On moving as individuality between lives in different peoples and parts of the world

How did Rudolf Steiner understand, view and describe the way individuals and groups of people have developed, moving from lives spent in one people, race or culture to following lives, living as member or members of other peoples in other parts of the world?

Some examples can be found in three lectures held 12 December 1920, 14 December 1920, and 6 January 1921:


From a lecture held on 12 December 1920 in Dornach, Switzerland, to members of the Anthroposophical Society.

p. 124-125:

To describe some of these results, I would like to point your soul's eye at the population that lived in America during the time when the Europeans started conquering America and since then has continued to do it. You know, it was a population that from the perspective of the civilized Europe was described as a population of savages. But in this "savage" population that lived in America, the Indian population - while being "savage" in relation to that which has developed in Europe and that is called civilization - there lived something in relation to other soul forces, that not are intellectual, and to which the so called civilized man could wish himself back. Above all, there lived in the Indian population a view and understanding of the spiritual powers of the world, that - if you understand it more closely - is truly impressive. This population looked up to a Great Spirit. At the time of the conquest, it admittedly was becoming decadent (as exemplified by the resort to human sacrifices in the Mayan and Aztec cultures of Central America and the culture of the Incas in Peru as means to relate to the Great Spirit Translator's comment), but these decadent phenomena point back to the looking up to a Great Spirit, that flows and weaves through everything, and that has the individual elementary spirits as its subordinate forces.
[...]

Thus not only the souls that had lived as the (American) Indian population at the time of the first conquering of the West - almost all of them - but also later souls, have now (at the beginning of the 20th century - Translator's comment) already returned, and mainly in the population of Western Europe.
[...]

p. 127:
But those souls, that were living in the first Christian centuries in Europe, when Christianity spread culturally from the south to the north, now reincarnated more towards Asia. [...] Now, things have become complicated by that many individual bodies, that were inhabited by souls that, during the first Christian centuries, lived more to the south, have mixed themselves into the population that has arisen in this way - with both the souls of the original (American) Indian population and the Central European population having moved eastwards.
[...]
p. 129:
These (oriental) souls, they appear especially in that population that becomes the population of America, in general overflowing America as a conquering population coming from Europe. The whole of American culture, that has a materialistic nuance, basically develops out of the fact that souls appear there, that originally were oriental souls.
[...]
p. 130-131:
We must take into consideration, that in any generation of any people (or nation) in the present, there are souls that come from completely other places than the great great grandparents of the people (or nation) in question. It may not sound very pleasant to the national egotism, but this national egotism must disappear anyhow if humanity is to go through a corresponding development in the future. And it must be pointed to that, while a great part of the European population admittedly has developed out of great great grandparents of the Middle Ages, (American) Indian souls now live in it, and that those souls that have lived here in Europe - a great part of them at the time of Attila (433-453 A.D. Translator's comment) - and that then took up Christianity, that they now live in Asia.
[Published in Die Brücke der Weltgeistigkeit und dem Physischen des Menschen (The Bridge between World Spirituality and the Physical of Man), Dornach 1980 (GA 202). The text was not corrected by Rudolf Steiner.]


From a lecture held on 14 December 1920 in Bern, Switzerland, to members of the Anthroposophical Society.

 p. 148:

... where the European population at that time appeared as conquerors in relation to the original inhabitants of America at that time. This Indian population, it had special inner qualities. Normally, you don't do such things justice if you - in only egotistically vindicating your own 'higher' culture - only look at it as something only barbarian, if you don't consider the completely different character of such people, that have been conquered and exterminated after the discovery of America, if you don't look at them in their special character, but simply look down at them from the "birds perspective" of a "higher" culture. This original population of America, this Indian population, for example, had special pantheistic feelings. They looked up to a Great Spirit, that blew and wafted in everything that was becoming.
[...]

Through everything that is connected with the life of feelings in man, those (American Indian) souls were predestined, predetermined, to spend a relatively short time between death and new birth. But the relation that had developed between them, the soil they had lived on and their total environment, and this destiny they had in having been exterminated, all this determined their life between death and a new birth. And it led to that a large part, however paradoxical it may sound, it simply is a fact, that a large part of the West European and the Central European population, all the way into the East - not completely, but the larger part - that the larger part of this population admittedly in terms of physical inheritance has developed from grand parents of the Middle Ages, but that they have souls that have lived in old (American) Indian bodies. [...]

p. 153:
... by that in fact the souls, that in one age populates one part of the Earth, not in the next age stays in the same place, but in quite another place. You thus find those souls, that during the first Christian centuries lived in the South, now more living in the Middle-, West and Eastern Europe, that is, more in the North, but find those souls interspersed with those souls that have lived in (American) Indian bodies. Over in Asia, you find souls that during the time of the migrations (c. 400-550 A.D. Translator's comment.), but also before and after that have lived in Europe. And in America, you find those souls that especially during the time of the Mystery of Golgatha lived in Asia.

Published in Die Brücke der Weltgeistigkeit und dem Physischen des Menschen (The Bridge between World Spirituality and the Physical of Man), Dornach 1980 (GA 202). The text was not corrected by Rudolf Steiner.]


From a lecture held on 6 January 1921 in Stuttgart, Germany, to members of the Anthroposophical Society.

p. 37:
Now, where were the souls of a large part, notably a large part of of the population of Western Europe and also a large part of the population of Central Europe all the way to Russia, in an earlier life? If you investigate this issue thoroughly with the means of spiritual research at your disposal, it turns out that you have to do with souls that have lived a relatively short life between the last death and this birth. You are led towards the West. On your research path, you are led to where, after the discovery of America, a large part of the European population colonized this America and exterminated the original population, or at least to a very high degree suppressed it. You are led to the centuries of the conquering of America, to those souls that lived in the (American) Indian bodies that had fallen prey to the conquerors. You will only understand what I have to say, if you judge these Indians, that were exterminated by the Europeans, in the right way. They admittedly were not educated people in the sense that it is understood today, but there lived something in these souls, that I would like call a universal pantheistic religious feeling.
Published in Die Verantwortung des Menschen für die Weltentwickelung (The Responsibility of Man for the Evolution of the World), Dornach 1989 (GA 203). The text was not corrected by Rudolf Steiner.]


Copyright on the translation: Sune Nordwall 2002. 

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