By Rudolf Steiner

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If he could consciously make use of his Mercury, his fluid element, he would be able to use Inspiration, and Imagination if he could use his Sulphur — not in that transmitted sense, but in the actual sense as the Alchemists of the Middle Ages still understood it, when they spoke of the ‘philosophical sulphur’. Today there is also a philosophical sulphur: [Schwefel (Sulphur) has also a slang meaning of ‘hot air’. ] Professors of philosophy manufacture it in vast quantities, but this is not what the Alchemists understood by it.

As child, up to puberty, he perceived, he only perceived; afterwards he worked this over inwardly. One might say it is only a perceptive process and a thinking process spread out in time; whereas today it is placed at man's own discretion to observe abstractly and to reflect, conceive abstractly. Over the whole life was spread what we now crowd together in a few moments as regards the outer physical world, perceive, conceive. That was something which in his relation to the world man thought of as spread out over the whole of human life between birth and death.

In such signs was cosmic wisdom contained for ancient times, this cosmic wisdom which in fact was at the same time a heavenly wisdom, inasmuch as men read the cosmic mysteries in the star-script, as the dead alone are able to do now. The gift of possessing a writing which is really a reproduction of Imaginations only belonged to humanity at a certain period of time, and then vanished. And the ancients knew: this imaginative way of writing existed in the age of Osiris. Together with the dying away of the old life of the world in Imaginations, the ancient picture-script disappeared and there arose that which has become the abstract script.

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