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The Shadow Double and the Guardian of the Threshold


Sandro Parise – The Double, The Guardian and the Guardian Angel

The Double or Shadow

In order to understand the Double or, according to Jung, the Shadow, also known by the German term Doppelgänger, we must first take into account that it is multiple. Unlike the Guardian Angel, whose individuality is unitary, the Double is made up of multiple aspects, sometimes in contrast to each other. On the contrary, the Guardian Angel is the individual future of man and leads in a progressive way to the Future Jupiter when man will be Man-Angel. The Double is instead the past that goes back to the collective, to what Jung called the collective unconscious.

If unrecognized, the Double leads in a retrograde way to the past, that is, the degraded man, the one who will finally belong to the Eighth Sphere as Man-beast, that is, those who have vowed to escape their karma by means of black magic, strengthening and crystallizing the only aspect of personality, the lower astral “I”, at the expense of individuality, the superior “I” properly spiritual. If, on the other hand, the Double is recognized and redeemed, it becomes the force to draw upon in spiritual progress.

This makes a profound difference to being:

  1. The Double is a multiple entity and derives from a crystallization of what man has already been in a remote past, which goes back from the individual to the collective dimension;

  2. The Guardian Angel is a unitary being who forms a mould in which man is called to grow by fulfilling his destiny.

The Gospel refers to this multiplicity with the demonic name of “Legion“:

He said to him, “Come out, unclean spirit, from this man.” And he asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he answered him, “because there are many of us. – Mark 5:8-9

The difference is also due to the rank of these two spiritual beings, which places them in relation to certain spirits rather than others:

  1. The Guardian Angel is an Angel, he was human on the Ancient Moon when the Cosmos was pervaded by Wisdom. The Guardian Angels arrived to the Metamorphosis of the Earth in a regular way, but at the moment of the Mystery of Golgotha, some were not able to welcome Christ and remained tied to Lucifer who is precisely the bearer of Wisdom;

  2. The Double is an Archangel, therefore he was human on the Ancient Sun, and forms the dark counterpart of the Spirits of the People. The Doubles have followed the Ahrymanic rebellion in the Ancient Sun, thus acquiring the Power of which Ahriman is the bearer.

Moreover, unlike the Guardian Angel whose activity of guarding the human soul continues for some time after physical death; the Double is afraid of death and therefore flees when physical death occurs. This is due to the fact that while the Angel acts in accordance with the Holy Spirit, and therefore with the forces of Resurrection, the Double acts in the opposite direction wanting to remain in his involuntary state and even “replacing” the physical body of his host.

The Guardian and the Guardian Angel

However, we must bear in mind that, just as it is possible to redeem the Guardian of the Threshold in an Archangel, it is possible to corrupt the Guardian Angel through black magic. The Angel whose inferior body is the etheric body is intimately linked to the human soul and in a certain sense forms the protective shell in which man develops the Manas or Spiritual Self within the conscious soul. The Spiritual Self is the highest part of the Angel, which is therefore able to show man the way to obtain it, redeeming karma and therefore lifting himself to heights, according to “levity”. The forces of the “I”, just as they are capable of reaching the sub-sensitive sphere of the Center of Destruction, are capable of lifting themselves up to the conscious soul, which acts as a shell of the Manas or Spiritual Self.

When, by means of black magic, the fulfillment of karma is eluded, the etheric body with its ahrimanic dispositions and the astral body with its luciferic dispositions are unnaturally preserved, in other words, the personality, the lower self, resulting from the past as if it were a “mummy”, a mask. The etheric-astral mummy acts as a weight in the occult constitution of The Angel who therefore tends to be attracted by the “gravity” of the terrestrial sphere where he can be captured. Now this inferior “mummified” “I” is able to drag the path of formation of the Spiritual Self towards the opposite of it, that is, towards the Eighth Sphere, thus dragging the Angel and therefore transforming it into the Fallen Angel.

The Hidden Constitution of the Double

Just as the human being possesses seven bodies, so the Double or Shadow possesses seven layers, each of which gives a particular polarization to the Shadow that is thus a being with “seven heads”, the Seven Demons that Christ Jesus expels from the sinner, mistakenly associated with Magdalene:

When the unclean spirit comes out of man, it wanders through arid places in search of rest and, not finding any, says: I shall return to my house from which I came. He comes, finds it swept and adorns it. Then he goes, takes with him seven other spirits worse than him, and they enter and dwell there, and that man’s final condition becomes worse than the first. – Luke 11:24-26

As well as the Dragon from the Seven Heads of the Apocalypse who stands in the way of the Woman Dressed in the Sun:

Then another sign appeared in the sky: a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns and seven tiaras on its heads; its tail dragged down a third of the stars in the sky and plunged them to earth. The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth to devour the newborn child. – Revelation 12:3-4

These seven heads can be conceived as dimensions that the Double, in its multiple nature, possesses:

  1. Elementary Dimension

  2. Geographic Dimension

  3. Physical Dimension

  4. Etheric Dimension

  5. Astral Dimension

  6. Karmic Dimension

  7. Little Guardian of the Threshold

More in detail:

  1. Elementary Dimension: elementary beings who have not been redeemed by the taking of Lucifer and Ahriman, the Spirits of the Obstacle. These are the ancient forces of Nature that should no longer act, which are in common with the Animal, Plant and Mineral Realms. The Elementals that are not consciously perceived by man are at the mercy of the Lucifer and Ahriman forces, which therefore make them decay into an infernal state, which will eventually lead them into the Eighth Sphere. There are therefore Ahrymanic gnomes, Ahrymanic waves, Luciferic sylphs and Luciferic salamanders;

  2. Geographic Dimension: the forces that from the ground of a particular geographical place rise in the blood, influencing all our inferior bodies. It is in relation to the Genius Loco, the Spirit of the Place, whose physiognomy is determined by the preponderance of one of the four ethers (heat, light, sound and life) compared to the landscape (arrangement of mountain ranges, volcanoes, hills, plains, presence or absence of the sea, lakes, etc.). In particular, the presence of volcanic activity means that sulphur rising from the ground strengthens the Double, just as it binds the blood to the ground. The mountain ranges oriented from North to South, create a dualism between the areas of light and darkness, strengthening the Double;

  3. Physical Dimension: the physical sex, since it denies the expression of the opposite and complementary sex, which is present in the etheric. The man of the first half of the Lemuric Era was both man and woman, hermaphrodite, and capable of self-reproducing by means of eggs. After the division of the Moon from the Earth, the original man split into male and female, polarizing. In order to evolve spiritually, man must compensate for both polarities, bearing in mind that if the physical body is of one sex, the etheric body is of the opposite and complementary sex. If we identify ourselves only with the external sex, and therefore not with the internal male or female, the Double will take possession of the conscious soul;

  4. Etheric Dimension: the temperament that denies the other possibilities of temperament (melancholic, phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric), this is influenced by the education received in the family and at school, which will create the substratum of prejudice inherent in the rational soul. The etheric body is particularly malleable up to the 2nd Septennium at the age of 14, so it is susceptible to all environmental influences imposed by education, whether for good or evil. This causes a predominant temperament to manifest itself in the etheric, which makes the other three temperaments that will form the Double unexpressed;

  5. Astral Dimension: the character with pleasure and regret, what we like denies what we are sorry and vice versa, and is closely related to feelings and therefore to the sentient soul. Until the 4th Septennium, at the age of 28, that is to say at the moment of development of the sentient soul, we identify with what we like while we shun what we do not like, however in humanity as a whole everything that we do not like we like someone else. It follows that when we identify with what we like, a personal taste, we limit the potential of the human being. Everything we reject will become part of the Double;

  6. Karmic Dimension: it is the uncompensated waste of the destiny in which we are inserted, which in turn derives from a compressed set of destinies, interwoven in previous lives. Within us, in the karmic dimension, there exist all the previous incarnations in which there will always be a portion of uncompensated karma. All the images of the personalities we have impersonated in the past are present in the deepest layers of the Double, which therefore can also access our personal and therefore unconscious karma;

  7. Little Guardian of the Threshold: in its protective aspect, the Double guards the Threshold for worlds that are over-sensitive to those who are not yet ready to cross it. The Little Guardian of the Threshold, like the Double, belongs to the rank of the Archangels and therefore is able to access the memory of all humanity since the Polar Epoch (what Jung calls the collective unconscious). The Guardian represents the aspect of service that the Double offers to the spiritual world, so that all those who want to undertake the esoteric path will sooner or later have to meet the Guardian. Those who are too weak to cross the Threshold, however, become aware of the Double, which is the sum of all their faults, vices and sins. He who fails an initiation, whether out of unpreparedness or fear, is therefore persecuted by the Double, which can lead to madness. This is the image that Edward Bulwer-Lytton returns to us in fictionalized form in his Zanoni.

All of these dimensions are polarizations, which make the Doubles equipped with multiple aspects. As is evident, these aspects affect the physical body, the etheric body and the astral body and the organization of the “I” and go up to the lower “I” which represents the highest constitutive limb to which the Double can reach directly with its occult constitution. Therefore the Double is not us, but dwells in us, in our occult constitution. Obviously the Higher Self is not touched by the Shadow, since it is not polarized, except in respect to the lower self as a whole. The Superior “I”, in fact, poses itself as the one who harmonizes the polarities of the Double with respect to its polar Guardian Angel, with at the center the inferior “I” that experiences the incarnation.

The Duality of the Double

The Double is in itself dual, in fact it has two essential aspects:

  1. Double Luciferic: which acts mainly in the Astral, Karmic, Geographic, Elementary (Sylphs, Salamanders), electricity, artificial lights strengthen the Double Luciferic;

  2. Double Ahrimanic: that acts mainly in the dimensions Etheric, Physical, Geographic, Elementary (Ondine, Gnomes), all the technologies that exploit magnetism and geomagnetism strengthen the Double Ahrimanic;

The duality of the Double is opposed to the unity of the Guardian Angel and therefore of the Superior “I” with respect to all the luciferic-ahrimanic oppositions. In the same way in the Tree of Life of the Kabbalah we have the 1st Sephirah Kether, the Crown, which is radically opposed to Thaumiel, the last Qliphoth of the Tree of Death, which instead of being unitary is composed of two irreducible spheres.

From what has been said so far it will be understood that the Shadow is not at all Evil in itself, but it is certainly the door through which Evil in itself can manifest itself in man. The Double wants to conquer the “I” to replace it, being able to drag the Man-beast into the Eighth Sphere; while the Guardian Angel wants to lead man to his future being Man-Angel of the Future Jupiter. We must also keep in mind that, because of their occult constitution and therefore the Metamorphosis of the Earth in which they have experienced the human stage and therefore the possibility of rebellion:

  1. The Guardian Angel may be under luciferic or christic influence;

  2. The Double can be under luciferic or arimanic influence.

In fact, keep in mind that without the knowledge of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic Double it is not possible to know the Guardian Angel and even less the divinity:

It is impossible to reach a true and adequate concept of God, and therefore of Christ, as long as it is believed that the structure of the universe, including the spiritual world, is comprehensible in terms of duality. Since people distinguish only duality – with good occupying one pole and evil the other – they fall into the error of bringing together as “evil” all that we have learned over time to attribute to the Luciferic and Ahrimanic Principles. They do not recognize that they have brought together two universal elements. In this way the Luciferic element has been moved to the other pole, to the “good” pole. In other words, people believed to perceive and reverence the Divine, speaking of the Divine by name, when instead they were infusing in what they call “Divine” the Luciferic element. That is why it is so difficult for people today to arrive at a pure concept of God and the impulse of Christ in human and cosmic evolution. – Rudolf Steiner, “The Mission of Michael”, GA194, Dornach, November 22, 1919.

It follows that the redemption of the luciferic and ahrimanic element in the Double is the first step for the redemption of the luciferic and ahrimanic element outside of us, in the World. The facing and knowing of the Double is the only means for the knowledge of the objectivity of the spirits of the Obstacle, who must be recognized in the super-sensitive worlds. In this sense, the Double also presents itself as the Little Guardian of the Threshold, who in turn will have a Luciferic and an Ahrymanic aspect, having also a Christic aspect in the Great Guardian of the Threshold who protects the Devachan or Spiritual World.

The Double has been accumulating in the lower unconscious, before the I manifested itself in the 4th Septennium of Biography, i.e. from 21 to 28 years of age. The Double manifests itself more clearly in the moment in which the “I” becomes incarnated, thus separating the lower polarity of the Double from the upper polarity of the Guardian Angel, who will engage in a battle within the human being, finding themselves contending the”I” of man. In the first three seven years cycle, before the incarnated “I” arrives in the physical body, the Double manifests itself in a more indistinct way, fragmented with the other aspects of the physical, temperament and character that are gradually emerging. In the last three seven-year cycles, instead, the relationship with the Double becomes progressively more difficult, as it will depend on how the sentient soul, the rational soul and the conscious soul have been transmuted by the “I”: starting from the seven years cycle of the conscious soul, the 6th, the Double can take over if the “I” not strong enough to enlighten it progressively, bringing what is unconscious to what must now become conscious.

  1. The Luciferic Double enters around the age of 3, which represents the moment when the child says “I” to himself;

  2. The Ahrimanic Double enters around the age of 9, when one perceives one’s physical body distinctly.

The Double certainly contains in itself evil aspects, which are derived from Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences during growth, however without the Double we could in no way connect to the physical world and matter.

In this sense, we can define it more correctly:

  1. Double: the lower pole of the Power, of the Past is the lower unconscious;

  2. Guardian Angel: superior pole of Wisdom, of the Future, is the superior unconscious, the super-conscious.

  3. Incarnating “I”: it stands in the center between the two, and must draw power from the Double in order to fulfill his destiny.

As long as the “I” does not cross the Threshold, the unconscious is an indistinct whole, whether superior or inferior. The moment the “I” crosses the Threshold it should be able to see in the super-sensitive worlds and distinguish between the Guardian Angel and the Double, that is, between the lower and upper unconscious.

The Ahrimanic Double

In Steiner’s words:

What I’m going to say now must be followed very carefully, because it’s a very important communication. When, through birth, a human being enters earthly existence with a physical body, even though he or she has the possibility of giving an existence to his or her soul, he or she does not know his or her physical body with all the processes that take place there and of which he or she knows nothing. It happens therefore, that shortly before birth, in addition to our soul, another spiritual being takes possession of our body, of the subconscious part of our body: shortly before birth we are penetrated by another being that today we will call, according to our terminology, an Ahrymanic spiritual being. It is in us in the same way as our soul. These entities, which owe their life on Earth precisely to the fact that they use men to be in the sphere in which they want to be, these entities have an extraordinarily high intelligence and a will developed to a very high degree, but no feelings, not what we define as human feeling. In the nineteenth century, science discovered that the nervous system is crisscrossed by electrical energy, and in this it was right. For electric currents are the forces that are inserted into our nature by the being now described; they do not belong to our nature at all: we carry within us electric currents that are of a purely ahrimanic nature. These beings decided one day, solely by their own will, that they did not intend to live in the world to which they had been destined by the wisdom-filled gods of the highest hierarchies. They wanted to conquer the Earth, but they needed bodies and used human ones. From a certain moment before birth, these entities can therefore accompany themselves to us, in a certain sense within our bodies, under the threshold of our consciousness. There is only one thing they cannot bear about human life: death! That is why they must leave the body in which they have dwelt, before they fall, before death. It is a bitter disappointment that always repeats itself; in fact they would like to achieve precisely this goal: to remain, to remain in the human body beyond death. It would be a coveted achievement in the realm of these entities, but they have not yet achieved it. If there had not been the Mystery of Golgotha, if Christ had not passed through the Mystery of Golgotha, those entities would have already long ago conquered on Earth the possibility of remaining in man even when he finds the death predetermined by Karma. Then they would have brought victory in human evolution on Earth: they would have become the lords of evolution. There are occult brotherhoods that have long been aware of the things of which I have just spoken, have known them well and have hidden them from humanity in order to increase their selfish power, but humanity aspires to a knowledge that belongs to everyone and that is spread. – Rudolf Steiner, GA178, “The Mystery of the Double”.

The Little Guardian of the Threshold

When man, in the course of life or the initiatory path, finds himself at the Threshold of the Overly Sensitive Worlds, he meets his Double who shows himself as Little Guardian of the Threshold, who must be confronted and redeemed through the connection with Michael and Christ.

Lucifer, on the other hand, allows one to evade the Guardian by accessing the super-sensitive worlds without being purified in the astral body, thus trapping us in his “Belt of Illusion,” that is, the part of the lower Astral World over which he has dominion, between the Sphere of Mercury and Venus. Ahriman instead allows us to deny the Guardian, preventing us from access to the super-sensitive worlds and keeping us bound to the Earthly sphere. At the moment when we shun the Guardian through Lucifer or deny him through Ahriman, the Double conquers the possibility of substituting the “I”, which therefore, in the long run, can also move away from the body in which it is incarnated.

If the Double is forced back into the unconscious, for example through a strong religious upbringing, it tries to break through the defences by being able to drive out the I and take possession of the body. In the most extreme cases this is what is considered “demonic possession”. The Double, as has already been said, is not at all unitary, but on the contrary, “his name is Legion,” that is, when the Double replaces the I in the incarnation, the most varied spirits of the Obstacle have access to it.

The Double must therefore be addressed, creating a dialogue with it, in which the Double must finally enslave the fulfillment of individual karma within the context of the karma of the family, the nation and humanity. In other words, we must draw on the power of the Double by keeping it in balance with the other polarity, the Guardian Angel, who in turn are kept in balance by means of the connection between the I and Michael, the bearer of Libra, and through him, Christ. The progressive redemption of the Double, from incarnation to incarnation, is therefore an integral part of our journey of spiritual evolution.

The Three Fiends

As can be clearly seen in the first stained-glass window on the left of the triptych of the Red Stained-Glass Window of the Goetheanum, the Guardian of the Threshold appears first of all in the form of the three Fiends, which in turn have a relationship with the three Fiends encountered by Dante at the beginning of the Divine Comedy, in the First Song of Hell, the Impediments to Return to God.

  1. Doubt of the True, the shadow of Thinking, is like a monstrous bird, unable to fly. It is a thought incapable of grasping spiritual ideas; therefore, they are thoughts that remain entirely connected with the earthly sphere and thus become transient and mortal. Dante represents Fear with the agile Lonza, Lust, whose action is always mixed with the elements of the earthly sphere, represented by the stains of the fur, until it is no longer possible to recognize the truth.

  2. Fear of Beauty, the shadow of Feeling, is like a humanoid pervaded by his most infamous emotions who yearns only to satisfy his lower selfish nature. Satisfaction of whim produces the illusion that matter is sufficient for itself and thus provokes derision of the spiritual world. Dante represents Fear with the mighty Leo, Pride, which imposes itself on everything that is manifested in the tenderness of feelings.

  3. Hatred of the Good, the shadow of the Will, is like a being composed only of vermiform bones and without limbs, who does not want to know what is good for society, that is, the maximum openness to the spiritual world combined with the representation of the totality of society. Dante represents Hatred with the voracious and restless She-wolf, Avarice or Cupidity, which swallows everything and makes it similar to itself, without ever satiating itself.

Finally, there is a fourth Fiend, the Beast, which results from the combination of the three previous Fiends and which appears in the Red Stained Glass, at the bottom of the central window, and which is fought by the Archangel Michael. The Beast is composed of Doubt, Fear and Hate and in itself is more than any Fiend taken individually: in a certain sense we could say that this is the Beast that lives in man, the Double or Shadow, with its dual component Luciferic and Ahrimanic. Doubt in thinking generates Fear in feeling and when there is fear of something then arises Hatred in wanting the object of fear.

The Center of Destruction

In the Ancient Mysteries, especially in Ancient Ireland, Hibernia, knowledge about how the Double could take possession of the I was cultivated. The I is connected with the ability to form memories in the etheric body, the so-called “Mirror of Memory”, in essence the I preserves the memory of experiences in the etheric body, elaborating the substance. However, this capacity of memory preservation is closely connected to the capacity of destruction of matter: the capacity of thought arises by pervading the etheric body with forces of thought arising from the I, however, these in turn act by placing the matter of the physical body in a chaotic state first and then destroying it. In other words, beyond the Mirror of Memory, there is a Center of Destruction, which acts so that the I, the human spirit, can express itself in thought. However, the two are linked to the point that if the Center of Destruction did not destroy matter, the I could not configure thoughts. If the spirit is to exist, matter must be destroyed. It follows that man possesses within himself the capacity to destroy; where the I goes to create in reality as the “Center of Creation”, the Center of Destruction functions as an anti-I, capable of destruction. There is therefore this relationship between the poles present in the quadripartite occult constitution:

Higher pole:

  1. I, “Center of Creation“, source of the memory

  2. astral body

Lower pole:

  1. etheric body, “Memory Mirror

  2. physical body

Sub-physical Plane:

  1. Center of Destruction

The path of Initiation leads first of all to recognize the existence of this Center of Destruction. Such a center of destruction is functional to the spirit as long as it remains within the confines of the human being. Therefore, the balance between creation, preservation and destruction is necessary so that the spirit can express itself even in the physical world and so that matter can be sublimated in the spiritual world. This relationship therefore exists:

  1. Creation: I, creator of memory;

  2. Preservation: etheric body or Mirror of Memory;

  3. Destruction: Center of Destruction.

However, since the I is fully incarnated in man, that is, in the 5th Post-Atlantic Era, the possibility has arisen for this Centre of Destruction to act also outside man, in the world.

In the words of Steiner:

What would happen if men were not guided by Spiritual Science to this awareness? In the developments of our time we can already see what would happen. This isolated center in man and which should only function within him, at the one point within man, where matter is thrown into chaos, now breaks in and penetrates human instincts. This is what will happen to Western civilization; yes, and to the civilization of the whole earth. This is demonstrated by all the destructive forces that appear today, for example in Eastern Europe. It is a fury of destruction driven by man’s inner being in the outer world; and in the future man will be able to find his bearings in relation to what penetrates his instincts in this way only when a true knowledge of the human being once again prevails, when we become aware once again of this Centre of Destruction within man – a centre, however, which must be present for the development of human thought. For this power of thought that man needs in order to have a conception of the world in harmony with our time – this power of thought, which must be there in front of the mirror of memory, brings continuity of thought in the etheric body. And the etheric body so permeated by thought acts destructively on the physical body. This Center of Destruction within modern Western man is a fact, and knowledge merely draws attention to it. If the Center of Destruction is not recognized, it will be much worse than man will become fully aware of it, and from this conscious point of view it will enter into the development of modern civilization. – Rudolf Steiner, “The Evil and the Power of Thought”, GA207, September 23, 1921.

Consequently, when the Center of Destruction is not consciously recognized, it takes over and, from within man, is projected out into the world, causing its destruction. In other words, this is the Double or Shadow which takes over the conscious I. The chaos that serves to destroy matter and allow the I to express itself in thoughts is projected into the chaos that destroys the world and allows Evil to express itself in actions. The Double is therefore the door in man through which Evil, from the Abyss, penetrates the world. However, if instead of extending destruction to the outside we imbibe our inner void with ideals, this Center of Destruction, we allow new worlds to arise within ourselves – from nothing. The balance between the creation of the I and the Center of Destruction leads to the strengthening of the I, which alone on this Earth can experience the moral forces necessary for its future evolution.

The Redemption of the Guardian of the Threshold

Basically, it is our action together with that of the Archangel Michael that allows the redemption of the Little Guardian of the Threshold, who will then be able to return to the ranks of the Archangels and thus continue his evolution beyond the Future Venus. This is because Michael was the most evolved human being of the Ancient Sun just when the Guardians of the Threshold originated by regression: Michael therefore knows well the Little Guardian of the Threshold and, at the same time, leads to the Great Guardian of the Threshold, the Christ. Michael’s way of knowledge allows both the redemption of materialistic thinking and the forces of terrestrial heredity.

Therefore, Michael’s action allows both the Double Luciferic and the Ahrimanic to be redeemed.

  1. The Luciferic Double is overcame with the passage from the brotherhood of the blood to the spiritual one, overcoming the ties with the forces of the blood;

  2. The Ahrimanic Double is overcame with the vivification of thought, which from material becomes spiritual, from terrestrial becomes cosmic.

In this sense, overturning the usual perspective, we could say that, in fact, the Double goes to inhabit man to have the possibility of his own redemption, which is one of man’s tasks. Just as the Little Guardian is redeemed by man, the Great Guardian must be recognized by man as the Redeemer.

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