evil ones

Mankind’s two most evident opponents, according to Steiner, are the arch-demons Lucifer and Ahriman. [See "Lucifer" and "Ahriman".] These two evil spirits have long sought to harm humanity. So, for instance, "If, during the old Lemurian epoch [i.e., while we lived on the ancient continent of Lemuria], the first Christ-Event had not taken place [i.e., if the Sun God, Christ, had not protected us], Lucifer and Ahriman would have been able to bring about disaster to the whole of humanity.” — Rudolf Steiner, "Pre-Earthly Deeds of Christ" (Steiner Book Centre, 1976), GA 152.

But, according to Steiner, there are other evil beings who are also busy, striving to work woe. 

Here are some revealing quotations. I have emphasized some key terms, showing them in bold type. 

"[Steiner said] that the working of Sorat, the two-horned beast described in chapter 13 of the Apocalypse, was connected to the number 666 and therefore, we could expect an intensification of his influence around the year 1998. Sorat's influence is not to be confused with the war of all against all, or with the incarnation of Ahriman, an event projected to take place in the early part of the third millennium. For a complete discussion of the nature and timing of these events, as well as a clear distinction between the three adversaries of human evolution — Lucifer, Ahriman, and the Asuras — the reader should refer to three outstanding articles by Hans-Werner Schroeder which appeared in the Newsletter of the Anthroposophical Society in America, Summer 1979, Spring 1980, and Summer 1980. Many questions that might arise in reading these lectures will find their answer there." — James H. Hindes, Introduction to Rudolf Steiner's READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993).


"Asuras are spirits of the very greatest egoism who remained behind during Saturn evolution. They want to condense matter and compress it ever more so that it can't be spiritualized and brought back to its original condition. They're the dregs of the planetary evolution that goes form Saturn to Vulcan. The asuras inhabit the moon and from there they work on the men whom they want to drag down into the eighth sphere and thereby tear away from progressive evolution and its goal — the Christ. All those who strive towards the eighth sphere will eventually live on a moon." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266. For information on the Eighth Sphere, see the notes at the end of this page.

"The physical human eye is similar to a camera, for, as with the camera, there appears within it a picture of the surrounding world. Only when one abstracts from the physical eye everything that is not to be found in the camera, does one discover what is the specific nature of the physical eye. So too one must abstract from the entire physical body everything that is not purely physical: only then does one have what in occultism is called the physical body. In itself it can neither live, think nor feel. There then remains a very wisely ordered, extremely complicated automaton, a purely physical apparatus. This, alone, was all there was of human existence at the Old Saturn stage. At that time the eyes were present only as little cameras. What was produced as [a] picture of the surrounding world came to the consciousness of a Deva being. In the middle of the Saturn evolution the so-called Asuras (the Archai) were sufficiently advanced to make use of the apparatus. At that time they were at the human stage. They made use of the automata and the pictures they produced. The Asuras themselves were not within the apparatus but outside and only made use of the pictures as we make use of photographic apparatus in order to take pictures of a landscape. Thus the physical body of man was at that time an architectural structure of a physical apparatus operated from outside. This is the first stage of human existence." — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 12, GA 93a.

A Buddhist image of Asuras waging war on the gods.

"Towards the end of the Atlantean epoch, the etheric body corresponding to the head came right into the physical head and gradually brought about self-consciousness in the physical body. Fundamentally speaking, man is still working at this unconscious transformation of the physical body, at the development of the consciousness soul. And in the age now approaching, those spiritual Beings known as the Asuras (see Note 1) will creep into the consciousness soul and therewith into the human ‘I’ or ego — for the ‘I’ lights up in the consciousness soul. The Asuras will generate evil with a far mightier force than was wielded by the Satanic powers in the Atlantean epoch or by the Luciferic Spirits in the Lemurian epoch.

"... Man does not as yet entirely base his life on the principle that his true being descends from the animal. But this view of existence will inevitably arise, with the result that men will also live like animals, will sink into animal impulses, animal passions. And in many things that need not be further characterized here, many things that in the great cities come to expression in orgies of dissolute sensuality, we can already perceive the lurid, hellish glare of the Spirits we call the Asuras." — Rudolf Steiner, THE DEED OF CHRIST AND THE OPPOSING SPIRITUAL POWERS (Steiner Book Centre, 1954), lecture 2, GA 107.

"Note 1:
The Asuras are retarded Beings of the Hierarchy of the Archai (Spirits of Personality). They are Beings who instead of furthering man's progress to independence, lure him into gross egoism. In the negative sense they now bear the name originally pertaining to the entire Hierarchy. C.S.P." [Sic. This Note appears in the text; I did not add it. — R.R.]

"Asuras [are] retarded spiritual beings belonging to the hierarchy of the archai ... The lower asuras are the spirits of temptation who penetrate and exacerbate the impulses of Lucifer and Ahriman ... [They] try to lure us into the belief that the physical world is the only reality...." — Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A - Z [Sophia Books, 2011], pp. 10-11.


"Sorat has meant 'Demon of the Sun' since ancient times. Every star has its good spirit — its intelligence — and its evil spirit — its demon. The adversary of the good powers of the sun is called Sorat. Christ was always the representative of the sun, namely, the intelligence of the Sun. Sorat is, then, the adversary of Christ Jesus." — Rudolf Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), part 1, lecture 1, GA 104a.

"Zarathustra also referred to the Christ being, who has been working in the central regions of the earth from the event of Golgotha onward. After working on the earth from the sun in earlier times, he has united with the planet earth. It is the power of Christ that has descended from the sun and retrieved the useful part of earthly humanity, uniting it with the sun again. But he has an adversary — every such being has an adversary. Christ is the good spirit, the intelligence of the sun; the adversary is the demon of the sun. Certain forces that are constantly working on the human astral body come forth from the demon of the sun. This demon of the sun is the opponent of the Christ spirit and is called Sorat. Earlier, in cabalistic sections of occultism, the custom of writing letters with numbers prevailed. The letters of the name Sorat, the demon of the sun, have the value 666. In the picture found at Rev. 13:11 – 18 the sun demon becomes visible.

"It has two horns like a lamb. The writer of the Apocalypse describes the sign of the beast. Already at the beginning of the Apocalypse he clearly stated he was describing everything in signs and then adds: Wisdom is necessary in order to solve this riddle. In this way, the number of the beast has been explained in occult schools by real experts who do not explain it materialistically. We hear how the worst and coarsest elements are thrown out and how the noblest, spiritualized portion of humanity remains united with the sun. The newly spiritualized human body can then again be a temple for the soul." — Ibid., part 2, lecture 10.

"In the age when the sixth seal is broken the 'people of twelve' will appear. The salvation of the 'great whore of Babylon' will also occur in the sixth age. In this sixth age the earth will have repeated the Saturn, Sun, and Moon stages, as well as the earth condition itself and Jupiter-Earth. On Venus-Earth the earth will finally have the five rounds behind it. Then the sixth state will have come. Nevertheless, the Vulcan state for the chosen will not be present yet. For this reason we read ['And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come ...'] '... five are fallen ...' and the remnant that has maintained itself: '... one is ...' and the seventh: 'the other has not yet come.' (Rev. 17:10) We see how we again find the messages of the writer of the Apocalypse in Theosophy.

"But those who have proven themselves to be immature in the age of Venus-Earth, who have placed themselves under the rulership of Sorat, must now isolate themselves on a special sphere of earth while the other seven proceed downward and again upward. Thus the colony of Sorat falls away. The black magicians inhabit this eighth sphere, which goes to the left and away, and the beast gives a home to all that thus falls away: that is the eighth state. In this way we can find all the teachings of Theosophy in the Apocalypse.

"The more humanity advances, the more energy is necessary in order to spiritualize those who have been left behind. For this reason those who are the most deeply initiated, Moses and Elijah, are called. Powerful forces are needed. Because they were already deeply initiated, they will be able in that distant future to stand so high that they will be able to work in a very special way. However, karma is a law to which all are subject; therefore, those who were initiated before the event of Golgotha must make up for the following.

"The three and a half days required for initiation in ancient times were lost days in the initiates' development. Initiates had to leave their bodies during these three and a half days. Therefore, the I could not work on the transformation of its physical body, its etheric body, and its astral body. For this reason, in the future they must leave their physical body to the external world for three and a half days. Hence, we read, 'For three days and a half ... gaze at their dead bodies.' (Rev. 11:9) Even the deeds that are sacrifices for humanity must find their cosmic compensation." — Ibid., part 2, lecture 12.

"This being is known as Sorat, the Sun Demon and the most powerful opponent to Christ Jesus in the universe. Sorat rises every 666 years to deceive humanity. Now that in 1998 three times 666 years have run their course since the birth of Christ, it will aim its wrath at humanity again. Sorat will do everything in its power to obliterate humanity’s connection with the spiritual world and tempt humanity to deny Christ." — Rudolf Steiner, THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND THE WORK OF THE PRIEST (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), Introduction by René Querido, p. 8. 

"Before us lies the time of the third number 666: 1998. At the end of this century the time will come when Sorat will once again raise his head most strongly out of the waves of evolution to become the adversary of that appearance of Christ which those who have been prepared for it will already experience during the first half of the twentieth century when the Etheric Chris becomes visible. Only two thirds of the century will have still to run before Sorat once again raises his head most mightily." — Ibid., p. 117.


Steiner's use of the term "the Devil" can be somewhat confusing. By and large, he identified Lucifer as the Devil — and he distinguished the Devil from Satan, whom he identified as Ahriman. Sometimes, however, Steiner used the term "devil" to apply, somewhat loosely, to both Lucifer and Ahriman. Lucifer is, then, the light devil ("Lucifer" means "light bringer" in Latin) while Ahriman is the dark devil. Here are a few relevant passages.

The rose cross.
[R. R., 2009.]

"Yet a step higher is when we consciously find ourselves in the higher spheres. We feel ourselves there not as an 'I' but entirely selfless. Then the following temptation approaches: the devil shows us the world which then reveals a certain splendor. The devil says, 'Behold, there lies the world. It is to be yours, if you attach yourself to me.' ... In order to withstand the temptation of the devil, one should meditate on the rose cross." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007), pp. 394-395. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on image on p. 395, where the cross is shown solid black.]

Both Lucifer and Ahriman are devils, and they jointly rule an evil sphere — what we might call Hell. Steiner sometimes referred to that dreadful place as the Eighth Sphere. Souls that enter it are lost, at least for the present.

"It would be the richest prize for Lucifer and Ahriman if they could ever succeed in capturing a whole soul for themselves; for thereby such a soul would disappear into the Eight Sphere and be lost from Earth-evolution. The greatest victory for Lucifer and Ahriman would be if one day they could claim that countless numbers of the dead had passed into their sphere ... This devilish plan — for here we have indeed to do with the devil — was put into effect by Lucifer and Ahriman when it had occurred to occultists to endeavor to accomplish something through mediumship. Lucifer and Ahriman inspired the mediums ... Lucifer and Ahriman could then lay hold of their souls ... The occultists were alarmed when they saw the course things were taking and they took counsel among themselves as to how to steer away from it ... Now, after the plan had been seen through and the occultists on the Earth no longer lent their hands to it, Lucifer and Ahriman were obliged to pursue their aim in a different way. [I]t was necessary that men’s attention should be focused entirely on material things ... [H]uman thinking can certainly be perverted if materialism is made occult. The best way of doing this is to present the Sphere that had to be created as a counterweight of the Eighth Sphere as the Eighth Sphere itself!" — Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY AND ITS RELATION TO MODERN CULTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), pp. 92-93.

Here is a statement Steiner made about an author who failed to endorse Steiner's teachings. In this instance, Steiner seems to identify the Devil with Ahriman or Mammon (see below), leaving Lucifer out of the picture (although we are left to sort things out for ourselves). Steiner argues that the Devil is necessary for us; the Devil's works are needed in our current stage of evolution. This is one of Steiner's basic concepts, that good can be created out of evil, that even the machinations of the Devil can be made to serve the purposes of the good gods, ultimately. But while good may be redeemed from evil, evil remains evil — it is the obverse of good, it is error that, if unredeemed, leads to evolutionary ruin.

(Some readers will find disturbing sexism in this passage. Steiner meant his words to affirm the contribution of what he called the female principle, but they may strike us today as offensive.)

"Individuals like this, who still do not want to take up anthroposophy, will always look for a way to apologize for their statements. Ricarda Huch does feel that people must get to know the devil as someone who is very real; but she immediately says, as a kind of apology, that one should not, of course, imagine the devil to be walking around in the street with horns and a tail. Oh, but he does walk around! ... Modern abstract thinking immediately needs an apology, even if someone knows instinctively what is most urgently needed. But there is a good and real instinct for the present time behind this cry for the devil. People should not simply grow blindly, as if asleep, into what iron necessity demands of them in the immediate future, which is to use the messengers of the devil in our work in laboratories, workshops, banks and everywhere else. They have to use them so that civilization may progress; but they must know the devil, they must know that the keys which are used, say, to unlock the vaults have the devil's power in them. Ricarda Huch knows this instinctively, and people need to know it, for only knowledge will take us into the future in the right way. It is of immense importance that there are people who, out of instinct, point to the need which exists to know the devil and not walk past him fast asleep, for he is getting more and more powerful.

"Perhaps there is something else that is characteristic — I mention it only in passing: In Paradise, too, it was a woman who instinctively allowed the functions of the devil to enter into Paradise. I think it is not much to the credit of men in our civilization that they are still calling this kind of thing superstition and refuse to have anything to do with it, once again leaving it to a woman. It may indeed be characteristic that a woman, Ricarda Huch, is calling for the devil, just as once in Paradise it was Eve who let in the devil. This merely as a passing comment." — Rudolf steiner, FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), lecture 4, GA 177.


Mammon is Beelzebub or Ahriman, aka Satan. To keep matters straight: 

"For Rudolf Steiner, Ahriman was synonymous with the biblical Satan — although distinct from Lucifer, whom he relates to the being referred to as 'the devil'. However, Steiner also spoke in some detail about another spiritual entity, ‘an opposing principle to the Lamb [Christ]’, that he called the ‘Sun-Demon’ or 'Sorath’ and relates to the apocalyptic number 666. (See Rudolf Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN, lecture 11.)" — Sevak Gulbekian, introduction to Rudolf Steiner, THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2006), pp. viii-ix.

Mammon arrived in human affairs at the same time as Michael, 

or so Steiner taught. 

Here you see, in schematic form, the beginning of 

the Archangel Michael's reign. 

The horizontal line divides the astral plane (above) 

from the physical world (below). 

The arc from the left represents the period 

when Gabriel oversaw our affairs. 

Gabriel's reign ended in 1879. 

The arc to the right is Michael's reign, beginning in that year. 

Trouble, though: 

Mammon poked his snout in at about the same time.

[R. R. sketch, 2009, based on one by Steiner.

See "Prehistory 101".]

"[I]n November of the year 1879 there occurred on the astral plane something very similar to a birth ... The rulership of Gabriel was replaced by another archangel, under whose leadership we now stand, the archangel Michael. He is the radiant sun that esoteric wisdom lets shine forth on a small band of people ... The radiant leadership of Michael will again be replaced by a dark, horrible age that will begin around the year 2400. Already today simultaneously with Michael a dark god has entered into his rulership: the god Mammon.

"For esotericism, Mammon is not only the god of money. He is much more the leader of all vile black powers. And his hordes attack not only human souls, but also the physical bodies of humans in order to gnaw away at them and ruin them. People speak of bacteria a lot more today not because they know more about them, but because bacteria have taken on a very special form today. And in the future they will get the upper hand in a terrifying way. When that black age approaches, then fraternal war will rage in a gruesome way, and poor human bodies will waste away, terribly afflicted by diseases and plagues. The stigma of sin will be impressed on human bodies visible to everyone." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007), pp. 232-233. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on b&w image on p. 232.] In case the forgoing left any doubt, here's a clarification on one point: "Mammon, the spirit of hindrances and darkness, has countless helpers who incarnate as bacteria." — Ibid., p. 208.

The small band to whom Michael radiates esoteric wisdom is, of course, the small group to whom Steiner delivered "esoteric lessons": initiated Anthroposophists.

"Many people think that they're working for the good of mankind from morn till eve, but this is questionable. A clairvoyant can see that efforts coming from materialistic thinking have the wrong effect, and it may lie in some people's karma that they should wait until they can do certain things. Then a higher being can whisper such a task in his ear, so that it's not induced by outer circumstances. Life is a destructive process for someone who only devotes himself to outer sense impressions. A meditating esoteric doesn't let his life be determined by outer circumstances as much. One who makes repeated meditational efforts isn't exposed to astral confusions at night and makes himself ready to receive the instructions of spiritual beings. And it's very necessary that we be instructed in this way. For since 1879 we've entered a new stage of human evolution. Gabriel worked on the development of a new organ in man's brain by regulating human births (1525–1879). A 16th century man would not have understood our present theosophy. It's up to archangel Michael to simulate men to use their newly acquired organ, that degenerates if a man doesn't use it. Such a man comes under the influence of Michael's opponent, Mammon or Beelzebub. This is the God of hindrances, who wants to prevent men from making progress. The bacterial that arise under his influence can give rise to terrible epidemics and strange nervous diseases; children could be born with a ruined nervous system." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF THE ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266. 

"What is the meaning of this parable of the unjust steward? The steward reflected: If I must leave my post I must gain the affection of the people. He realized that one cannot serve ‘two masters’. Christ said to those around Him: ‘You too must realize that you cannot serve two masters; the one who is now to enter the hearts of men as God, and the one hitherto proclaimed by the Scribes and the interpreters of the books of the Prophets. You cannot serve the God who is to draw into your souls as the Christ-principle and give a mighty impetus to the evolution of humanity, and the other God who would hinder this evolution.’ Everything that was right and proper in a bygone age becomes a hindrance if carried over into a later stage of evolution. In a certain sense the process of evolution itself is based upon this principle. The Powers which direct the ‘hindrances’ were called at that time by a technical expression: Mammon. ‘You cannot serve the God who will progress, and Mammon, the God of Hindrances. Think of the steward who, as a child of the world, realized that one cannot serve two masters, not even with the help of Mammon. So too should you perceive, in striving to become children of light, that you cannot serve two masters!’ (Cp. Luke XVI, 11–13.)

"Those living in the present age must also realize that no reconciliation is possible between the God Mammon in our time — between the modern ‘scribes’ and scientific pundits — and the direction of thought that must provide human beings to-day with the nourishment they need. This is spoken in a truly Christian sense. Clothed in current language, what Christ Jesus wished to bring home to those around Him in the parable of the unjust steward was that no man can serve two masters." — Rudolf Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF LUKE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 9, 114.

"If Lucifer attacks human beings on his own, spiritual effort will overcome him. And if Lucifer and Ahriman attack together from inside the human being, spiritual means will again lead to victory. If, however, Ahriman comes on his own, he anchors his powers in the material processes  of earth evolution and then he cannot be entirely removed from the scene. Ahriman, Mephistopheles, Mammon — these terms mean the same — is to be found in money, in everything connected with our natural egotism on Earth." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995) p. 244.






The spirits who wish us ill are legion. We create some of these through our own errors. Some attack us from within and some attack us from without. Sometimes Steiner indicated that these spirits are our enemies, representing pure evil; sometimes he indicated that at least some of these spirits actually work for our good, ultimately. The evil gods may serve the good gods, ultimately, whether or not they intend to do so.

Here are a few instances.

"There are...terrible and corrupt demonic beings. All demons that are born of lying [i.e., spirits created by untruthfulness] work in such a way as to throw man back in his development [i.e., human evolution is impeded or even reversed]; and because owing to the lies of eminent figures in world-history demons who grow into very powerful beings are all the time being created, we hear of the 'Spirits of Hindrance', 'Spirits of Obstruction.' In this sense Faust says to Mephistopheles [i.e., Ahriman]: 'Thou art the Father of all hindrances!'” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 6, GA 99.

"All the materialistic thought of our time comes from the Spirits who hinder, who hold progress back ... [Such thinking] comes from these Spirits of Hindrance ... It deflects men from their upward course towards the vision of the spiritual." — Rudolf Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), lecture 4, GA 129.

"In November 1879 Michael conquered the spirit of hindrances, Mammon, on the astral plane. The battle must still be fought out on the physical plane. Michael will fight with the spirit of darkness for another 400 years." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF THE ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266.

"I have also spoken of the profoundly significant battle which took place in the spiritual regions of the world between the early 1840s and the autumn of 1879. This was one of the battles which occur repeatedly in world and human evolution and are customarily represented by the image of Michael or St George fighting the dragon. Michael won one such victory over the dragon on behalf of the spiritual worlds in 1879. At that time the spirits of darkness who worked against the Michaelic impulses were cast down from the spiritual realm into the human realms. As I said, from that time onwards they have been active in the feeling, will and mind impulses of human beings. Present-day events can therefore only be understood if one turns the inner eye to the spiritual powers which are now moving among us." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), lecture 13, GA 177.

“Then follows the activity of the ‘Spirits of Darkness,’ which are also called 'Spirits of Personality’ or of 'Self-hood’ (Egoism). At this stage [i.e., during a former period described by Steiner] they have [i.e., had] a consciousness similar to the present human earthly consciousness. They inhabit[ed] the formed human material body [of that period] as 'souls’ in a way similar to that in which the human soul inhabits its body today. They implant[ed] a kind of sensory organs in the body, which are the germs of the sensory organs which later develop in the human body in the course of the development of earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11.

"[I]t is so necessary for thoughts that are fitting for our age to be spread about. Thought will have to be recognized as a real soul force rather than the pitiable abstraction which modern times have turned it into [i.e., the Anthroposophical way of thinking, imaginative and 'clairvoyant,' is greatly superior to cold, intellectual, abstract thinking] ... [N]ow the time has come when what is conscious [i.e., what is truly known through Anthroposophy, etc.] must come more and more to the fore as a real force, and that is why in our time the spirits of opposition, the spirits of darkness are rushing to the attack...." — Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS AND THE MYSTERY OF THE HUMAN DOUBLE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 113.

"Now on each planet there are also Spirits who have remained behind in evolution, they have remained stationary and not wished to progress. You will recognise a law from this: If the most outstanding fall and commit the 'great sin' of not advancing with evolution, then they become the very worst of all. The noble sense of liberty has been reversed into wickedness, into its opposite. Those are the Spirits of Temptation, and they must be taken gravely into account; they lead to the evil side of egoism, even today they are still in our environment, these evil Spirits of Saturn. All that is bad draws its power from these Spirits." — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 9, GA 99.

"The region of destructive spirits into which a man may come, is disclosed most clearly of all if a soul is observed at the moment of passing through the gate of death. Then these spiritual beings swirl forward in their hosts; nor is this surprising, for they are the spirits of destruction. To work at the destruction of the physical organism is their regular function ... Men who have attained spiritual understanding keep these beings at bay. But these beings have a great deal of power over souls whose thinking is materialistic, who acquire no understanding of the spiritual world. Souls who disdain any attempt to acquire knowledge of the spiritual world have a great deal to suffer...." — Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 10, GA 254.

“Everything in the realm of the sun finds fulfilment and expression according to its inner worth, its intrinsic nature, and it is therefore impossible for the good not to take effect in proportion to its power of goodness and the evil in proportion to its power of evil.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), lecture 10, GA 236. 

“People will have to know all the forces that the soul must summon up in order to overcome the powers of evil, or to transform them into good impulses ... [D]uring our own epoch, the 5th post-Atlantean epoch, people will have to struggle with evil ... [T]he impulses that lead to evil will send their influences into the world in an immense, gigantic form ... This will take place above all during the 5th epoch [i.e., the present], when the exploitation of electric forces, which will assume quite different dimensions from those which they have assumed so far, will enable man to spread evil over the earth, and evil will invade the earth by coming in an immediate way out of the forces of electricity.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Overcoming of Evil” (ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, Vol. 16, No. 7/8), GA 273.

“A bad man...whose moral sensibility is very little developed, will carry with him into sleep no...pangs of conscience ... [H]e will have, spiritually speaking, an open ear for the whisperings of Ahriman who makes evil appear good. Hence the quiet and contented sleep of the criminal! ... The enticement to evil to which man is exposed during sleep is, in truth, exceedingly great, and it can easily happen that in the morning he brings over with him from sleep terrible demonic forces of temptation ... There is thus abundant possibility for man to fall a victim to Ahriman during the time of sleep ... [I]t has gradually come about that men are so gravely exposed during sleep to the seductions of demonic powers, which make evil appear good ... The fact is, we are living today in a time that is bringing us to a certain crisis in evolution. It behooves men to arm themselves against the powers of evil that approach them when they fall asleep.” — Rudolf Steiner, MAN'S LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Health Research, 1960), lecture 4, GA 218.

“[T]he task of this fifth post-Atlantean epoch is quite specially arduous, and many temptations lie ahead. And as the powers of evil make their appearance in gradual stages, men are naturally much more inclined to give way to them in all realms instead of battling to place what appears as evil in the service of the rightful course of world-development. This, nevertheless, is what has to come about — up to a certain point evil must be turned to good ends. Failing that, we shall not be able to go forward into the sixth post-Atlantean epoch, which will have a quite different task. Its task will be to enable men, while still connected with the earth, to have the spiritual world continually in view and to live in accordance with spiritual impulses. It is precisely in connection with the task of opposing evil during our own epoch that a certain darkening of the human personality can occur.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE WRONG AND RIGHT USE OF ESOTERIC KNOWLEDGE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 2, GA 178.

"The progressive gods, the upper gods, and Lucifer with his hosts of the lower gods of hindrance, waged war against each other, and from the very beginning of earthly evolution, man was dragged into this warfare among gods." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1956), lecture 3, GA 130.

"Now consider that such Beings as the Mights, belonging to the second threefold Hierarchy, could not have had the power to become evil of their own free will; they had to be ‘adversely-commanded;’ and it was the Beings of the third threefold Hierarchy, and only those who stand nearest to man, the Angels, who first had it in their power to follow, or not to follow, the hindering Powers. Those who did not follow we always find represented in the pictures which illustrate the victories fought out in heaven. They express what happened during the Moon development, when Man had progressed as far as the organisation of his astral body, that is to the human-animal stage. Then those Angel beings who, so to speak, remained good, tore themselves away from the course of the Moon development, they escaped from what was going on down there, on the Moon. And this picture is represented to the Soul of man in different ways. It was originally represented in the fight of Michael with the dragon. You see it also in the symbol of the Bull of Mithra, where it is specially clearly expressed. It is, of course, not meant that in doing this these Angel Beings avoided their duty, but they were put forth as an ideal for the future. ‘These beings’ — it was said — ‘preferred to rise into the spiritual worlds, whereas you have descended. Other beings came down with you, those who followed the Powers of Hindrance ... The Beings who had stayed behind, whom we call the Luciferic beings, came into touch with the human astral body — they could not approach the ‘I’ — and grafted into that astral body all the results of the fight in heaven. While to the Mights was assigned the fight in heaven, for they were created Gods of Hindrance; the consequences of their deeds now slipped into the human astral body, and there signified something else; they signified the possibility of error and the possibility of evil. Man had now been given the possibility of error and of evil with the object that he should also have the possibility of rising above evil and error, through his own strength.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 10, GA 110.

“Love of ease and comfort are widespread characteristics, and it makes it possible to be enlisted after death into the ranks of Ahriman, for Ahriman, apart from his other functions, is the spirit of obstacles. Wherever obstacles arise Ahriman is master ... Those who are subject to love of ease on earth will become agents to the slowing down process of everything that comes into the world from the supersensible. So love of ease fetters human souls between death and rebirth to spirits who, under Ahriman, are compelled to serve the powers of opposition and hindrance.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (Anthroposophic Press, 1968), lecture 9, GA 140.

“[A]bove all we should not think that the sharpest powers of opposition are not active from all sides against what strives for the well-being of humanity. I have already indicated to you what is being done in the world in opposition to our movement, what hostility is activated against us. I feel myself obliged to make these things known to you, so that you should never say to yourself: We have already refuted this or that. We have refuted nothing, because these opponents are not interested in the truth. They prefer to ignore as much as possible the facts and simply aim slanderous accusations from all corners.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE HISTORY AND ACTUALITY OF IMPERIALISM (Southern Cross Review, 2011), lecture 3, GA 196.

"The beings who permeate the astral body and make it unfree are known as 'Demons.' Your astral body is always interpenetrated by demons and the beings you yourselves generate through your true or false thoughts are of such a nature that they gradually grow into demons. There are good demons, generated by good thoughts; but bad thoughts, above all those that are untruthful, generate demoniacal forms of the most terrible and frightful kind and these interlard the astral body — if I may so express it. The etheric body is also permeated by beings from which man must free himself; these beings are called 'Spectres', 'Ghosts.' And finally, permeating the physical body there are beings known as 'Phantoms.' Besides these three classes there are yet other beings, the “Spirits,” who drive the Ego hither and thither — the Ego itself also being a Spirit. In actual fact the human being generates such creatures who then determine his inner and outer destiny when he descends to incarnation. These beings work in your life in such a way that you can feel the 'demons' created by your astral body, the 'ghosts' or 'spectres' created by your etheric body and the 'phantoms' created by your physical body. All these beings are related to you and approach you when the time comes for reincarnation." — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 6, GA 99.

"[N]ow picture to yourselves a man possessed by demons of the most evil kind who know that they are facing a crisis. Picture to yourselves again that to such a man there comes One Whose mission it is to oppose the demons. What must the demons feel under such circumstances? Ill at ease in the very highest degree! And so indeed it was: in the presence of Christ Jesus the demons were ill at ease. Rosicrucianism has within it the impulse by which the demons must be countered." — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1950), lecture 1, GA 130.

The Eighth Sphere is primarily a Theosophical concept. Here is a Theosophical description:

"Eighth Sphere or Planet of Death   Both a globe and a condition of being, where utterly, irredeemably corrupt human souls are attracted, to be dissipated as earth entities. These "lost souls" have through lifetimes lost their link with their inner god, and so can no longer serve as a channel for those spiritual forces. Too gross to remain in kama-loka or avichi, they sink to this slowly dying planet of our solar system, invisible because too dense, which acts as a vent or receptacle for human waste. "The Eighth Sphere is a very necessary organic part of the destiny of our earth and its chain. . . . in the solar system there are certain bodies which act as vents, cleansing channels, receptacles for human waste and slag. . . . [the lost soul] therefore sinks into the Planet of Death or the globe of Mara to which its own heavy material magnetism drags it, where it is dissipated as an entity from above, which means from our globe, and is slowly ground over in nature's laboratory. . . . However, precisely because the lost soul is yet an aggregate of astral-vital-psychical life-atoms connected around a monad as yet scarcely evolved, this monad, when freed from its earth veil of life atoms, thereupon begins in the Planet of Death a career of its own in this highly material globe (FSO 347-8)." — ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY, http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/etgloss/ea-el.htm.

Such concepts are reflected in Steiner's own, later teachings as the Abyss, the demotion of evil humans who become subordinate nature spirits, and so forth. The "planet of death" has Anthroposophical analogues such as the "irreclaimable moon": 

“From Venus [i.e., during Venus evolution], at a certain stage, a separate celestial body becomes [i.e., will become] detached. This — as it were, an ‘irreclaimable Moon’ — includes all the beings who have persisted in withstanding the true course of evolution. It enters now [i.e., will enter then] upon a line of development such as no words can portray, so utterly unlike is it to anything within the range of man’s experience on Earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), pp. 309-310.

Here's a sort of a summary of the evil cast, although it is incomplete and couched in terms from Steiner's Theosophical period:

"We have the physical world, the astral world, the Lower Devachan and the Higher Devachan. If the body is thrust down lower even than the physical world, it comes into the sub-physical world, the lower astral world, the lower or evil Lower Devachan, and the lower or evil Higher Devachan. The evil astral world is the province of Lucifer, the evil Lower Devachan the province of Ahriman, and the evil Higher Devachan the province of the Asuras. When chemical action is driven down beneath the physical plane — into the evil Devachanic world — magnetism arises. When light is thrust down into the sub-material — that is to say, a stage deeper than the material world — electricity arises. If what lives in the Harmony of the Spheres is thrust down farther still, into the province of the Asuras, an even more terrible force — which it will not be possible to keep hidden very much longer — is generated. It can only be hoped that when this force comes to be known — a force we must conceive as being far, far stronger than the most violent electrical discharge — it can only be hoped that before some discoverer gives this force into the hands of humankind, men will no longer have anything un-moral left in them." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), a lecture, GA 130.

Here's the beginning of the definition of "Devachan" offered by the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary (Theosophical University Press,1999):

"Devachan bDe-ba-can de-wa-chen (Tibetan) [from bde-ba happiness + can possessing] The happy land; exoterically, a translation of the Sanskrit sukhavati, the happy Western Realm or Pure Land of the dhyani-buddha Amitabha of East Asian Buddhism. Certain Tibetan books contain glowing descriptions of devachan, such as the Mani Kambum (or Kumbum) and the Odpagmed kyi shing kod. The term was first employed in theosophical literature by the Mahatmas in their letters to A. P. Sinnett.

"In theosophy, devachan is the interlude between earth-lives during which the strictly higher human part of the human composite constitution, the reincarnating ego or higher manas, rests in perfect bliss. Recurring time periods of manifestation and quiescence are fundamental in nature, and devachan is the subjective part of the cyclic rhythm of human evolution on this globe. It corresponds, post-mortem, to the sleeping state of the imbodied, but the devachanic 'dreams' are far more vivid and real than ordinary dreams; as a matter of fact, earth life is more truly a dream — to many oftentimes a nightmare.

"Devachan commences after the ]second death' has taken place, when the lower quaternary of human principles (sthula-sarira, linga-sarira, prana, and kama) has separated from the reincarnating ego, which has drawn into itself the noblest thoughts, emotions, and the unrealized hopes of the past incarnation. Atma-buddhi and the more spiritual part of manas — the reincarnating higher human ego — become the spiritual monad for the time being, so that the human ego takes its devachan within the monad. The devachanic state applies only to the middle human principles, the purified personality. It has many degrees, and the ego finds its proper place in harmony with its karmic evolutionary stage."

There is a theological paradox concerning the nature of evil. Is evil good for us? Is the Devil actually a servant of God? Surely not. Yet if God is omniscient, He knows what the Devil is doing; and if God is omnipresent, then He is with the Devil wherever the Devil goes; and if God is omnipotent, then He could end evil at a stroke by simply using His limitless powers to stop the Devil. So, it would seem, the Devil acts with God's at least implicit permission. The Devil, in this sense, serves under God; he does not, in this sense, stand in opposition to God.

There is a version of this paradox in Anthroposophy — Steiner seemed a bit conflicted about the nature of evil. He sometimes used such words as "evil" and "sin," words that indicate absolutely wrong actions, actions that God (or the gods) would not want us to take. But then again, Steiner sometimes indicated that the apparently evil actions of such beings as Ahriman may actually contribute to our welfare in the long run.

Ahriman may help us by giving us obstacles to overcome, both during life and afterwards. People who make mistakes during life pay by falling into the clutches of Ahriman: 

"[F]or a certain time after death these souls have to live in a region where...they become servants of the god or gods of Opposition, those gods who place particular obstacles in the path of evolution. And these again are spirits under the rule of Ahriman. Ahriman has various things to do; one of his tasks, is to conduct out of the spiritual worlds into the physical world the forces which call forth opposition in physical life ... [T]he Lord of Opposition is Ahriman." — Rudolf Steiner, MYSTERIES OF THE EAST AND OF CHRISTIANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 2, GA 144.

"Opposition" is a far less severe word than "evil." If Ahriman is just performing his assigned "tasks," then maybe he's a good guy, in a sense. Putting obstacles in our path may benefit us when we gain the strength to overcome them. 

So maybe evil isn't so bad. Maybe it is just "opposition." On the other hand, Steiner sometimes said that there are literal "evil gods" who fight wars with "good gods": 

"[W]e are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods." — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1956), p. 251. 

War is serious business. If there are "evil gods" who fight against "good gods," then we're talking about something far worse than mere "opposition." We're talking about literal evil trying to defeat literal good.


Steiner generally indicated that all the gods work for the divine cosmic plan, directly or indirectly. All gods, in that case, are — sooner or later, wittingly or otherwise — good. But there were occasions when Steiner said something different. We have seen one statement of Steiner's that refers to "evil gods." Here are a few more.

◊ When the first Goetheanum was destroyed by fire: "[I]n our heart of hearts we could say that in the flames...was written the envy of the gods, at a time when human beings still had to follow rather more without freedom the will of good or evil gods." — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHRISTMAS CONFERENCE FOR THE FOUNDATION OF THE GENERAL ANTHROPOSOPHICAL SOCIETY 1923/1924 (Steiner Books, 1990), p. 240.

◊ "[I]f a man with inadequate concepts sinks into his feeling-life, he comes into collision with the gods — if you wish to express it thus — but also with evil gods." — Rudolf Steiner, PSYCHOANALYSIS IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1946) lecture 2, GA 178.

"Good" and "evil" may be matters of interpretation, of course. How we perceive the gods depends, Steiner said, on the evolutionary level at which we stand:

◊ "Devas were the good beings in ancient India, but in the Persian culture, they became the evil gods. The true reason for this reversal is evident from the continuing development of the human soul; in relation to the external world it had become increasingly stronger, in relationship to the inner world, increasingly weaker." — Rudolf Steiner, THE PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL ECONOMY IN CONNECTION WITH QUESTIONS OF REINCARNATION (SteinerBooks, 1986), p. 133.

The question to mull over is whether you think that "evil" is simply a matter of perspective.

The face of evil can be surprising:

"The greatest contrast to electricity is LIGHT. If we look upon light as electricity we confuse good and evil. We lose sight of the true conception of evil in the order of Nature, if we do not realize that through the electrification of the atoms we transform them into carriers of evil; we do not only transform them into carriers of death, as explained in my last lecture, but into carriers of evil. When we think of them as atoms, in general, when we imagine matter in the form of atoms, we transform these atoms into carriers of death; but when we electrify matter, Nature is conceived as something evil. For electric atoms are little demons of Evil. This, however, does not tell us much. For it does not express the fact that the modern explanation of Nature set out along a path that really unites it with Evil. Those strange people at the end of the Middle Ages, who were so much afraid of Agrippa von Nettesheim, Trithem of Sponheim, and others, so that they saw them walking about with Faust's malevolent poodle, expressed this very clumsily, but although their thoughts may have been wrong, their feelings were not altogether wrong. For, when we listen to a modern physicist blandly explaining that Nature consists of electrons, we merely listen to him explaining that Nature really consists of little demons of Evil! And if we acknowledge Nature in this form, we raise Evil to the rank of the ruling world-divinity." — Rudolf Steiner, "Concerning Electricity", ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 23/24, June 9, 1940 — from a lecture delivered January 28, 1923.

"Now on each planet there are also Spirits who have remained behind in evolution, they have remained stationary and not wished to progress. You will recognise a law from this: If the most outstanding fall and commit the 'great sin' of not advancing with evolution, then they become the very worst of all. The noble sense of liberty has been reversed into wickedness, into its opposite. Those are the Spirits of Temptation, and they must be taken gravely into account; they lead to the evil side of egoism, even today they are still in our environment, these evil Spirits of Saturn. All that is bad draws its power from these Spirits." — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 9, GA 99.

— Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings

[Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993.]

To visit other pages in the sections of Waldorf Watch
that include "Evil Ones", use the underlined links, below.


Ahriman : one bad dude

evil ones

hell : Steiner on perdition

Lucifer : good and bad...

sin : Steiner on

sphere 8 : a surprise


Ahriman : one bad dude

avatars : before James Cameron

evil ones

gnomes : and Steiner and Waldorf

guardians : of the threshold

Lucifer : good and bad...

Michael : and the dragon

planetary spirits : beneath our feet

Sun God : the Christ you didn't know

supermen : help from above