“The descent into materialism was necessary in order that the fifth epoch might fulfill its mission It was essential that astral and spiritual clairvoyance should grow dim in order that the intellect might develop by precise, minute and mathematical observation of the physical world. Physical science must be supplemented by spiritual science.
“Our fifth epoch will be followed by another, the sixth. This sixth epoch will see the development of brotherhood among men, clairvoyance and creative power. … To the priest in the mysteries before Christ, there was harmony between science and faith. Science and faith were one and the same. …
“Now that the attention of men is wholly directed to the physical world, faith has need of a refuge, of religion. … In the sixth epoch, the two streams will again unite. Mechanical science will become spiritually creative. This will be Gnosis-spiritual consciousness.” ~Rudolf Steiner
I’m not sure Mr. Steiner is correct in saying that the descent into materialism was necessary. We cannot deny, however, that it has happened.
It is certainly true that there are forces in the material world which act upon us in different ways. Without getting into the details that are reserved for spiritual students, some forces act to lift us and make us grow, while other pull us down deeper into matter and materialism. You might think of these forces as being the two wolves in the old Native American story. The wolf that is fed is the one that grows strong. In the last several centuries, the wolf we have fed is clearly the forces that pull us deeper into matter. We have reached a point where the materialistic scientists have become like priests to some. And to many, the existence of anything other than matter is laughed at. Fortunately, the fantasies of materialism do not change the reality.
As Steiner says, this epoch was one of emphasis on the intellect. This power of the brain-mind is certainly impressive. So impressive, that many feel their can be nothing greater. But the intellect is limited to understanding the physical realm. It can only grasp the spiritual in a superficial way.
We are now at the dawn of this new epoch. It is clear that some are awakening again. While the numbers are still relatively small, it is much greater than it was a century ago. We are again talking of the Essenes and Theraputes as holy people rather than misguided wackos. We are learning again to understand the allegorical tales of the ancients including those found in Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu scripture.
As part of this awakening of a new Age of Enlightenment, we are seeing a return of ancient spiritual schools or mystery schools. Some of these schools are new, but teach the ancient truths that never change. Others are a resurgence of schools that never entirely disappeared.
Sadly, there are also phony schools popping up. Sleazy materialist who see this spiritual growth as a path to some quick money throw together classes and seminars from various sources in a hap-hazard way that teaches very little and are in a few cases dangerous. When searching for a school to study under, we need to trust out intuition rather than falling for elaborate and expensive advertising.
Steiner says this fifth epoch will be followed by another. This will be an even greater epoch of living together in true harmony and spirituality.
More accurately, we can say the fifth epoch was one of descent into matter. The sixth epoch is one of awakening and a return to spirituality. The seventh epoch will happen when the material universe returns to its original state of spirit. Then matter will no longer exist, and death, disease, competition, and the other negative things associated with matter will be done.
So if you’re still trapped in the fifth epoch, now id the time to awaken. Start developing your spiritual self. Awaken your spirit and soul with the light of the spiritual sun. Start learning the truth to achieve what Steiner called “ Gnosis-spiritual consciousness.” The more we awaken, the easier the transition will be.