feels Maria's nearness in him too.
Johannes would not know how spirit works
To solve the riddles of the soul's dark depths.
He would create and would as artist work.
So may that part of him still lie concealed,
Which consciously would gaze on cosmic heights,

(He sinks into further meditation.)

(Capesius rises from his seat; as it were arousing himself out of deep thought.)

Did I not clearly feel within my soul
That which Johannes, dreaming over there,
Wrought as the pictures of his longing heart?
Within me glowed to life thoughts not mine own —
Such as he only could originate.
The being of his soul lived in mine own,
I saw him younger grown, as he beheld
Himself through vain illusion, and did mock
The ripe fruits that his spirit had achieved.

But hold! Why do I now experience this?
For seldom may the spirit-searcher see
The being in himself of other souls.

I mind, that Benedictus often said
That only he — and only for a while —
Can do this, whose good destiny ordains
That he shall be upraised one further step
Upon the spirit path. May I thus read
The meaning of what happened even now?
Seldom indeed could this thing be allowed;
For 'twould be terrible if aye the seer
Could see the inner being of men's souls.

Did I see truly? — or could it have been
Illusion let me dream another's soul?
I must enquire from Johannes' self.

(Capesius approaches Johannes, who now notices him for the first time.)

Capesius — I thought thee far from here.

Yet my soul felt. itself quite near to thine.

Near mine — at such a time — it cannot be!

Why dost thou shudder at these words of mine?

I do not shudder ...

(At this moment Maria joins them; this enables both Johannes and Capesius to speak their next words to themselves.)

(To himself):
... how his steady glance
Doth pierce me to mine inmost depth of soul.

Capesius (to himself):
His shudder shows me that I saw aright.

(turning to Maria.)

Maria, thou dost come in fitting time.
Perhaps thy tongue may speak some word of cheer
To solve the problem which oppresseth me.

I thought to find Johannes here, not thee.
Forboding bade me seek the problem's weight
In him — but thou, I fancied, wast content,
Devoted to that glorious enterprise
Which we are offered here by Hilary.

What care I for it? It disturbs me now —

Disturbs thee? Didst thou not express delight
To think thy projects might be realized?

What I have lived through in this fateful hour
Hath changed the former purpose of my soul,
Since all activity in work on earth
Must rob me of my new clairvoyant powers.

Whoe'er is suffered to tread spirit-ways
Finds many a hint to shape his destiny.
On soul paths he will try to follow them,
Yet they have not been rightly understood
If they disturb his duties on the earth.

(Capesius sits, and is plunged in thought while the vision of Lucifer appears to Maria.)

Thine effort will not bring thee much reward,
New force begins to stir within his heart
That opes the portal of his soul to me.
Maria, gaze with thy clairvoyant sight
Upon his inmost soul; and there behold
How he doth free himself on spirit-wings
From thy warm loving bonds of work on earth.

(Lucifer remains on the scene.)

(Maria turns towards Capesius to rouse him from his meditation, but at the same moment he seems to rouse himself of his own accord.)

If on the spirit-path Johannes felt
The nature of his duties hinder him,
'Twould not be right, but 'twould be natural.
For he must work upon the outer plane.
Thy task is to expound the spirit-lore
To other men and such a task as this
Cannot impede the progress of thy soul.

Far more than when they work on outer things
Do spirit forces lose themselves in words.
Words make one reason o'er what one has seen,
And reason is a foe to seership's power.
I had a spirit-vision even now
Which only could disclose itself to me
Because the soul which was revealed to me, —
Although our earthly bodies are close friends, —
Had never been by me quite understood.
If I saw truly, I am no more bound
By any ties unto this work of earth.
For I must feel persuaded that high Powers
Now set another goal before my soul
Than that prescribed for it by Hilary.

(He places himself in front of Johannes.)

Johannes, tell me truly, didst thou not
A while ago feel old, outlived desires
That lived within thee like thy present self,
While thou wast lost in meditation deep?

Can then my spirit's struggle work to form
Experience within another's soul?
And can such vision make mine error strong
To find its way to life in cosmic space?

(Johannes again falls into meditation.)

(Maria turns her face towards Lucifer and hears him say:)

Here too I find the soul's gate open wide.
I'll not delay but use this chance at once.
If also in this soul a spirit-wish
Is born, that work of love must come to naught
Which doth bode ill to me through Hilary.
I can destroy Maria's might in him:
And thus can add her power unto mine own.

(Capesius at this moment straightens up self-consciously, and, during the following speech, shows an increasingly definite conviction.)

My doubts dissolve: that which I saw was true;
I was allowed to see Johannes' life.
So is it also clear that his world could
Only unfold itself because mine own
Ne'er sought to draw near his with Reason's power.
The spirit-path hath need of solitude,
Co-operation is but meant for those
Who reasoning, can each other understand.
For from such intercourse the soul attains
The wide dominions of the worlds of light.
Example in old Felix can I find;
He seeks on paths that none but he may know
In proud seclusion for the spirit-light.
He sought and found because he kept himself
From ever grasping things by reason's strength.
In his track will I follow, and thy work,
Which hampers seership's power with earthly things,
Shall no more lead Capesius astray.


So 'tis with man, what time his better self
Sinks into spirit-sleep and strong desire
Is all his being's food until again
True spirit-nature wakes in glowing light.
Such is the sleep all human beings sleep
Before clairvoyant powers have wakened them.
They know not they are sleeping, though awake
They seem awake, because they ever sleep.
And seers do sleep, when they would fain awake
By hast'ning forth from their true spheres of life.
Capesius will now withdraw from us.
It is no transient whim; his mental life
Draws him away from us and from our plans.
It is not he that turns himself from us;
The dread decree of fate is plainly seen.
And so we who are left must consecrate
Our powers with more devotion to our work.

Maria, do not of Johannes ask
That for new aims at such a time as this
He should gird up his soul, who like that other,
Needs spirit-sleep in which he may mature
The forces which are germinating there.
I know that I in time to come shall dare
To work for spirit-worlds — but do not now
Appeal to me for services — not now.
Think how I drove away Capesius ...
Were I ripe for this work — he would be, too.

Capesius away? Dost thou not — dream?

I dreamed while conscious, ... yea, I woke in dreams.
What would seem fantasy to cosmic powers
To me proved symbol of my present state.
Right well I know my wish was my true self;
My thinking only was another self.
And so Johannes stood before my soul
As once he was, ere spirit seized on him
And filled his being with a second self.
He is not dead; ... Johannes' living wish
Createth him companion of my soul.
I may have stunned him, but not overthrown.
A living man, he claims his natural rights
Whene'er that other self must sink to sleep.
And always to awake — exceeds its powers.
It was asleep throughout the time in which
Capesius could experience in himself
How my first nature tore me from myself.
My dreams did seem to him the sign of fate
And so in me and not in him doth work
The power which drove him forth, and which forbids
Our spirit to be turned to work on earth.

The spirit-powers are coming — call on them.
To cosmic spirit-sources turn thy gaze
And wait until the powers within those depths
Discover that within thine own true self
Which stirs with conscious life akin to theirs.
Their magic words will show thine inward sight
That which makes them and thee an unity.
Cast out thine own brain's interfering speech,
That spirit may speak in thee as it wills;
And to this spirit-speech give thou due heed.
'Twill carry thee beyond the spheres of light
And link thee to true spirit-essence there.
Thy misty visions sprung from times long past
Will then grow sharp and clear in cosmic light,
But will not bind thee since thou hast control.
Compare them with these elemental forms,
With shadows and with phantoms of all kinds,
And place them near to demons manifold
And so discover what they really are.
But in the realm of spirits root thyself,
Who primal source to primal source do bind,
Who dwell close linked with dormant cosmic powers
And order the processions of the spheres.
This view of cosmic things will give thee strength,
Amid the surging sea of spirit-life,
To blend thyself and inmost soul in one.

The spirit bids me tell thee this myself;
But now give ear to what thou knowest well
Though 'tis not wedded yet to thy soul-depths.

Johannes (still sitting on a rock to right of stage. He collects himself for a determined effort):
I will give ear — I will defy myself.

(From both sides advance elemental spirits. From the right of stage creatures like gnomes. They have steel-blue-grey bodies, small as compared with men; they are nearly all head, but it is bent forward and downward, and is lilac and purple in color, with tendrils and gills of various shades of the same hue. Their limbs are long and mobile, suitable for gesticulation, but ill-adapted for walking. From the left of stage come sylph-like figures, slender and almost headless; their feet and hands are partly fins and partly wings. Some of them are bluish-green, others yellowish-red. The yellowish-red ones are distinguished by sharper outlines than the bluish green ones. The words spoken by these figures are accompanied by expressive gestures developing into a dance.)

Chorus of the Gnomes (dancing, hopping, and gesticulating in rhythm):
We harden, we strengthen (said sharply and quickly)
The nebulous earth-dust;
We loosen, we powder
Hard-crusted earth-boulders;
Swift shatter we the hard,
Slow harden we the loose.
Such is our spirit-kind.
Of mental matter formed
Full-skilled were we before
When human souls still slept (said slowly and dreamily)
And dreamed when earth began.

Chorus of the Sylphs (a swaying motion in rhythm):
We weave and we unweave
The web of watery air;
We scatter and divide
Seed forces from the sun;
Light-force condense with care;
Fruit-powers destroy with skill;
For such is our soul-kind
From rays of feeling poured,
Which ever-living glows
That mankind may enjoy
Earth-evolution's sense.

Chorus of the Gnomes (dancing, hopping, and gesticulating in rhythm):
We titter and we laugh (said sharply and quickly)
We banter and grimace,
When stumbling human sense
And fumbling human mind
Beholds what we have made;
They think they understand
When spirits from our age
Weave charms for their dull eyes (said slowly and emphatically).

Chorus of the Sylphs (a swaying motion in rhythm):
We take care, and we tend,
Bear fruit and in spirit,
When young mankind's dawn-life
And old mankind's errors
Consume what we have made
And childlike or greyhaired
Find in time's stream dull joy
From our eternal plans.

(These spirit-beings collect in two irregular groups in the background, and remain there visible. From the right appear the three soul forces: Philia, Astrid, and Luna with ‘the Other Philia.’)

They ray out the light
As loving light-forms
To ripeness so blest,
So gently they warm
And mightily heat
Where embryo growth
Would reach actual life;
That this actual life,
May make souls rejoice
Who lovingly yield
To radiant light.

'Tis life that they weave,
And help to create,
In beings at birth;
They shatter the earth
And densify air;
That change may appear
In strenuous growth.
Such strenuous growth
Fills spirits with joy
Who feel that they weave
A life which creates.

They thoughtfully mould,
Alert to create
In flexible stuff;
They sharpen the edge
And flatten the face,
And cunningly build
The clearly-cut forms;
That clearly-cut forms
The will may inspire
With cunning to build,
Alert to create.

The Other Philia:
They gather the blooms
And use without care
The magical works;
They dream of the true,
And the seeming protect;
That germs which lie hid
May wake into life.
And clairvoyant dreams
Make clear unto souls
The magical web
That forms their own life.

(These four soul forces disappear towards the left; Johannes, who during the preceding events was deep in meditation, rouses himself.)

‘And clairvoyant dreams
Make clear unto souls
The magical web
That forms their own life.’
These are the words that still distinctly ring
Within my soul; that which I saw before
Passed in confusion out of my soul's ken.

Yet what a power stirs in me, when I think;
‘The magical web
That forms their own life.’

(He relapses once more into meditation; there appears to him as a thought form of his own a group composed of: The Spirit of Johannes' youth, with Lucifer on its right and Theodora's soul on its left.)

The Spirit of Johannes' youth:
The life within thy wishes feeds my life,
My breath drinks thirstily thy youthful dreams;
I am alive when thou dost not desire
To force thy way to worlds I cannot find.
If in thyself thou losest me, I must
Do grievous painful service to grim shades: —
O guardian of my life ... forsake me not.

He never will forsake thee, — I behold
Deep in his nature longings after light
Which cannot follow in Maria's steps.
And when the radiance which is born of them
Doth fully light Johannes' artist-soul
It must bear fruit; nor will he be content
To cast this fruit away in yonder realm
Where love divorced from beauty reigns alone.
His self will no more seem of worth to him
Which fain would cast his best gifts to the shades,
Because it sets by knowledge too much store.
When wisdom shall throw light on his desires
Their glorious worth will be revealed to him;
He only can think them of little worth
So long as they hide darkly in the soul.
Until they can attain to wisdom's light
I will be thy protector — through the light
I find deep-seated in the human soul.

He has as yet no pity for thy woes,
And ever lets thee sink among the shades
When he is striving up the heights of light.
For then he can forget that thou, his child,
Must lead a miserable phantom life.
But henceforth, thou wilt find me at thy side
When as a shade thou freezest through his fault.
I will exert my rights as Lucifer

(At the word ‘Lucifer’ the Spirit of Johannes' youth starts.)

Reserved to me by ancient cosmic law,
And occupy those depths within his soul
He leaves unguarded in his spirit-flight.
I'll bring thee treasure that will light for thee
The dark seclusion of the shadow-realms.
But thou wilt not be fully freed till he
Can once again unite himself with thee.
This act he can delay ... but not prevent.
For Lucifer will well protect his rights.

Thou spirit-child, thou liv'st Johannes' youth
In gloomy shadow-realms. To thee in love
Bends down the soul which o'er Johannes broods
From realms ablaze with light, aglow with love.
She will from thine enchantment set thee free
If thou wilt take so much of what she feels
As shall procure thee life in blessedness.
I will ally thee with the elements
Which labour unaware in cosmic space
And ne'er descend to wakefulness of soul.
With those earth-spirits thou canst fashion forms,
And with the fire-souls thou canst ray out power,
If thou wilt sacrifice thy conscious life
Unto the Will that works with light and power
But without human wisdom. So shalt thou
Preserve thy knowledge,` only half thine own,
From Lucifer, and to Johannes give
The services which are of worth to him.
From his soul's being I will bring to him
What causeth him to crave thy being's aid,
And find refreshment in the spirit-sleep.

But beauty she can ne'er bestow on thee
Since I myself dare take it far from her.

From noble feeling I will find the germ
Of beauty which grows ripe through sacrifice.

From free-will she will tear thee and instead
Give thee to spirits dwelling in the dark.

I shall awaken sight by spirit filled
That e'en from Lucifer free knows itself.

(Lucifer, Theodora, and the Spirit of " Johannes' youth disappear. Johannes, awaking from his meditation, sees ` the Other Philia approaching him,)

The Other Philia:
And clairvoyant dreams
Make clear unto souls
The magical web
That forms their own life.

Thou riddle-speaking spirit — at thy words
This world I entered! Of its mysteries.
One only-is important for my soul:
Whether, as living in the spirit worlds,
The shadow dwells who sought with Lucifer
And Theodora to be shown to me.

The Other Philia:
He lives — lives as a semblance waked by thee.
E'en as a glass in pictures loth reflect
All things by light upon its surface thrown
So must whate'er in spirit-realms thou see'st —
Ere full maturity gives thee the right
To such clairvoyance — mirrored be in life
Within the realm of half-waked spirit-shades.

'Tis but a picture, mirrored thus by me?

The Other Philia:
Yet one that lives and keeps its hold on life
So long as thou dost keep within thyself
An outlived self which thou indeed canst stun
But which as yet thou canst not overthrow.
Johannes, thine awakening is but false
Until thou shalt thyself set free the shade
Whom thine offence doth grant a life bewitched.

What thanks I owe this spirit, who brings truth
Into my soul. — I needs must follow her.

Curtain falls slowly, while ‘the Other Philia’ and Johannes remain quietly standing
The Soul's Awakening

Last Modified: 22-Jun-2024
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