Theme for the Year: “The I knows itself”
Dimensions of the Foundation Stone Laying

Following on the question of “The Identity of the Anthroposophical Society” (the theme for 2012), we turn to the development of the human I in 2013. The individual I is both the eye of the needle and the focal point that serves to form our community and society--indeed, all of the circumstances around us.

In the age of the consciousness soul human beings are at work on developing their I, and doing so under special conditions. Until now they seem to have lacked the capacity to penetrate to the true nature of their I.1 But a process of spiritual self-knowledge is needed if they are to become conscious of this process that must be created out of individual initiative. The age of the consciousness soul brings a new, unique, complete release from every constraint, from every divine or human authority and tradition. Increasingly reliant on themselves, human beings are in danger of “forgetting” the spiritual source of their being. The issue of the I presents itself at every level of human life. Are human beings merely the product of genetic makeup and their environment? Are they responsible for their own deeds and impulses of will, or are these caused by a brain beyond their control? Are human beings free to take charge of their own lives and deaths? Are they the lords of nature, and should nature be made to serve human needs alone? How do human relationships take shape, and should the other person be viewed as an object to serve one’s own purposes? How do I find the bridge that leads to other people; can I really grasp some element of the I that lives in another person? How can a community be formed that provides space for the I to develop—how can the I acquire the capability of living in community? These are burning issues for today.

The I and the 1913 Foundation Stone

In the Macrocosmic Lord’s Prayer, the foundation stone verse for the First Goetheanum, Rudolf Steiner presents an impressive description of the danger that human beings will forget their spiritual source. He calls this Macrocosmic Lord’s Prayer “an exceedingly significant formula for meditation”2 in which “the secret of human evolution and of embodiment in earthly incarnations”3 is revealed for the first time. Thus we might say that the foundation stone for the First Goetheanum reveals the central riddle of our age: the riddle of the human being’s I. During 1913 the motif of the I appears at various levels throughout Rudolf Steiner’s depictions. Recalling this period a century later does not simply mean a retrospect on history. At its heart it represents a trust that this temporal rhythm can help us imagine the motif in the sense of a will-driven continuation of what was introduced in an archetypal way in 1913.

“Ich erkennet sich”—Laying of the Foundation Stone—The Fifth Gospel

These archetypal motifs of I-formation live in the laying of the foundation stone and at the heart of the themes developed during 1913, beginning in February with the motif of human self-knowledge in the Berlin lecture on the Being of Anthroposophy.4 In May, the London and Stuttgart lectures on the Michael impulse5 describe the formation of a new human identity through self-motivated participation in the spiritual world. Then—in August—the fourth Mystery Drama (The Soul’s Awakening) bears a seal with the words “Ich erkennet sich” [The I knows itself] inscribed within the image of a serpent devouring itself. Here the recasting process in the formation of the I is represented in an artistic way. With their spirit knowledge developed to the point of envisioning, human beings can now recognize karmic tendencies so that individual steps light up, steps that might lead to effective work in the earthly realm. The central question of the fourth drama (how “knowledge of the spirit can be married to sensory deeds”) is also the central Rosicrucian question. This question is directed at the content of the Macrocosmic Lord’s Prayer, but from another standpoint. Depending on each soul’s propensity, activity in the world brings the human being into a dramatic confrontation with the work of Ahriman and Lucifer.

Then the lectures on the Fifth Gospel (October to December) place the Macrocosmic Lord’s Prayer into the larger historical context of the Mysteries and their connection with the Christ Being. Here the twilight of the old Mysteries meets the dawn of the New Mysteries in the I.

Two Conferences and a Celebration

Two conferences organized by the Goetheanum Leadership connect with the theme for 2013/14. On July 22–28, 2013, all four Mystery Dramas will be performed during the “The Renewal of Rosicrucianism through the Spirit of Michael” conference. On September 20, the centenary of the foundation stone laying for the first Goetheanum will be marked at the Goetheanum with a celebration from 3:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (organized by the Anthroposophical Society in Switzerland and the Executive Council). The international public Michaelmas conference (September 24–29, 2013) focuses on that centenary; its goal is to make the 1913 motifs current and fruitful for the Anthroposophical Society and the School now and in the future.

We look forward to working with you on these themes this year and we hope to see you at the Goetheanum. | For the Goetheanum Leadership: Christiane Haid

1. Rudolf Steiner, An Outline of Occult Science (GA 13), chapter on”The Essential Nature of Mankind,”(Spring Valley, 1972), p. 37.

2. Rudolf Steiner, The Fifth Gospel (CW 148), Lecture of December 17. 1913, (London, 1968), p. 124.

3. Ibid.

4. see Rudolf Steiner, “The Being of Anthroposophy,” Lecture of February 3, 1913 in The Effects of Esoteric Development (CW 145), (Great Barrington, 2007), pp. 1 –18.

5. Rudolf Steiner, Approaching the Mystery of Golgotha (CW 152), (Great Barrington, 2006).


Rudolf Steiner’s address for the foundation stone laying at the First Goetheanum
in Rudolf Grosse, The Christmas Foundation, Beginning of a New Cosmic Age (London, 1984), Chapter on “Laying the Foundation Stone of the First Goetheanum.”

The Michael Impulse
Rudolf Steiner, Approaching the Mystery of Golgotha (CW 152), Lectures of May 18 and May 20, 1913 in Stuttgart.

The age of the consciousness soul, its challenges and perils
Rudolf Steiner, From Symptom to Reality in Modern History (CW 185), Lectures of October 20, October 25, and October 26, 1918 in Dornach.

The Fifth Gospel
Rudolf Steiner, The Fifth Gospel (CW 148), Lectures of December 17 and December 18, 1913 in Cologne. (Other lectures in this cycle may be helpful, as well.)

Further reading:

Sergei Prokofieff, Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries, 2nd ed., Forest Row, 1994.

Sergei Prokofieff, Das Rätsel des menschlichen Ich [The riddle of the human I], 2nd ed., Dornach 2013.

Peter Selg, Rudolf Steiner and the Fifth Gospel, Great Barrington, 2010.

Wolf Ulrich Klünker, Anthroposophie als Ich-Berührung [Anthroposophy as contact with the I], 2nd ed., Dornach, 2013.

Previous "Themes of the Year":

"The Identity of the Anthroposophical Society"

"Anthroposophy - Rosicrucianism in Our Time"

"The Destiny of the I in the Age of the Etheric Christ"

"Thinking of the Heart as an Organ for Perception of Development and Metamorphosis"