The Luciferic beings … strive for just the opposite of what the Ahrimanic beings desire. The Ahrimanic beings seek to free man together with the whole of earth-existence from the cosmic past and to conserve the earthly. The Luciferic beings strive to thrust away the earth, thrust away from man everything earthly and spiritualize him entirely, so that the forces of the earth cannot work upon him. They would like man to be purely a cosmic being, and would like the earth to fall away from evolution and be cast out into the universe.
Whereas Ahriman wants the earth to become an independent entity and man’s whole world, the Luciferic beings strive towards the opposite goal. They want the earth to be thrust away from humanity and humanity to be lifted into that realm where they themselves have their existence, the pure world of duration.
In order to attain this object the Luciferic beings seek perpetually to make the human intelligence automatic, they endeavor to crush down man’s free will. Should intelligence become purely automatic and the free will crushed, then with automatic intelligence and not with our own will, but the will of the gods, we should be able to accomplish what it fell to us to perform. We should become entirely cosmic beings.
That is the goal towards which the Luciferic beings strive. They endeavor to make us pure spirits, such as have cosmic intelligence in place of their own, spirits who have no free will, and whose thinking and acting run their course automatically, as among the Hierarchy of the Angels and to a great extent in the hierarchy of the Luciferic beings — but here in another respect. They wish to make us pure spirits and to cast away the earthly impulse. Moreover they want to create an intelligence for us which is entirely uninfluenced by any kind of brain and absolutely untouched by the interweaving of free will.
The beings who flock round Ahriman, the Ahrimanic beings, want on the contrary to cultivate most especially human intellect, to cultivate it to the extent of being increasingly dependent on the whole earth-existence. They want, moreover, to develop intensively man’s individual will — that is, precisely all that the Luciferic beings wish to repress. The Ahrimanic beings, or, expressed better, the spirits serving Ahriman, want to develop fully precisely this — we must take that definitely into account.
… Just consider: we as human beings, are actually standing in between these two conflicting aims of the spiritual worlds. And in a certain sense we have the task as man so to live our life in the world that we follow neither Ahriman nor Lucifer but find an equilibrium between the two currents.
Ahriman would like to have laws; inscribe laws everywhere. And again human community-life is interwoven with the hatred of Lucifer against law and Ahriman’s sympathy for it — and one does not understand life if one does not understand it as a dualism. Ahriman likes all that is outer form, that can stiffen; Lucifer likes — the Luciferic beings like — all that is formless, that dissolves form, becomes fluid and flexible. By life itself one must learn to create the balance between the wanting to stiffen and the becoming fluid.
[T]here below is Ahriman who would let everything grow rigid, there above is Lucifer who wishes to spiritualize everything; both, however, must remain invisible, for in the world of Maya only the wave-ripples may appear. Woe if Ahriman or Lucifer should themselves press into what desires to be life!
(“Eternal and Transient Elements: The Cosmic Past of Humanity and the Mystery of Evil,” Dornach, Switzerland from 6 September to 13 October 1918)
If we consider the turbulence of recent years, we will find that it has been caused in particular by Ahrimanic powers. Like the incarnation of Lucifer at the beginning of the third millennium BC, and the Christ incarnation at the time of the mystery of Golgotha, there will be an incarnation in the west of the being of Ahriman in the third millennium AD, sometime after our current life on earth has ended. We only properly comprehend the course of history and human evolution over almost six millennia, if we see it in these terms a Luciferic incarnation at one pole, the Christ incarnation in the middle of this period, and the incarnation of Ahriman at the other pole.
Lucifer is the power in us which stirs up all quixotic and fervent powers, all false mysticism, all that seeks to elevate us arrogantly beyond our actual capacities. In a sense, it brings our blood into chaotic disorder, in order to lift us out of ourselves. Ahriman, on the other hand, is the power that makes a person prosaic, hard-headed, philistine, that ossifies us and persuades us of the illusory truth of materialism. Basically, our human nature is the effort to maintain equilibrium between the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic power. And in modern times, the Christ impulse aids us in creating this balance or equilibrium. These two poles are always present in us: the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic.
Now it is intrinsic to such things that they are long prepared beforehand. Just as Lucifer once appeared in human form in China, and Christ Jesus appeared in human form in the near east, so Ahrimanic powers are preparing human evolution in a way that will allow humanity to succumb to Ahriman when he eventually appears in human form in western civilization, which will scarcely any longer be civilization as we know it. There is no use entertaining illusions about such things. Ahriman will appear in human form. All that will matter is the degree to which he finds humankind prepared for his arrival, whether his preparations will enable him to enlist all humanity, all civilization as we know it, to follow his dictates, or whether he will find a humanity that can offer him resistance.…
Ahriman, hoping that his incarnation will be as fruitful as possible for him, is most keenly interested in human beings perfecting this illusory science, which more or less accounts for all science today, but without them realizing that it is illusory. Ahriman has the very greatest interest in teaching people mathematics, but without them seeing that mathematical and mechanical views of the cosmos are mere illusion. He has the very greatest interest in teaching humanity chemistry, physics, biology, and so forth, which figure in our culture as greatly admired disciplines. But to make us believe too that they embody absolute truths, rather than partial aspects, photographs, if you like, from only one viewpoint…
Ahriman has the profoundest interest in concealing from humanity the fact that modern intellectual and rationalist science, with its cradle of empiricism, is a great illusion. He would secure supreme triumphant success if he could succeed in perpetuating, into the third millennium, these scientific superstitions so prevalent everywhere today, which even dictate the terms of social science. Born then as a human being, he would rejoice to find these scientific superstitions living within western civilization.
Keeping humankind locked in its scientific superstitions is one of the means employed by Ahriman to make his incarnation as effective as possible. The other means, a second means, is to encourage everything that divides people today, sunders them into small cliques and groupings at odds with one another. In the political arena, we can see this clearly today in all the parties and factions. If we study this phenomenon with an open mind, we can see that these parties feuding with each other cannot be explained by mere differences in human nature.… Here it is very clear that non-sensory powers, Ahrimanic powers have been exerting their influence. And these harmonic powers are at work wherever disharmonies between groups of people arise.
(Problems of Society: An Esoteric View: From Luciferic Past to Ahrimanic Future CW 193, 10 lectures by Rudolf Steiner, held in Zurich, Bern, Heidenheim and Berlin between 4 February and 4 November 1919.)