Sergej Prokofieff, head of the international Anthroposophical Society, explains (link to pdf-file) how the internet is best understood from an esoteric viewpoint. Rudolf Steiner prophesied that “from the earth will well up terrible creations of beings who in their character stand between the mineral kingdom and the plant kingdom as automative beings with a super-natural intellect, an immense intellect” and they will spread over the world like ahrimanic spiders weaving a web. There will be evil intent and mankind “will have to unite with these terrible mineral-plant like spider creatures.” Prokofieff — ignoring the very fact he has himself observed in Steiner’s indications, i e, that this web is to be expected no sooner than about 6000 years from now — writes:
“It is as if Rudolf Steiner, with his spiritual gaze, described today’s Internet from beyond the threshold, categorically warning humanity that in a not too distant future, with the unification of moon and earth, this whole internet-computer-web and in fact everything connected with the development of the artificial intellect will suddenly come alive …”
Technology, thus, means problems, but what is Prokofieff suggesting as a cure? White magic. (Anthroposophy?)
“The frightening picture of an insect caught in the net of a huge and ravenous spider, trying in vain to free itself, outlines an appropriate picture of this future for mankind. And it will be a very special task of white magic to free such people from their bond to these beings.”
Secret occult circles are responsible for speeding up this development and they are also behind the name for the internet: that’s why it’s called www, the world wide web. That aside, it is not until this passage that I seriously begin to question Prokofieff’s sanity:
“This begs the question whether some of the other labels in the world have arisen from the same source e.g. the hotel chain in Germany called “Sorat” (the largest Hotel being in the centre of Berlin) or the satellite aerials which in the centre of their dish display in big red letters the name “SatAn;” or as with the latest computer system where one finds demonic pictures and words as for example the internet browser “Mozilla” which portrays the head of a red dragon etc.”
It’s a fox, dear mr Prokofieff, but I’m certain S:t Michael can slay foxes too, they’re usually smaller than dragons.
Then we learn that the letter “w” is the spiritual equivalent of the number “6” which is not a good thing at all: “www”, consequently, is “666” — the number of the beast. That is, satan. But, as Steiner has indicated, satan will use something man-made for his evil attacks on humanity; let’s return to Prokofieff:
“In my opinion the Internet and everything connected to artificial intelligence are part of this.”
What is going to happen, then, when the occult circles have their ways, and satan his?
“the aims of the … occult circles not only relate to the spiritual en-webbing of humanity but ultimately in the endeavour to put the whole undertaking into the service of ‘Sorat.'”
But the internet isn’t the only grave problem facing mankind. I bet most people don’t give much thought to the spiritual aspects of discs and data storage devices, more specifically the compression of data; this would be mistaken, because
“one has to remember that when the cosmic intelligence guarded by Michael descended from the sun to the earth in order there to become human intelligence, it went through a massive process of compression or contraction.”
Ahriman can interfere in this (of course, Ahriman can interfere everywhere), but if he doesn’t, the intelligence (or data) is set “free after death during the expansion of the ether body in the cosmos”. Ahriman tries to screw up the work of Michael (and his blessed forces) — and he can do this by messing with digitalized information. Like a pathologically jealous husband, he wants to gain control and power, in this case over human intelligence.
“Ahriman finds such favourable conditions especially in the world of the computer and digital industry.”
The digitalization of Rudolf Steiner’s collected works is perhaps paradoxical (the digital German Gesamtausgabe consists of hundreds of his works), as the material is also compressed (and then transferred to laser discs — oh the horror), and can make the spiritually conscious feel physical pain (why physical pain and not spiritual pain, I ask, but I suppose there’s no answer to that one…). This is a big drift into sub-nature.
“Don’t fall prey to the illusion that it is possible to ‘redeem’ the Internet or CD/ DVD in the way Rudolf Steiner indicated for printing. In the realm of sub-nature the obstacles are far greater.”
It is a task for the School of Spiritual Science to “consciously oppose the ahrimanic principle of the duad, which has spread worldwide in particular through computers …”.
“[i]t follows that the whole computer- and Internet industry is today the most effective way to prepare for the imminent incarnation of Ahriman or at least to allow his earthly task to run as smoothly as possible for him. The net of ahrimanic spider beings developing out of the internet around the earth stands right from the beginning in a direct relationship to Ahriman appearing in a physical body and will serve him particularly effectively and offer him extremely favourable potential to work.”
In addition to the work of ahrimanic forces, the internet has, according to Prokofieff, enabled vicious and defamatory attacks on the anthroposophical movement (or maybe these are the ahrimanic forces? well, I suppose so…). These “attacks” will become increasingly severe with the spread of Steiner’s collected works in digital form,
“because then all alleged ‘vulnerable passages’ in the collective works will be easily and quickly accessible.”
It’s easy to spot the warped logic. When people can read Steiner for themselves — instead of reading or hearing propaganda brochures on anthroposophy — they will reject much of what he had to say. When people can find out for themselves, they become dangerous. Unfiltered, uncensored access enables people to form their own opinions more easily. (But, contrary to Prokofieff’s bad feelings about this, I think that having the material accessible allows people to find out for themselves that the bad things in Steiner aren’t always as bad as we’ve suspected, and that there are many redeeming qualities about him, too. To know this, you need to read, you need the source. And wasn’t this what he wanted, to some extent — openness? Unlike the relative secrecy surrounding other esoteric or occult movements, groups and their teachings. More on this later, though. Suffice to say that Prokofieff claims that the online publication of the works contributes to an increasing intellectualisation of anthroposophy “through which it will be handed to Ahriman, the Master of Death.”)
This doesn’t mean people have to give up modern technology altogether (had Prokofieff suggested they had to, he would have boldly contradicted Steiner’s recommendations, although Steiner spoke about other types of applications of ahrimanic science and technology); it’s more crucial who controls whom. For Prokofieff, it’s about noticing what is happening “in reality”. Given the content of this particular article, I very much doubt he knows what “reality” is, but that’s just a side-note. I’m almost blushing when I read about phenomena such as the “ahrimanic seduction” though. Probably because I’m so totally under its spell. I am seduced. By the internet, by the glorious spiders offering an ahrimanic kingdom — I can’t resist! But then, of course, I am “an instrument for alien purposes” who “slowly slides into the sub nature [myself].” Damn it, I am
“cut … off from [my] ability to read in the astral light and thus to encounter Michael in the spiritual world.”
Sure, through the internet, people can connect with each other in an unprecedented manner, but instead
“mankind becomes increasingly separated from the cosmos and the hierarchies and thus is bound up with what was described above as an ahrimanic spider web.”
“The Michaelic intelligence came to earth from the spiritual world in order for man to achieve freedom through insight.”
Not the insight gained from reading — Steiner’s works? — on the internet, I gather. Intelligence and freedom for mankind — but not to be used intelligently and freely? That’s also quite interesting, a kind of plea for restricted freedom and stupid intelligence? Anyway, the world wide web has enhanced the process of the human intellect becoming shadowy (spiritually speaking).
When anthroposophic works are published online, they “are being put into an occult prison.” Prokofieff is particurly worried about the fate of the so-called class texts (the Esoteric Lessons for the First Class of the School of Spiritual Science — available online, as far as I know, only in German). The class texts supposedly consist of “a substance, which comes directly from Michael himself (out of the Michael-School) and therefore contains imaginations in their original form” and consequently they must be treated differently than other Steiner works, according to Prokofieff (and, I’m certain, many others). However, the lessons are already there, and I’d say it’s good they are: it was inevitable.
Prokofieff speaks of a need of a place
“within man and for future mankind, where anthroposophical wisdom is protected from serving adversarial forces.”
Is anthroposophy too weak to subsist if or when it encounters adversity? Sometimes it strikes me: anthroposophists have very little faith in anthroposophy. And I mean faith as in confidence, not as in religious type faith.
And I, I am seduced. By everything bad and evil.
A sort of long PS, but while I was writing, a friend sent me another link, namely of Eugene Schwartz’s reply to Prokofieff. It’s entertaining. For example the part about the unmentionable early computer in the Goetheanum’s basement. Schwartz also writes:
“So timely and important was this information [about the webs] that Steiner was not alone in presenting these inter-related Imaginations of intelligent spiders and world-saving supermen. In her ca. 1915 book, Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip, (Figure 1) the beloved children’s author Elsa Beskow pictured the telephone network as a web spun by a spider … And it is certainly no coincidence that in the 1930s, in the very years that Steiner had spoken of the possibility of humanity participating in the etheric reappearance of the Christ being, the Imagination of the supermen that Steiner had given in the previous decade appeared, in however distorted a form, in the medium of the comic book (the addictive mid-century equivalent of the video game) as figures such as Batman, Plastic Man, the Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and, of course, Superman, the prototype of them all.”
Then Schwartz hints that perhaps Prokofieff’s scare-mongering will please Ahriman, since “such pusillanimity is precisely what Ahriman hopes to sow in us, opening us up even more to his impulses.”
And, of course, as I mentioned, the “dragon” is really a fox:
“It should also be noted that, rather than the ‘head of a red dragon’ that Prokofieff describes, Mozilla’s Firefox browser logo displays the body of a red fox encircling the world. From the time of Aesop, the fox has served as a symbol of cunning intellect and prevarication; somewhat less formidable that the Dragon, for sure, but certainly scary enough! Although I have not seen the SatAn satellite dishes mentioned by Prokofieff, there is the well-known ‘white hat’ hackers’ web site whose acronym SATAN stands for Security Administrator Tool for Analyzing Networks.”
Schwartz notes that the secret occult aren’t very cunning in their concealment of Ahriman’s activies:
“if, as Steiner clearly indicated, the aim of these occult brotherhoods is to hide the approach of Ahriman, why are they doing just the opposite? Indeed, it could be said that the hotel chain, the satellite communications system, the browser, and the World Wide Web are literally advertising Ahriman’s incarnation. And for all of those who still don’t get it, the brotherhoods, through their minions in the ‘entertainment industry,’ provide a never-ending spectacle of movies and video games replete with superheroes, giant insects, alien invasions, demonic automatons, and depressingly dystopic visions of the earth’s future (e.g. Bladerunner, Gattica, and Children of Men, which even portrays a world in which all women are barren). Short of shouting it from the rooftops, the occult brotherhoods that Prokofieff describes could hardly be broadcasting their aims for the future any more blatantly. For groups that consider themselves ‘occultists,’ these brotherhoods aren’t very good at keeping a secret.”
Most importantly, he asks
“If Steiner was not inclined to advise people to stay away from the telegraph, a system that was clearly a precursor of the Internet, then why should we assume that he would be so opposed to the Internet itself as a channel for communications about the spirit?”
and continues to say
“let us recognize that anthroposophists are already nestled in the Internet dragon’s skin, albeit semi-unconsciously and in a very advanced state of denial.”
Prokofieff, The Being of The Internet (pdf), published in Pacifica Journal 2006. (New link: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/images/stories/Journal_Articles/PacificJ29.pdf.)
Update April 1, 2015: Prokofieff’s article has moved, but can be found here now: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/images/stories/Journal_Articles/WJP11.pdf.