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The Circle of Mystery Streams

Karmic Groups in the Anthroposophical Society and Movement

September 2023
More details
  • Publisher
    Wynstones Press
  • Published
    5th September 2023
  • ISBN 9783935492010
  • Language English
  • Pages 570 pp.
  • Size 6.25" x 9"

During summer 1924, Rudolf Steiner began his lectures on karmic relationships by tackling the question of karmic predispositions that lead people into the Anthroposophical Society and movement. Ever since, when discussing the karmic groups connected to modern spiritual science, the focus has been predominantly on two streams— “Aristotelian” and “Platonist.” However, it is far less understood that, to Rudolf Steiner, his lectures on karma in 1924 were incomplete. In the final presentation of the series, he offered clear hints on the intended direction of future elaborations.

this book presents for the first time the various karmic groups in the Anthroposophical Society and movement, as laid out in Steiner’s lectures and written works. This approach takes us beyond the duality of Aristotelians and Platonists toward a fourfold picture, adding the two streams of the “Novalis-souls” and “Rosicrucians,” equal to the other two.

Aristotelians and Platonists represent, foremost, the dimension of insight in Anthroposophy, whereas the Novalis-souls and Rosicrucians represent the dimension of life—the moral, social, and world-changing side of Anthroposophy. By considering all four groups, we gain a full picture of the anthroposophic "circle of mystery streams"—karmic groups that are truly capable of forming a spiritual home for everyone connected with Anthroposophy.

A review from the first German edition, originally published in Motief, Journal of the Dutch Anthroposophical Society, December 2006.

The Circle of Mystery Streams

We have come from many directions

In the NRC [a Dutch daily newspaper] of 22 June 2006 I read a report about the Aymara Indians in the Andes, in southern Bolivia, who imagine the future behind their backs and perceive the past in front of them. Not a bad point of view, if you consider that you can only recognize what is present in yourself. You look at what is coming towards you and you can know it because you already know it 'in essence'. The new is the unexpected, – something comes over you or happens without you having imagined or planned it. The future gives you a kick in the back and sometimes the final push you need to start something new or to take a certain step.

Most of the time you cannot 'foresee' what will happen. This happened to me once when I enthusiastically told about a book I had read during the summer holidays. If I had known in advance that as a result of this conversation I would be asked to write something about the contents of the book in 'Motief', I probably wouldn't have said anything about it. But then again, as the saying goes, "When the heart is full, the mouth is full.

I had already bought the book at the beginning of the year. It is so extensive (582 pages) that I had to wait until I had time to read it. On a mountain top, under a parasol, I read it for many days – and with pleasure. It took me many walks to let the 'food' sink in and digest it. The reason why I hesitate to write about this book is that it deals with a subject that is very close to my heart. It touches a great longing – 'imagine it could be possible again' – and while the knowledge is still working within me, I would rather keep the subject to myself, so that it can mature undisturbed.

The book deals with the various groups that can be identified within and outside the anthroposophical society and movement. The title is The Circle of Mystery Streams, the author is Malte Diekmann, and the subtitle is The Karmic Groups in the Anthroposophical Society and Movement.

It is not a dry treatise, but a heartwarming life's work. Warm, because Diekmann holds Rudolf Steiner's work in high esteem and treats it with love. But other authors who have written on this subject, such as Hans-Peter van Manen, are also mentioned with respect in the study and their value is appreciated. My enthusiasm arose from the expansion that Diekmann shows in the possibilities of living out of Anthroposophy.

One is always amazed at how different people are addressed by Rudolf Steiner's work, but above all at the different ways in which it is implemented and understood in life. The ideas of what is right and what is not are moving, and this suddenly brings many more people into focus who are also involved with anthroposophy in their own way.

Rudolf Steiner had already pointed out in the summer of 1924 that there are different currents. He had not yet finished dealing with the subject, and the moment he picked it up again on September 28, he could not finish it. He wanted to make a start that evening with the description of the other Michael current. In the 20 minutes in which he spoke, he made enough messages to continue research. And so did a number of people, including Ita Wegman and H. P. van Manen.

New rooms
What is surprising and at the same time courageous about Diekanns work is that it opens up new spaces. In addition to the Aristotelians (including the group of Alexandrians) and Platonists, he also places two large groups. One group is called the Novalis souls and the other the Rosicrucians. Thus four large currents are now visible, which since the Christmas Conference in 1923 have been able to carry the common spiritual goods together into the future. Hiram-Lazarus-Christian Rosenkreutz is the leader of the Rosicrucian stream, Elias-Johannes-Raffael-Novalis, the leader of the Novalis souls.

Diekmann describes all four currents in detail, – their emergence, what they have achieved in history, and where they stand now. In the chapter on the cooperation of the four currents, one begins to suspect what possibilities could arise if a cooperation were to succeed. They form two polar pairs. The Aristotelians, together with the Platonists, feel connected with the development of human intelligence and follow the paths of Michael. The Novalis souls and Rosicrucians, who work on moral development, live in an intimate relationship with the Christ Being. People who have their home in the latter group learn from life and undergo their training in life. The Aristotelians and Platonists have the stronger affinity to thinking.

The other polarity, which becomes apparent through the description, is the contrast between the more female tuned souls of the Platonists and Novalis souls and the more male tuned souls of the Aristotelians and Rosicrucians. Another characterization is that the Platonic mystery stream is inspired by the spirit being of Natura and seeks the feminine more outside in the ethereal world that surrounds man. In contrast, the Novalis current, inspired by the spirit being of Sophia, seeks the feminine within. The masculine gesture of the Aristotelians gives form to the thinking that arises in the soul, while the Rosicrucians are more oriented towards outward action. The double polarity means that each current needs the other in order for the spirit to blossom fully.

If you now think that it would be easy to assign each person a place in a certain current, you are mistaken. Diekmann has taken a very thorough and differentiated approach, bringing nuances next to and sometimes into the four currents, by drawing attention to the currents of the Grailkeepers and the Arthurian Knights, or what you might call the Cain and Abel currents; also by distinguishing between young and old souls. He also considers the connections of the Mystery streams with each other, their relationship to nature, the elemental beings, the cosmos and the etheric world, the planets and initiation paths, as well as the relationship of the currents to the foundation stone.

Finally, he directs attention to the various people working around Steiner: the first board members, the leaders of the various Sections and other leading co-workers. He briefly describes their biographies and looks at the current of which they are representatives. By also treating the connections of the different currents to art, science and religion, this leads to surprising insights and findings.

By describing Diekmann's nature, interests and view of the world, it becomes clearer to me why people from another current are so incomprehensible or irritating, which does not mean that they are not right from their point of view. One person starts out by immediately putting up a large edifice of thought, with the subject matter well supported by humanistic insights everywhere, while the other is more likely to enjoy a colourful description full of associations. By becoming aware of the 'glasses' of your own current in which you feel at home, you create space for others. Due to the care Malte Diekmann has taken, it is not possible to attach labels. A broad panorama unfolds in which many people who feel inspired by anthroposophy are given the right to their own place.

Have you ever bought a used book? I have, and I have been surprised at times by what was hidden between the pages, for example a dried flower or leaf. In this book – it is not a second-hand book – I discovered a plant. You see a plant where it is clear that the root, the leaf, the flower cannot develop without each other. Such a plant needs earth, water, air, light and warmth just like a normal plant. This is a new description of the germ that Anthroposophy represents, with the promising possibility that this ethereal plant can grow and blossom. The space in which this becomes possible unfolds between people who develop attention for each other, and thereby perceive where they can use their own abilities in such a way that the other person comes to himself and his right.

Marijke Steenbruggen


Insight into karma as the basis for a new mystery culture

Chapter 1
Aristotelians and Platonists
Aristotelianism and the challenge to develop conceptual thinking
• Aristotle and Alexander
• From Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas and Rudolf Steiner
• Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman
Platonism and the task of developing thinking in images
• The individual nature of Plato
• The School of Chartres
• Goethe
More on the Aristotelian and Platonic mystery streams

Chapter 2
Novalis souls and Rosicrucians
Rudolf Steiner’s Last Address as a key giving greater insight into karma
Elias-John the Baptist and Hiram-Lazarus
Raphael-Novalis and Christian Rosenkreuz
More on the Novalis-soul and Rosicrucian streams

Chapter 3
Four mystery streams working together
• Conceptual clarification and overview
Servants of Michael and Christ Seekers
Cainite and Abelian, ‘male’ and ‘female’ types of soul
Old and young souls, souls tired of Christianity and those who are longing for it
Guardians of the Grail and Arthurian knights

Chapter 4
The mystery streams as they relate to nature, cosmos and etheric world
The four elements and the mystery streams
The ‘attitude plant’ of anthroposophy and how it relates to the mystery streams
The four seasons and how the spirits relate to the mystery streams
Anthroposophy’s founts of life and the mystery streams

Chapter 5
The mystery streams’ relationship to the human body, soul and spirit
• The significance of diagrammatic presentations, incidental remark on method
The functions and qualities of the human soul in relation to the four mystery streams
The bodily foundations and spiritual origins of soul functions and their relationship to the four mystery streams
The four mystery streams as they relate to the Foundation Stone and the Foundation Stone Meditation
More on the human organization in body, soul and spirit and its relationship to the four mystery streams

Chapter 6
How the mystery streams relate to the path of initiation and to the planetary spheres
Path of initiation and planetary spheres
Microcosmic and macrocosmic mystery streams

Chapter 7
How the mystery streams relate to science, art and religion
Science, art and religion
How the mystery streams reveal themselves in science, art and religion
The four mystery streams in science, art and religion

Chapter 8
Movements and individuals who shaped the cultural life and how they relate to the four mystery streams
• Brief introduction
The medieval orders
The three great artists of the Renaissance
The philosophers of German idealism

Chapter 9
Members of the Anthroposophical Society and movement in the circle of the mystery streams
Friends and collaborators of Rudolf Steiner
Council of the Anthroposophical Society and Section leaders
Summing up and looking ahead

Translator’s postface

Malte Diekmann

Malte Diekmann (b. 1954) studied philosophy and German in Hamburg before working in drug therapy. In 1985, together with Hans-Willi Haub and other interested people, he founded the Sammatzer Arbeits- und Lebensgemeinschaft (Sammatzer working and living community) in the small Wendland village of Sammatz, southeast of Lüneburg, and as its intellectual core the Academy in Michaelshof and its associated publishing house there. Since then, Diekmann has worked as a lecturer, author and, since 1998, as a freelance photographer.