Theme for the Year: “The I Knows Itself” – in the Light of Michaelic World Affirmation

The arc from Society to individual is continued with the theme for the year: “The I Knows Itself” – in the Light of Michaelic World Affirmation. Like the Society, the individual confronts the same challenges as other contemporaries and must also find a connection to the world—as a basis for self-knowledge.

From the question of the Anthroposophical Society’s identity to the foundation stone laying for the first Goetheanum, an event focused on the I in its development—this describes the path we have tried to follow over the past two years. In our time each aspect is affected by two perspectives that represent important questions and context for the Anthroposophical Society.

Between Abyss and Renewal

One is the question about the I in contention with the world as it stands amid the events of our time: the peril for the I, the challenge of life in changing, complex times—fateful for many—and a growing opportunity to understand humanity in a new way and make it real. That we are contemporaries is more than just something we all share; it is the point where mighty abysses and immense possibilities for renewal begin.

On the other hand, for the Anthroposophical Society these themes exist in the context of 100th anniversaries—in a historical as well as a contemplative light from which fresh and renewing impulses for the great questions and challenges of our time can arise.

Both perspectives raise questions for us as contemporaries. Where does a self-knowledge connected with world events begin? The motto: “The I knows itself” is a lens of knowledge for the consciousness soul, the start of a turn toward the spirit in the human being and the world born out of the human being’s deep entanglement in matter and out of a thinking that has united itself with the conditions of material phenomena in the world while also creating them.

Understanding for Life

We are still at the beginning of the Michael age that dawned at the end of the 19th century. The path to spirit knowledge and a cosmopolitan existence in the world is being traveled under conditions that are often oppressive, conditions into which we have placed ourselves as humanity and in which new capacities can nonetheless be found. Many people are taken hold of by a deep concern: we know and feel that we increasingly share a deeprooted bond.

The human being possesses capacities for a knowledge that serves life and must do justice to it. Concepts and ideas cited as natural scientific law prove inadequate for understanding the element of life. This understanding arises in an active turn toward the other person. It is no longer a picture of the world, but a compassionate existence in the world, a thinking that brings us into relationship, into connection and an experience of interrelationship. The quality of interrelationship is the human quality. Rudolf Steiner indicates that we belong to the earth only when our relationship to other people is felt, that our connection with the earth is contingent on our connection with the human being.1 The humanity of the human being—so often doubted today!—arises in his connection with the world: “Man grows ever more Man, as he grows to be an expression of the World. He finds himself, not by seeking himself, but by uniting himself to the World with Will in Love.”2 This sensitivity makes great possibilities apparent, but great thresholds also appear: The will to make a decision, to act, often becomes a challenge. There is reluctance to make decisions and carry them out because we sense the unpredictable results of acting.

Hope and Expectation

“Uniting oneself to the World with Will in Love” requires affirmation of our world. This affirmation is not just needed; it is done in a knowledge that wills to include the fullness of reality—its spiritual dimension—as well. Rudolf Steiner contrasts the Michaelic mood of affirmation to Ahriman’s mood of world negation condensed entirely into Ahriman’s own being: “One of the Imaginations of Michael is as follows:—He reigns through the course of Time, bearing the light of the Cosmos as living being of his being, fashioning the warmth of the Cosmos as revelation of his own being. He wends as one Being like a World—affirming himself inasmuch only as he affirms the World—as though from all stations of the universe guiding forces to the earth below.”3 Of course, we can experience world affirmation in different ways. The human quality of birth, the fact the human being decides to be born, the fact the will to live on the earth is so powerful that the human being unites with the physical and creates a body—that is perhaps our greatest expression of affirmation. In his address to youth in Breslau 90 years ago, Rudolf Steiner spoke of a Michael festival—the future rings forth from a shared experience of hope and expectation: “We really need to reach the point where the sprouting life of the  future we can feel in its embryonic form finds expression in festivals of hope, in festivals of expectation.…There should not merely be a vague exaltation through the Michael idea; there should be the consciousness that a new world of soul must be founded among human beings. The Michael principle is actually what leads us. A shared experience is part of working toward a Michael festival in which the spirit of hope, the spirit of expectation, can live.”4

Affirmation Based on Spirit Knowledge

Hope and expectation as an expression of world affirmation—we would like to place the theme for the year into this context: The I that unites with the world in knowledge, an esoteric life that can serve the human being and world affirmation. Spirit knowledge as the basis for affirmation of a world that has forgotten the spirit but wills to be known in its spiritual element—we wish you a good year of working with this theme!
| Constanza Kaliks, Goetheanum Leadership


“Christ descended for all human beings and only through our feeling related to everyone else do we belong to the earth. The deeper understanding of the Christ derives from our effort to attain a full and complete connection with them.” (Rudolf Steiner, The Karma of Vocation [GA 172], lecture, November 27, 1916, Spring Valley,, 1984, pp. 201–202).

Rudolf Steiner: The Michael Mystery, “World-Thoughts in Michael, and World-Thoughts in Ahriman”, November 16, 1924, London, 1956, p. 56

Ibid. p. 55. The continuation reads: “And, in contrast, an Imagination of Ahriman: Ahriman, in his course, from Time would wring Space. Around him is darkness, into which he projects the rays of his own light. The more he achieves his ends, the keener grows the frost around him. He moves like a world contracted into one single being—his own; affirming himself only by negating the world; he moves as though he brought with him uncanny forces from the dark caverns of the earth.”

Rudolf Steiner, lecture, June 9, 1924, in Die Erkenntnis-Aufgabe der Jugend (GA 217a)

Previous "Themes of the Year":

"The I Knows Itself": Dimensions of the Foundation Stone Laying

"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"