Meditations on the Tarot –

A journey into Christian Hermeticism

By Valentin Tomberg


Another example of an excessive accentuation of the knowledge of evil—and therefore of an occupation of consciousness with evil— is the preoccupation with the problem of the twofold (even threefold) evil amongst German Anthroposophists. Lucifer and Ahriman (and even Adzura), the two principles of evil, subjective and objective, the seducing principle and the hypnotising principle, have so taken possession of the consciousness of Anthroposophists that there is hardly a single thing which would not fall under the category of being Ahrimanic or Luciferic. Science is Ahrimanic in so far as it is objective; Christian mysticism is Luciferic in so far as it is subjective. The East is under the domination of Lucifer; because it denies matter; the West is under the domination of Ahriman, because it has created a material civilisation and tends to materialism. All machines— including the apparatus of radio and television —incorporate Ahrimanic demons. Laboratories are the fortresses of Ahriman; theatres—and churches, some believe— are the fortresses of Lucifer. And so on. Anthroposophists are led to classify thousands of facts from the point of view of the category of evil which is revealed through them—which suffices to occupy them for the whole day.

And to so occupy oneself amounts to contact with evil and a corresponding reduction of living and inspiring contact with good. The result is a lame wisdom without wings deprived of creative élan, which only repeats and comments to satiety what the master, Dr. Rudolf Steiner, said. And yet Rudolf Steiner has certainly said things of a nature to awaken the greatest creative élan! His series of lectures on the Gospels, his lectures at Helsingfors and Düsseldorf on the celestial hierarchy; without mentioning his book on the inner work leading to initiation (Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. How is it achieved)—would alone suffice to inflame a deep and mature creative enthusiasm in every soul who aspires to authentic experience of the spiritual world. But it is the preoccupation with evil which has clipped the wings of the Anthroposophical Movement and has rendered it such as it is since the death of its founder: a movement for cultural reform (art, education, medicine, agriculture) deprived of living esotericism, i.e. without mysticism, without gnosis and without magic, which have been replaced by lectures, study and intellectual work aiming at establishing a concordance between the writings and stenographic lectures of the master.

One ought not to occupy oneself with evil, other than keeping a certain distance and a certain reserve, if one wishes to avoid the risk of paralysing the creative élan and a still greater risk – that of furnishing arms to the powers of evil. One can grasp profoundly, i.e. intuitively, only that which one loves. Love is the vital element of profound knowledge, intuitive knowledge. Now, one cannot love evil. Evil is therefore unknowable in its essence. One can only understand it at a distance, as an observer  of its phenomenology…

This excerpt is from Valentin Tomberg’s book Meditations on the Tarot – A journey into Christian Hermeticism, translated by Robert Powell.