We live in critical, apocalyptic times. In these five lectures, given just after the end of the First World War and in the midst of trying to effect the social-political life of his times with the movement for a threefold social order, Steiner focuses on the vital task of developing a right orientation toward the spirit: a free spiritual life. With great compassion and understanding he shows how humanity must walk a conscious middle path between the two “tempting” powers of Lucifer and Ahriman. He tells of the incarnation of Lucifer in the third millennium BCE, from which flowed not only the wisdom of paganism but also the intellectual consciousness we enjoy today. Ahriman is shown to be approaching humanity through phenomena such as materialism, nationalism, and literalism in preparation for his incarnation in the millennium now opening. It must not be thought, however, that these two powers work apart: on the contrary, they work more and more together. Our task is to hold them in balance, continually permeating the one with the other. Doing this requires a new form of conscious spirituality.
Translated by D. S. Osmond. Original German title: “Soziales Verständniss aus geisteswissenschaftlicher Erkenntnis” (Social understanding from insights in the humanities) and “Der innere Aspekt des sozialen Rätsels. Luziferische Vergangenheit and ahrimanische Zukunft” (The inner aspect of the social mystery. Luciferian past and Ahrimanic future).