Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), born in Kraljevic, Austro-Hungary, was A brilliant scientist and philosopher, Steiner made original
the founder of a theosophical splinter group, the Anthroposophical
contributions in many fields. (He is perhaps best remembered as the
founder of the Waldorf educational system.) He elaborated theosophical
teachings about devas (angels) in one of the most complex systems
of such beings in occult literature.
Steiner conceived of humankind as a microcosm within the
macrocosm of universe, whose secrets could be revealed by exploring
the Akashic records, a kind of library in the nonphysical realms. He
claimed that much of what he taught came directly from these
records. According to his interpretation of human evolution,
humankind lost its original spiritual and supersensible capabilities in
its descent to the “material plane.” Steiner developed his own ideas of
reincarnation and karma, according to which some spiritual beings
(angelic), who exist in higher planes, interact continuously with
human beings and encourage their advancement toward spiritual consciousness,
while others (demonic), who are the personification of
evil, wish people to remain anchored to a materialistic world.
Steiner took the traditional hierarchy of choirs originally laid out
by the early sixth-century theologian Dionysius the Areopagite and
adapted it to his theosophical schema. Traditionally, the angels are
arranged into nine choirs, which are grouped in three hierarchies.
Steiner redesignated them as follows:
I. First hierarchy
1. Seraphim Spirits of love
2. Cherubim Spirits of the harmonies
3. Thrones Spirits of will
II. Second hierarchy
4. Dominations Spirits of wisdom
5. Virtues Spirits of movement
6. Powers Spirits of form
III. Third hierarchy
7. Principalities Spirits of personality or time
8. Archangels Fire spirits
9. Angels Sons of life or of twilight
In Steiner’s scheme the work of the first hierarchy is difficult for
ordinary humans to comprehend. The angelic beings at this level
extend their very substance into the universe in order to provide the
substratum for this ordered cosmos. Put another way, they are responsible
for transforming spiritual light into the hard substance of this reality.
The second hierarchy is similarly involved in the creation of the
cosmos, forming the substance provided by the first hierarchy into the
recognizable patterns of our world. While none of these tasks are
“angelic” in the traditional sense, they accord well with the theosophical
tradition, which pictures the devas as being primarily concerned
with the creation of forms.
In the third hierarchy, we finally find intelligences concerned
with the development and awakening of humanity. Although not all
angels work directly with human beings, there is an angel assigned to
each person, the intelligence we traditionally call a guardian angel.
Unlike the classical guardian angel, however, Steiner’s angels are primarily
concerned with the individual’s spiritual growth, which may or
may not involve “protection” in the usual sense. They attempt daily to
guide us through our thoughts, moods, intuitions, and inspirations.
Steiner taught that we can help our guardian angels perform their
tasks by being aware of them and of their guidance.
One of Steiner’s more interesting ideas involves the notion of
angels who guide communities. Every institution from marriages to
large professional associations has an indwelling angel uniting the
consciousness of its members. The work of these group angels blends
into the work of the archangels, whose job it is to guide a nation, a
people, or a language, which in turn blends into the work of the principalities,
who guide the development of humanity as a whole. Steiner
also asserted that some angels have stepped out of the line of spiritual
evolution to play roles as adversaries so that developing humanity
would have obstacles to overcome. These fallen angels are either
Ahrimanic (too dark) or Luciferic (too light).
Although work on the whole of humanity takes place at the level
of the principalities, these intelligences draw upon the diverse qualities
of seven specific archangels in their work to elevate humanity.
According to Steiner, Michael took over from Gabriel in 1879 and
will be the driving force for human development until the end of the
second century of the next millennium. Michael’s task during this
cycle is to free humanity from the overmaterialistic culture that has
been developing for centuries, and Steiner viewed his own mission as
contributing to Michael’s work.