Sunday, August 31, 2014

Deeds, Not Words

"At the Day of Judgment we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done."
Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Of a pure mind and simple intention. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 2, Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Of a pure mind and simple intention

By two wings is man lifted above earthly things, even by
simplicity and purity. Simplicity ought to be in the intention,
purity in the affection. Simplicity reacheth towards God, purity
apprehendeth Him and tasteth Him. No good action will be
distasteful to thee if thou be free within from inordinate
affection. If thou reachest after and seekest nothing but the
will of God and the benefit of thy neighbour, thou wilt entirely
enjoy inward liberty. If thine heart were right, then should
every creature be a mirror of life and a book of holy doctrine.
There is no creature so small and vile but that it showeth us the
goodness of God.
If thou wert good and pure within, then wouldst thou look upon
all things without hurt and understand them aright. A pure heart
seeth the very depths of heaven and hell. Such as each one is
inwardly, so judgeth he outwardly. If there is any joy in the
world surely the man of pure heart possesseth it, and if there is
anywhere tribulation and anguish, the evil conscience knoweth it
best. As iron cast into the fire loseth rust and is made
altogether glowing, so the man who turneth himself altogether
unto God is freed from slothfulness and changed into a new man.
When a man beginneth to grow lukewarm, then he feareth a
little labour, and willingly accepteth outward consolation; but
when he beginneth perfectly to conquer himself and to walk
manfully in the way of God, then he counteth as nothing those
things which aforetime seemed to be so grievous unto him.

Recommended edition: 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Follow peace with all men, and holiness

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord"  — Hebrews 12:14  

How good it is to be peaceful. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 2, Chapter 3

Rudolf Steiner

Chapter 3: How good it is to be peaceful

First keep thyself in peace, and then shalt thou be able to be a
peacemaker towards others. A peaceable man doth more good than a
well-learned. A passionate man turneth even good into evil and
easily believeth evil; a good, peaceable man converteth all
things into good. He who dwelleth in peace is suspicious of
none, but he who is discontented and restless is tossed with many
suspicions, and is neither quiet himself nor suffereth others to
be quiet. He often saith what he ought not to say, and omitteth
what it were more expedient for him to do. He considereth to
what duties others are bound, and neglecteth those to which he is
bound himself. Therefore be zealous first over thyself, and then
mayest thou righteously be zealous concerning thy neighbour.
Thou knowest well how to excuse and to colour thine own deeds,
but thou wilt not accept the excuses of others. It would be more
just to accuse thyself and excuse thy brother. If thou wilt that
others bear with thee, bear thou with others. Behold how far
thou art as yet from the true charity and humility which knows
not how to be angry or indignant against any save self alone.
It is no great thing to mingle with the good and the meek, for
this is naturally pleasing to all, and every one of us willingly
enjoyeth peace and liketh best those who think with us: but to
be able to live peaceably with the hard and perverse, or with the
disorderly, or those who oppose us, this is a great grace and a
thing much to be commended and most worthy of a man.
There are who keep themselves in peace and keep peace also
with others, and there are who neither have peace nor suffer
others to have peace; they are troublesome to others, but always
more troublesome to themselves. And there are who hold
themselves in peace, and study to bring others unto peace;
nevertheless, all our peace in this sad life lieth in humble
suffering rather than in not feeling adversities. He who best
knoweth how to suffer shall possess the most peace; that man is
conqueror of himself and lord of the world, the friend of Christ,
and the inheritor of heaven.

Recommended edition: 

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever."

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats which have not profited them that have been occupied therein."  — Hebrews 13:8-9

Friday, August 29, 2014

God Appears

"I am the light of the world"

God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

—William Blake

"I am the light of the world"


A Portrait of the Anthroposophist as Prince Charming

Anthroposophy is the redemption of wisdom through compassionate love.

Rudolf Steiner:  "If we encounter someone and are filled with wonder and awe, then we are seeking to understand them. Through understanding a person's being we arrive at the virtue of brotherly love, and we can best actualize this virtue if we have approached people with awe. Then we shall see that awe is something that we must bring toward every person. If we do this, we will come to be ever more truthful. We will feel an obligation toward truth. We will sense ourselves drawing closer to the spiritual world, and through knowing this world we shall reacquire the spiritual wisdom that has sunk into the unconscious realms of the soul."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

Anthroposophia: the organ of perception for apocalypse, for revelation

Plate 1

"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." —Romans 5:5

Rudolf Steiner, September 5, 1924
The Book of Revelation and the Work of the Priest, lecture 1]:

Thus in those ancient Mysteries, in times when the cosmic language, not the human language, was current among human beings, people sought to make contact with the gods who then descended into the Mysteries and who on each occasion made holy once more the act of consecration of man. On each occasion, too, an understanding of apocalyptic things was bestowed upon the human beings who celebrated the act of consecration of man. This is how the great truths were taught in those ancient times when being in the midst of the act of consecration of man meant being filled with apocalyptic substance. The act of consecration of man is the path of knowledge; apocalypse, revelation, is the content of the holy knowledge.

Now we come to the semi-ancient Mysteries, those Mysteries of which at least a faint shimmer remained in historical times. (Of those that I have described as the ancient Mysteries nothing historical remains; they can be researched only by spiritual science.) The time had come when the gods withdrew from human beings and no longer descended into the Mysteries with their own being; but they continued to send down their forces. It was the time when the act of consecration of man was to receive through the Transubstantiation that shining light of the divine that was intended always to illumine the act of consecration of man.

The Transubstantiation was now no longer accomplished through learning from astrological observation of cosmic processes about which substances and forces should flow into the celebration of the Transubstantiation. Now the secret was sought in a different way. The inner nature especially of what the old alchemists called 'leavens' was taken up. A leavening agent is a substance that has reached a specific age while having gone through various stages of bringing about transformations in other substances without changing its own substance. To make an everyday comparison we need only think of how bread is baked. The principle is the same. You save a small piece of your previous batch of dough and add it to the new batch as a leavening agent. Imagine how in the semi-ancient Mysteries age-old substances, having retained their own inner substantiality through the ages while other substances were undergoing transformation, were stored in holy vessels that were themselves ancient and holy objects, venerable objects in the Mysteries.

From these ancient vessels were taken the substances that were the leavening agents with which the Transubstantiation of the old, still holy alchemy was performed. People in those days knew: The initiated priest understands the transformation, the Transubstantiation taking place through the forces preserved in the substances; he knows that they send forth sun-radiance in the holy quartz-crystal vessels. What was looked for in them, the reason they were needed, was that they were seen to be the celebrant's organ of perception for apocalypse, for revelation.

The following was something that took place in those semi-ancient Mysteries: The priest was tested at the moment when he approached the holy place and the ancient leavening agents began to transform the substances in the holy quartz-crystal vessels in such a way that he could see in those vessels how the substances sent forth sun-radiance. The vessel containing the little sun was a monstrance. It was a Host such as can only be recreated in imitation nowadays. The moment when he saw the sun-radiance of the Host was the moment in which he became a priest in his inner being. (Plate 1)

Nowadays in the Catholic church, everyone going to church sees the consecrated Host, for now it is no more than a symbol for what it once was. In those days, however, only those individuals were genuine priests who beheld the consecrated Host in that they saw a sun-radiance in the substances that had been preserved. At such a moment their knowing was open to receive that which is apocalyptic.

"The Holy Longing" by Goethe

The words inscribed on the Holy Grail:  Die and Become

Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.
In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.
Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.
Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.

Of lowly submission. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 2, Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Of lowly submission

Make no great account who is for thee or against thee, but mind
only the present duty and take care that God be with thee in
whatsoever thou doest. Have a good conscience and God will defend
thee, for he whom God will help no man’s perverseness shall be
able to hurt. If thou knowest how to hold thy peace and to
suffer, without doubt thou shalt see the help of the Lord. He
knoweth the time and the way to deliver thee, therefore must thou
resign thyself to Him. To God it belongeth to help and to
deliver from all confusion. Oftentimes it is very profitable for
keeping us in greater humility, that others know and rebuke our
When a man humbleth himself for his defects, he then easily
pacifieth others and quickly satisfieth those that are angered
against him. God protecteth and delivereth the humble man, He
loveth and comforteth the humble man, to the humble man He
inclineth Himself, on the humble He bestoweth great grace, and
when he is cast down He raiseth him to glory: to the humble He
revealeth His secrets, and sweetly draweth and inviteth him to
Himself. The humble man having received reproach, is yet in
sufficient peace, because he resteth on God and not on the world.
Reckon not thyself to have profited in anywise unless thou feel
thyself to be inferior to all.

Recommended edition: 

"Do this in remembrance of me"

I Corinthians 11:24-25 
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We have Christ; what we lack is the Sophia of Christ

"A theosophy that does not provide the means of understanding Christianity is absolutely valueless to our present civilization."  — Rudolf Steiner

The Four Seasons and the Four Platonic Virtues. Focus lecture for this evening's meeting of The Olive Branch, a Rudolf Steiner Study Circle

Diagram I

The cycle of the year; Michaelmas, the festival of human courage; the four Platonic Virtues

The Cycle of the Year as Breathing Process of the Earth. Lecture 5 of 5.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, April 4, 1923:

I should like to carry to a still wider horizon the reflections I have already made here concerning the relationship between man and the cycle of Nature which was formed in ancient times under the influence of the Mysteries, and to go into what was believed in those times with regard to all that one as man received from the cosmos through this cycle of Nature. You may have gathered from yesterday's lecture as well perhaps as from the recollection of much that I could still say about such matters during the past Christmas season, in the Goetheanum which has now been taken from us — you may have gathered that the cycle of the year in its phenomena was perceived, and indeed today can still be perceived, as a result of life, as something which in its external events is just as much the expression of a living being standing behind it as the actions of the human organism are the manifestations of a being, of the human soul itself.
Let us remind ourselves how, in midsummer, the time we know as St. John's, the people became aware under this ancient Mystery-influence of a certain relationship to their ego, an ego which they did not yet consider as exclusively their own, but which they viewed as resting still in the bosom of the divine-spiritual.
These people believed that by means of the ceremonies I have described, they approached their “I” at midsummer, although throughout the rest of the year it was hidden from them. Of course they thought of themselves as dwelling in their beings altogether in the bosom of the divine-spiritual; but they thought that during the other three-quarters of the year nothing was revealed to them of what belonged to them as their ego. Only in this one quarter, which reached its high point at St. John's, did the essential being of their own ego manifest itself to them as through a window opening out of the divine-spiritual world.
Now, this essence of the individual ego within the divine-spiritual world in which it revealed itself was by no means regarded in such a neutral, indifferent — one may even say phlegmatic — way as is the case today. When the “I” is spoken of today, a person is hardly likely to think of it as having any special connection either with this world or any other. Rather, he thinks of his “I” as a kind of point; what he doesrays out from it and what he perceives rays in. But the feeling a person has today in regard to his “I” is of an altogether phlegmatic nature. We cannot really say that modern man even feels the “egoity” of his “I” — in spite of the fact that it is his ego; for anyone who wants to be honest cannot really claim that he is fond of his “I.” He is fond of his body; he is fond of his instincts; he may be fond of this or that experience. But the “I” is just a tiny word which is felt as a point in which all that has been indicated is more or less condensed. But in that period in which, after long preparations had been made, the approach to this “I” was undertaken ceremonially, each man was enabled in a certain sense to meet his “I” in the universe. Following this meeting, then, the “I” was perceived to be once more gradually withdrawing and leaving the human being alone with his bodily and soul nature, or as we would say today, with his physical-etheric-astral being. In that period man felt the “I” perceptively as having a real connection with the entire cosmos, with the whole world.
But what was felt above all else with regard to the relationship of this “I” to the world was not something “naturalistic,” to use the modern term; it was not something received as an external phenomenon. Rather, it was something which was deemed to be the very center of the most ancient moral conception of the world. Men did not expect great secrets of Nature to be revealed to them at this season. To be sure, such Nature secrets were spoken of, but man did not direct his attention primarily to them. Rather, he perceived through his feeling that above all he was to absorb into himself as moral impulse what is revealed at this time of midsummer when light and warmth reach their highest point.
This was the season man perceived as the time of divine-moral enlightenment. And what he wanted above all to obtain from the heavens as “answer” to the performances of music, poetry, and dancing that were carried on at this season, what he waited for, was that there should be revealed out of the heavens in all seriousness what they required of him morally.
And when all the ceremonies had been carried out that I described yesterday as belonging to the celebration of these festivals during the time of the Sun's sultry heat — if it sometimes happened that a powerful storm broke forth with thunder and lightning, then just in this outbreak of thunder and lightning men felt the moral admonition of the heavens to earthly humanity.
There are vestiges from this ancient time in conceptions such as that of Zeus as the god of thunder, armed with a thunderbolt. Something similar is linked with the German god Donar. This we have on one side. On the other side, man perceptively felt Nature, I might say, as warm, luminous, satisfied in itself. And he felt that this warming, luminous Nature as it was during the daytime remained also into the night time. Only he made a distinction, saying to himself: “During the day the air is filled with the warmth-element, with the light-element. In these elements of warmth and light there weave and live spiritual messengers through whom the higher divine beings want to make themselves known to men, want to endow them with moral impulses. But at night, when the higher spiritual beings withdraw, the messengers remain behind and reveal themselves in their own way.”
And thus it was that especially at midsummer people perceived the ruling and weaving of Nature in the summer nights, in the summer evenings. And what they felt then seemed to them to be a kind of summer dream which they experienced in reality; a summer dream through which they came especially near to the divine-spiritual; a summer dream by which they were convinced that every phenomenon of Nature was at the same time the moral utterance of the gods, but that all kinds of elemental beings were also active there who revealed themselves to men in their own way.
All the fanciful embellishment of the midsummer night's dream, of the St. John's night dream, is what remained later of the wondrous forms conjured by human imagination that wove through this midsummer time on the soul-spiritual level. This then, in all particulars, was taken to be a divine-spiritual moral revelation of the cosmos to man.
And so we may say that the conception underlying this was: at midsummer the divine-spiritual world revealed itself through moral impulses which were implanted in man as Enlightenment (see diagram). And what was felt in a quite special way at that time, what then worked upon man, was felt to be something super-human which played into the human order of things.

Diagram I

From his inner participation in the festivities celebrated in that time, man knew that he was lifted up above himself as he then was into the super-human, and that the Deity grasped the hand that man as it were reached toward him at this season. Everything that man believed to be divine-spiritual within him he ascribed to the revelations of this season of St. John's.
When the summer came to an end and autumn approached, when the leaves were withered and the seeds had ripened, when, that is, the full luxurious life of summer had faded and the trees become bare, then, because the insights of the Mysteries had flowed into all these perceptions, man felt: “The divine-spiritual world is withdrawing again from man.” He notices how he is directed back to himself; he is in a certain sense growing out of the spiritual into Nature.
Thus man felt this “living-into” the autumn as a “living-out-from” the spiritual, as a living into Nature. The tree leaves became mineralized; the seeds dried up and mineralized. Everything inclined in a certain way toward the death of Nature's year.
In being thus interwoven with what was becoming mineral on the Earth and around the Earth, man felt that he himself was becoming woven together with Nature. For in that period man still stood closer in his inner experience to what was going on outside. And he also thought,about, he pondered in his mind about, how he experienced his being woven-together with Nature. His whole thinking took on this character. If we want to express in our language today what man felt when autumn came, we should have to say the following — I beg you, however, to realize that I am using present-day words, and that in those days man would not have been able to speak thus, for then everything rested on perceptive feeling and was not characterized through thinking — but if we want to speak in modern terms we shall have to say: With his particular trend of thinking, with his feeling way of perceiving, the human being experienced the transition from summer to autumn in such a way that he found in it a passing from spirit-knowledge to Nature-knowledge (see diagram). Toward autumn man felt that he was no longer in a time of spirit-knowledge but that autumn required of him that he should learn to know Nature. Thus at the autumn equinox we have,instead of moral impulse, knowledge of Nature, coming to know Nature.
The human being began to reflect about Nature. At this time also he began to take into account the fact that he was a creature, a being within the cosmos. In that time it would have been considered folly to present Nature-knowledge in its existing form to man during the summer. The purpose of summer is to bring man into relation with the spiritual in the world. With the arrival of what we today call the Michaelmas season, people said to themselves: “By everything that man perceives about him in the woods, in the trees, in the plants, he is stimulated to pursue nature-knowledge.” It was the season in which men were to occupy themselves above all with acquiring knowledge, with reflection. And indeed it was also the time when outer circumstances of life made this possible. Human life thus proceeded from Enlightenment to Knowledge. It was the right season for knowledge, for ever-increasing cognition.
When the pupils of the Mysteries received their instruction from the teachers, they were given certain mottoes, of which we find adaptations in the maxims of the Greek sages. The “seven maxims” of the Seven Wise Men of Greece are, however, not actually those which originated in the primeval Mysteries.
In the very earliest Mysteries there was a saying associated with midsummer: “Receive the Light” (see diagram). By “Light,” spiritual wisdom was meant. It designated that within which the human being's own “I” shone.
For autumn (see diagram), the motto imprinted in the Mysteries as an admonition pointing to what should be carried on by the souls was: “Look around thee.”
Now there approached the next development of the year, and with it, what man felt within himself to be connected of itself with this year. The season of winter approached. We come to midwinter (see diagram), which includes our Christmas time. Just as the human being in midsummer felt himself lifted out above himself to the divine-spiritual existence of the cosmos, so he felt himself in midwinter to be unfolding downward below himself. He felt as if the forces of the Earth were washing around him and carrying him along. He felt as though his will nature, his instincts and impulses, were infiltrated and permeated by gravity, by the force of destruction and other forces that are in the Earth. In these ancient times people did not feel winter as we feel it, that it merely gets cold and we have to put on warm boots, for example, in order not to get chilled. Rather, a man of that ancient time felt what was coming up out of the Earth as something that united itself with his own being. In contrast to the sultry, light-filled element, he felt what came up then in winter as a frosty element. We feel the chilliness today, too, because it is connected with the corporeality; but ancient man felt within his soul as a phenomenon accompanying the cold: darkness and gloom. He felt somewhat as if all around him, wherever he went, darkness rose up out of the Earth and enveloped him in a kind of cloud — only up to the middle of his body, to be sure, but this is the way he felt.
And he said to himself — again I have to describe it in more modern words — man said to himself: “During the height of summer I stand face to face with Enlightenment; then the heavenly, the super-terrestrial, streams down into the earthly world. But now the earthly is streaming upward.” — Man already perceived and experienced something of the earthly during the autumnal equinox. But what he perceived and felt then of earthly nature was in conformity in a certain sense with his own nature; it was still connected with him. We might say: “At the time of the autumn equinox man felt in his Gemuet, in his realm of feeling, all that had to do with Nature. But now, in winter, he felt as though the Earth were laying claim to him, as if he were ensnared in his will nature by the forces of the Earth. He felt this to be the denial of the moral world order. He felt that together with the blackness that enveloped him like a cloud, forces opposed to the moral world order were ensnaring him. He felt the darkness rise up out of the Earth like a serpent and wind him about. But at the same time he was also aware of something quite different.”
Already during autumn he had felt something stirring within him that we today call intellect. Whereas in summer the intellect evaporates and there enters from outside a wisdom-filled moral element, during autumn the intellect is consolidated. The human being approaches evil but his intellect consolidates. Man felt an actual serpent-like manifestation in midwinter, but at the same time the solidification, the strengthening of shrewdness, of the reflective element, of all that made him sly and cunning and incited him to follow the principle of utility in life. All this he was aware of in this way. And just as in autumn the knowledge of nature gradually emerged, so in midwinter the Temptation of Hell approached the human being, the Temptation on the part of Evil. Thus he was aware of this. So when we write here: “Moral impulse, Knowledge of Nature” (see diagram), here (at midwinter) we must write “Temptation through Evil.”
This was just the time in which man had to develop what in any case was within him by way of Nature: everything associated with the intellect, slyness, cunning, all that was directed toward the utilitarian. This, man was to overcome through Temperance (Besonnenheit).* This was the season then in which man had to develop — not an open sense for wisdom, which in accordance with the ancient Mystery wisdom had been required of him during the time of Enlightenment, but something else. Just in that season in which evil revealed itself as we have indicated, man could experience in a fitting way resistance to evil: he was to become self-controlled (besonnen — see preceding footnote). Above all else at the season of change which he passed through in moving on from Enlightenment to Cognition, from Knowledge of Spirit to Knowledge of Nature, he was to progress from Nature knowledge to the contemplation of Evil (see diagram, arrow on left). This is the way it was understood.

* The third of the cardinal or “Platonic” virtues, called in Greek Sophrosyne, in English, Temperance or moderation, in German is Besonnenheit. According to Steiner, Besonnenheit is “enfilling one's impulses with the degree of consciousness possible.” “A man who rules his impulses through reflective thinking, feeling, and perceiving is a man who is ‘besonnen.’” (From Das Raetsel des Menschen, 6th August, 1916). See also Spiritual Foundation of Morality by Steiner.

And in giving instructions to the pupils of the Mysteries which could become mottoes, the teachers said to them — just as at midsummer they had said: “Receive the Light,” and in autumn “Look around you” — now in midwinter it was said: “Beware of Evil.” And it was expected that through “Temperance,” through this guarding of oneself against evil, men would come to a kind of self-knowledge which would lead them to realize how they had deviated from the moral impulses in the course of the year.
Deviation from the moral impulses through the contemplation of evil, its overcoming through moderation — this was to come to man's consciousness just in the time following midwinter. Hence in this ancient wisdom all sorts of things were undertaken that induced men to atone for what they recognized as deviations from the moral impulses they had received through Enlightenment. With this, we approach spring, the spring equinox (see diagram).
And just as here (see diagram: midsummer, autumn, midwinter) we have Enlightenment, Cognition, Temperance, so for the spring equinox we have what was perceived as the activity of repentance. And in place of Cognition, and correspondingly, Temptation through Evil, there now entered something which we could call the Return — the reversion — to man's higher nature through Repentance. Where we have written here (see diagram: midsummer, autumn, winter): Enlightenment, Cognition, Temperance, here we must write: Return to Human Nature.
If you look back once more to what was in the depths of winter the Temptation by Evil, you will have to say: At that time man felt as though he were lowered into the abysmal deeps of the Earth; he felt himself entrapped by Earth's darkness. Just as during the height of summer man was in a sense torn out of himself, his soul-nature being then lifted up above him, so now, in order not to be ensnared by Evil during the winter, his soul-being made itself inwardly free

Through this there existed, during the depths of winter, I might say a counter-image to what was present during the height of summer. At midsummer the phenomena of Nature spoke in a spiritual way. People sought especially in the thunder and the lightning for what the heavens had to say. They looked at the phenomena of Nature, but what they sought in these phenomena was a spiritual language. Even in small things, they sought at St. John's-tide the spiritual message of the elemental beings, but they looked for it outside themselves. They dreamed in a certain sense outside the human being. During the depths of winter, however, people sank into themselves and dreamed within their own being. To the extent that they tore themselves loose from the entanglement of the Earth, that is, whenever they could free their soul-element, they dreamed within their own being. Of this there has remained what is connected with the visions, with the inner beholding, of the Thirteen Nights following the winter solstice. Everywhere recollections have remained of these ancient times. You can look on the Norwegian Song of Olaf [Åsteson]* as a later development of what existed quite extensively in ancient times.

* Because of Rudolf Steiner's lectures referring to “The Dream Song of Olaf Åsteson” (December 26, 1911 and January 7, 1913), this unique poem of initiation experience has been translated into English.

Then the springtime drew near. In our time the situation has shifted somewhat; in those days spring was closer to winter, and the whole year was viewed as being divided into three periods. Things were compressed. Nevertheless what I am sharing with you here was taught in its turn. Thus, just as at midsummer they said: “Receive the light;” and in autumn, at Michaelmas: “Look around you”; just as at midwinter, at the time that we celebrate Christmas, they said: “Beware of the Evil,” so for the time of return they had a saying which was then thought to have effect only at this time: “Know thyself” — placing it in exact polarity to the Knowledge of Nature.
“Beware of the Evil” could also be expressed: “Beware, draw back from Earth's darkness.” But this they did not say. Whereas during midsummer men accepted the external natural phenomenon of light as Wisdom, that is, at midsummer they spoke in a certain way in accordance with Nature, they would never have put the motto for winter into the sentence: “Beware of the darkness” — for they expressed rather the moral interpretation: “Beware of Evil.”
Echoes of these festivals have persisted everywhere, so far as they have been understood. Naturally everything was changed when the great Event of Golgotha entered in.
It was in the season of the deepest human temptation, in winter, that the birth of Jesus occurred. The birth of Jesus took place in the very time when man was in the grip of the Earth powers, when he had plunged down, as it were, into the abysses of the Earth. Among the legends associated with the birth of Jesus, you will even find one which says that Jesus came into the world in a cave, thus hinting at something that was perceived as wisdom in the most ancient Mysteries, namely, that there the human being can find what he has to seek in spite of being held fast by the dark element of the Earth, which at the same time holds the reason for his falling prey to Evil.
It is in accord with all of this, too, that the time of Repentance is ascribed to the season when spring is approaching.
The understanding for the midsummer festival has quite naturally disappeared to a still greater extent than that for the other side of the year's course. For the more materialism overtook mankind, the less people felt themselves drawn to anything such as Enlightenment.
And what is of quite special importance to present-day humanity is precisely that time which leads on from Enlightenment, of which man still remains unconscious, toward the season of autumn. Here lies the point where man, who indeed has to enter into knowledge of nature, should grasp in the nature-knowledge a picture, a reflection, of a knowledge of divine spirits. For this there is no better festival of remembrance than Michaelmas.
If this is celebrated in the right way, it must follow that mankind everywhere will take hold of the question: How is spirit knowledge to be found in the glorified nature-knowledge of the present? How can man transform nature-knowledge so that out of what the human being possesses as the fruits of this nature-knowledge, spirit knowledge will arise? In other words, how is that to be overcome which, if it were to run its course on its own, would entrap man in the subhuman? 

A turnaround must take place. The Michael festival must take on a particular meaning. This meaning emerges when one can perceive the following: Natural science has led man to recognize one side of world evolution — for example, that out of lower animal organisms higher, more perfect, ones have evolved in the course of time, right up to man; or, to take another example, that during the development of the embryo in the mother's body the human being passes through the animal forms one after the other. That, however, is only one side. The other side is what comes before our souls when we say to ourselves: “Man had to evolve out of his original divine-human beginning.” If this (see drawing) indicates the original human condition (lighter shading), then man had to evolve out of it to his present state of unfoldment. First, he had gradually to push out of himself the lower animals, then, stage by stage what exists as higher animal forms. He overcame all this, separated it out, thrust it aside (darker shading). In this way he has come to what was originally predestined for him.

Diagram II

It is the same in his embryonic development. The human being rejects, each in its turn, everything that he is not to be. We do not, however, derive the real import of present-day nature-knowledge from this fact. What then is the import of modern nature-knowledge? It lies in the sentence: You behold in what nature-knowledge shows you that which you need to exclude from knowledge of man.
What does this imply? It implies that man must study natural science. Why? When he looks into a microscope he knows what is not spirit. When he looks through a telescope into the far spaces of the universe, there is revealed to him what spirit is not. When he makes some sort of experiment in the physics or chemistry laboratory, what is not spirit is revealed to him. Everything that is not spirit is manifest to him in its pure form.
In ancient times when men beheld what is today nature, they still saw the spirit shining through it. Today we have to study nature in order to be able to say: “All that is not spirit.” It is all winter wisdom. What pertains to summer wisdom must take a different form. In order that man may be spurred toward the spirit, may get an impulse toward the spirit, he must learn to know the unspiritual, the anti-spiritual. And man must be sensible of things that no one as yet admits today. For example, everyone says today: “If I have some sort of tiny living creature too small to be seen with the naked eye and I put it under a microscope, it will be enlarged for me so that I can see it.” — Then, however, one must conceive: “This size is illusory. I have increased the size of the creature, and I no longer have it. I have a phantom. What I am seeing is not a reality. I have put a lie in place of the truth!” — This is of course madness from the present-day point of view, but it is precisely the truth.
If we will only realize that natural science is needed in order from this counter-image of the truth to receive the impulse toward the truth, then the force will be developed which can be symbolically indicated in the overcoming of the Dragon by Michael.
But something else is connected with this which already stands in the annals in what I might call a spiritual way. It stands there in such a form, however, that when man no longer had any true feeling for what lives in the year's changing seasons, he related the whole thing instead to the human being. What leads to “Enlightenment” was replaced by the concept of “Wisdom” [called “Prudence” in English practice]; then what leads to “Knowledge” was replaced by the concept of “Courage” [“Fortitude”]; “Temperance” stayed the same; and what corresponded to “Repentance” was replaced by the concept “Justice.”
Here you have the four Platonic concepts of virtue: Wisdom [Prudence], Fortitude, Temperance, Justice. What man had formerly received from the life of the year in its course was now taken into man himself. It will come into consideration just in connection with the Michaelmas festival, however, that there will have to be a festival in honor of human courage, of the human manifestation of the courage of Michael. For what is it that holds man back today from spirit-knowledge? — Lack of soul courage, not to say soul cowardice. Man wants to receive everything passively, wants to set himself down in front of the world as if it were a movie, and wants to let the microscope and the telescope tell him everything. He does not want to temper the instrument of his own spirit, of his own soul, by activity. He does not care to be a follower of Michael. This requires inner courage. This inner courage must have its festival in Michaelmas. Then from the Festival of Courage, from the festival of the inwardly courageous human soul, there will ray out what will give the other festivals of the year also the right content.
We must in fact continue the path further; we must take into human nature what was formerly outside. Man is no longer in such a position that he could develop the knowledge of Nature only in autumn. It is already so that in man today things lie one within the other, for only in this way can he unfold his freedom. Yet it nevertheless holds true that the celebrating of festivals, I might say in a transformed sense, is again becoming necessary.
If the festivals were formerly festivals of giving by the divine to the earthly, if man at the festivals formerly received the gifts of the heavenly powers directly, so today, when man has his capacities within himself, the metamorphosis of the festival-thought consists in the festivals now being festivals of remembrance or admonition.* In them man inscribes into his soul what he is to consummate within himself.

Feste der Erinnerungen (a plural form). Erinnerung has two shades of meaning. One is “recollection” or “remembrance”; the other “admonition” or “reminder.” Both elements seem to apply in this passage.

And thus again it will be best to have as the most strongly working festival of admonition and remembrance this festival with which autumn begins, the Michaelmas festival, for at the same time all Nature is speaking in meaningful cosmic language. The trees are becoming bare; the leaves are withering. The creatures, which all summer long have fluttered through the air, as butterflies, or have filled the air with their hum, as beetles, begin to withdraw; many animals fall into their winter sleep. Everything becomes paralyzed. Nature, which through her own activity has helped man during spring and summer — Nature, which has worked in man during spring and summer, herself withdraws. Man is referred back to himself. What must now awaken when Nature forsakes him is courage of soul. Once more we are shown how what we can conceive as a Michael festival must be a festival of soul-courage, of soul-strength, of soul-activity.
This is what will gradually give to the festival thought the character of remembrance or admonition, qualities already suggested in a monumental saying by which it was indicated that for all future time what previously had been festivals of gifts will become, or should become, festivals of remembrance. These monumental words, which must be the basis of all festival thoughts, also for those which will arise again — this monumental saying is: “This do in remembrance of Me.” That is the festival thought which is turned toward the memory-aspect.
Just as the other thought that lies in the Christ-Impulse must work on livingly, must reform itself and not be allowed simply to remain as a dead product toward which we look back, so must this thought also work on further, kindling perceptive feeling and thought, and we must understand that the festivals must continue in spite of the fact that man is changing, but that because of this the festivals also must go through metamorphoses.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Transubstantiation

Rudolf Steiner: "We are approaching an age when we shall once again see how the spirit lives in the earthly realm; we shall see how the spiritual processes at work in the Transubstantiation will once again be able to appear before the souls of human beings. Especially in the Transubstantiation there will appear the earthly reflection of what has taken place in heavenly regions in such a way that what has happened since the middle of the Atlantean period is but a small section of everything that is connected with the Being of Christ. Then one will understand how a metamorphosis such as that taking place in the Transubstantiation becomes possible when one regards what is today physical and chemical as merely an episode, and when one relates the Transubstantiation to something entirely other than what is seemingly material.... The Christ is present in the Transubstantiation and he will be more and more present to human beings. "


The Cycle of the Year and the Human Being

Diagram IV

The Cycle of the Year as Breathing Process of the Earth. Lecture 4 of 5.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, April 3, 1923:

I have frequently referred recently to the connection the course of the year has with various aspects of human life, and during the Easter days I pointed especially to the connection with the celebration of festivals. Today I should like to go back to very ancient times and say more on this subject, just in relation to the ancient Mysteries. This can perhaps deepen in one way or another what we have spoken of before.
To the people of very ancient periods on Earth, the festivals that took place during the year formed a very significant part of their lives. We know that in those ancient times the human consciousness worked in an entirely different way from that of later times. We might ascribe a somewhat dreamy nature to this old form of consciousness. And indeed it was out of this dream condition that those insights arose in the human soul, in the human consciousness, which then took on the form of myths and in fact became mythology.
Through this dreamy — or we can also say instinctively clairvoyant — consciousness people saw more deeply into the spiritual environment. But precisely through this more intensive kind of participation — not just in the sensible workings of Nature, as is the case today, but also in the spiritual events — people were all the more involved with the phenomena connected with the cycle of the year, with the differing aspects of Nature in spring and in autumn. I have pointed to this just in recent days.
Today I want to share something entirely different with you in this regard, and that is, how the festival of Midsummer, which has become our St. John's festival, and the Midwinter festival, which has become our Christmas, were celebrated in connection with the old Mystery teachings. To begin with, we must be quite clear that the humanity of the ancient times of which we are speaking did not have a full ego-consciousness, as we do today. In the dreamlike consciousness, a full ego-consciousness was lacking; and when this is the case, people do not perceive precisely that which present-day humanity is so proud of. Thus the people of that period did not perceive what existed in dead nature, in the mineral nature.
Let us keep this firmly in mind, my dear friends: It was not a consciousness that flowed along in abstract thoughts, but it lived in pictures; yet it was dreamlike. These people entered into, for example, the sprouting, burgeoning plant-life and plant-nature in spring far more than is the case today. Again, they felt the shedding of the leaves, their drying up in autumn, the whole dying away of the plant world; felt deeply also the changes the animal world lived through during the course of the year; felt the whole human environment to be different when the air was filled with butterflies fluttering and beetles humming. They felt their own human weaving in a certain way as being alongside the weaving and being of the plants and animal existence. But they not only had no interest in, they had no proper consciousness for, the mineral realm, for the dead world outside them. This is one side of the earlier human consciousness.
The other side is this: that no interest existed among this ancient humanity for the form of man in general. It is very difficult today to imagine what the human perception was in this regard, that people in general took no particular interest in the human figure as a space-form. They had, however, an intense interest in what pertains to race. And the farther back we go into ancient cultures, the less do we find people with the common consciousness interested in the human form. On the other hand, they were interested in the color of the skin, in the racial temperament. This is what people noticed. On the one side man was not interested in the dead mineral world, nor, on the other, in the human form. There was an interest, as we have said, in what pertains to race, rather than in the universally human, including the outer form of man.
The great teachers of the Mysteries simply accepted this as a fact. How they thought about it, I will show you graphically in a drawing. They said to themselves: “The people have a dreamlike consciousness by means of which they perceive very clearly the plant life in their environment.” — In their dream-pictures these people indeed lived with the plant life; but their dream consciousness did not extend to the comprehension of the mineral world. So the Mystery teachers said to themselves: “The human consciousness reaches on the one side to the plant life [see drawing], which is dreamily experienced, but not to the mineral; this lies outside human consciousness. And on the other side, men feel within them what still binds them with the animal world, that is, what pertains to race, what is typical of the animal. [See drawing]. On the other hand, what makes man really man, his upright form, the space form of his being, lies outside of human consciousness.”
Thus, the specifically human lay outside the interest of these people of ancient times. We can characterize the human by thinking of it, in the sense of this ancient humanity, as enclosed within this space [shaded portion in drawing], while the mineral and the specifically human lay outside the realm of knowledge generally accessible to those people who carried on their lives outside the Mysteries.

Diagram I

But what I have just said applies only in general. With his own forces, with what man experienced in his own being, he could not penetrate beyond this space [see drawing], to the mineral on the one side, to the human on the other. But there were ceremonies originating in the Mysteries which brought to man in the course of the year something approximating the human ego-consciousness on the one side and the perception of the general mineral kingdom on the other.
Strange as it may sound to people of the present time, it is nevertheless true that the priests of the ancient Mysteries arranged festivals by whose unusual effects man was lifted out above the plant-like to the mineral, and thereby at a certain time of year experienced a lighting up of his ego. It was as if the ego shone into the dream-consciousness. You know that even in a person's dreams today, one's own ego, which is then seen, often constitutes an element of the dream.
And so at the time of the St. John's festival, through the ceremonies that were arranged for those among the people who wanted to take part in them, ego-consciousness shone in just at the height of summer. And at this time of midsummer people could perceive the mineral realm at least to the extent necessary to help them attain a kind of ego-consciousness, whereby the ego appeared as something that entered into dreams from outside. In order to bring this about, the participants in the oldest midsummer festivals — those of the summer solstice which have become our St. John's festival — the participants were led to unfold a musical-poetic element in round dances having a strong rhythmic quality and accompanied by song. Certain presentations and performances were filled with distinctive musical recitative accompanied by primitive instruments. Such a festival was completely immersed in the musical-poetic element. What man had in his dream-consciousness he poured out into the cosmos, as it were, in the form of music, in song and dance.
Modern man can have no true appreciation of what was accomplished by way of music and song during those intense and widespread folk festivals of ancient times, which took place under the guidance of men who in turn had received their guidance from the Mysteries. For what music and poetry have come to be since then is far removed from the simple, primitive, elemental form of music and poetry which was unfolded in those times at the height of summer under the guidance of the Mysteries. For everything the people did in performing their round-dances, accompanied by singing and primitive poetic recitations, had the single goal of bringing about a soul mood in which there occurred what I have just called the shining of the ego into the human spirit.
But if those ancient people had been asked how they came to form such songs and such dances, by means of which there could arise what I have described, they would have given an answer highly paradoxical to modern man. They would have said, for example: “Much of it has been given to us by tradition, for those who went before us have also done these things.” But in certain ancient times they would have said: “One can learn these things also today without having any tradition, if one simply develops further what manifests itself. One can still learn today how to make use of instruments, how to form dances, how to master the singing voice” — and now comes the paradox in what these ancient people would have said. They would have said: “It is learned from the songbirds.” — For they understood in a deep way the whole import of the songbirds' singing.
My dear friends, mankind has long ago forgotten why the songbirds sing. It is true that men have preserved the art of song, the art of poetry, but in the age of intellectualism in which the intellect has dominated everything, they have forgotten the connection of singing with the whole universe. Even someone who is musically inspired, who sets the art of music high above the commonplace, even such a man, speaking out of this later intellectualistic age, says: “I sing as the bird sings who dwells in the branches. The song that issues from my throat is my reward, and an ample reward it is.” Indeed, my dear friends, the man of a certain period says this. The bird, however, would never say such a thing. He would never say: “The song that issues from my throat is my reward.” And just as little would the pupils of the ancient Mystery schools have said it. For when at a certain time of year the larks and the nightingales sing, what is thereby formed streams out into the cosmos not through the air, but through the etheric element; it vibrates outward in the cosmos up to a certain boundary... then it vibrates back again to Earth, to be received by the animal realm — only now the divine-spiritual essence of the cosmos has united with it.
And thus it is that the nightingales and the larks send forth their voices into the universe (red) and that what they thus send forth comes back to them etherically (yellow), for the time during which they do not sing;

Diagram II

but in the meantime it has been filled with the content of the divine-spiritual. The larks send their voices out over the cosmos, and the divine-spiritual, which takes part in the forming — in the whole configuration — of the animal kingdom, streams back to the Earth on the waves of what had streamed out in the songs of the larks and the nightingales.
Therefore if anyone speaks not from the standpoint of the intellectualistic age, but out of the truly all-encompassing human consciousness, he really cannot say: “I sing as the bird sings who dwells in the branches. The song that issues from my throat is my reward, and an ample reward it is.” Rather, he would have to say: “I sing as the bird sings who dwells in the branches. And the song which streams forth from his throat into the cosmic expanses returns to the Earth as a blessing, fructifying the earthly life with divine-spiritual impulses which then work on in the bird world and which can only work in the bird world because they find their way in on the waves of what has been ‘sung out’ to them into the cosmos.”
Now of course not all creatures are nightingales and larks; also of course not all of them send out song; but something similar, even though it is not so beautiful, goes out into the cosmos from the whole animal world. In those ancient times this was understood, and therefore the pupils of the Mystery-pupils were instructed in such singing and dancing as they could then perform at the St. John's festival, if I may call it by the modern name. Human beings sent this out into the cosmos, of course not now in animal form, but in humanized form, as a further development of what the animals send out into cosmic space.— And there is something else yet that belonged to those festivals: not only the dancing, the music, the song, but afterward, the listening. First, there was the active performance in the festivals; then the people were directed to listen to what came back to them. For through their dances, their singing, and all that was poetic in their performances, they had sent forth the great questions to the divine-spiritual of the cosmos. Their performance streamed up, as it were, into cosmic spaces as the water of the earth rises, forming clouds above and dropping down again as rain. Thus, the effects of the human festival performances arose and came back again — of course not as rain, but as something which manifested itself to man as ego-power. And the people had a sensitive feeling for that particular transformation which took place in the air and warmth around the Earth just about the time of the St. John's festival. Of course the man of the present intellectualistic age disregards anything like this. He has something else to do than people of olden times. In these times, as also in others, he has to go to five o'clock teas, to coffee parties; he has to attend the theater, and so on; he simply has something else to do which is not dependent on the time of year. In the doing of all this, man forgets that delicate transformation which takes place in the Earth's atmospheric environment.
But these people of olden times did feel how different the air and warmth become around St. John's time, at the height of summer, how these take on something of the plant nature. Just consider what kind of a perception that was — this sensitive feeling for all that goes on in the plant world. Let us suppose that this is the Earth, and everywhere plants are coming out of the Earth.

Diagram III

The people then had a subtle feeling awareness of what is developing there in the plant, of what lives in the plant. They had in the spring a general feeling of nature, of which an after-echo is still retained in our language. You will find in Goethe's Faust the expression “es gruenelt” (It is beginning to get green). Who notices nowadays when it is growing green, when the greenness, rising up out of the Earth in the spring, wells and wafts through the air? Who notices when it grows green and when it blossoms? Well, of course people see it today; the red and the yellow of the flowers please them; but they do not notice that the air becomes quite different when the flowers bloom, and again when the fruit is formed. Such living participation in the plant world no longer exists in our intellectualistic age, but it did exist for the people of ancient times.
Hence they were aware of it in their perceptive feeling when the “greening,” blooming, and fruiting came toward them — not now out of the Earth, but out of the surrounding atmosphere; when air and warmth themselves streamed down from above like something akin to plant nature (shaded in drawing). And when air and warmth became thus plant-like, the consciousness of those people was transported into that sphere in which the “I” then descended, as answer to what they had sent out into the cosmos in the form of music and poetry.
Thus the festivals had a wonderful, intimate, human content. This was a question to the divine-spiritual universe. Men received the answer because — just as we perceive the fruiting, the blossoming, the greening of the Earth today — they felt something plant-like streaming down from above out of the otherwise merely mineral air. In this way there entered into the dream of existence, into the ancient dreamy consciousness, also the dream of the ego.
And when the St. John's festival was past and July and August came again, the people had the feeling “We have an ego, but this ego remains up there in heaven and speaks to us only at St. John's time. Then we become aware that we are connected with heaven. It has taken our ego into its protection. It shows it to us when it opens the great window of heaven at St. John's time. But we must ask about it. We must ask as we carry out the festival performances at St. John's time, as in these performances we find our way into the unbelievably close and intimate musical and poetic ceremonies.” — Thus these ancient festivals already established a communication, a union, between the earthly and the heavenly.
You see this whole festival was immersed in the musical, in the musical-poetic. I might say that in the simple settlements of very ancient peoples, suddenly, for a few days at the height of summer, everything became poetic — although it had been thoroughly prepared beforehand by the Mysteries. The whole social life was plunged into this musical-poetic element. The people believed that they needed this for life during the course of the year, just as they needed daily food and drink; that they needed to enter into this mood of dancing, music, and poetry, in order to establish their communication with the divine-spiritual powers of the cosmos. A relic of this festival remained in a later age, when a poet said, for example; “Sing, O Muse, of the wrath of Achilles, the son of Peleus,” because he still remembered that once upon a time the great question was put before the deity, and the deity was expected to give answer to the question of men.
Just as these festivals at St. John's time were carefully prepared in order to pose the great question to the cosmos so that the cosmos might assure man at this time that he has an ego, which the heavens have taken into their protection, so likewise was prepared the festival at the time of the winter solstice, in the depths of winter, which has now become our Christmas festival. But while at St. John's time everything was steeped in the musical-poetic, in the dance element, now in the depths of winter everything was first prepared in such a way that the people knew they must become still and quiet, that they must enter into a more contemplative element. And then there was brought forth — in these ancient times of which outer history provides no record, of which we can only know through spiritual science — all that during the summer had been in the forming and shaping and imaging elements which reached a climax in the festivals in music and dance. During that time these ancient people, who in a certain way went out of themselves in order to unite with the ego in the heavens, were not involved in learning anything. Besides the festival, they were occupied in doing what was necessary for their subsistence. Instruction waited for the winter months, and this reached its culmination, its festival expression, at the time of the winter solstice, in the depth of winter, at Christmas time.
Then began the preparation of the people, again under the guidance of pupils of the Mysteries, for various spiritual celebrations which were not performed during the summer. It is difficult to describe in modern terms what the people did from our September/October to our Christmas time, because everything was so very different from what is done now. But they were guided in what we would perhaps call riddle-solving, in answering questions that were put in a veiled form so that people had to discover a meaning in what was given in signs. Let us say that the Mystery-pupils gave to those who were learning in this way some kind of symbolic image, which they were to interpret. Or they gave what we would call a riddle to be solved, or some kind of incantation. What the magic saying contained, they were to apply to Nature, and thus divine its meaning.
But especially there was careful preparation for what later took on the most varied forms among the different peoples; for example, for what was known in northern countries at a later time as the throwing of the runic wands so that they formed shapes which were then deciphered. People devoted themselves to these activities in the depth of winter; but above all, those things were cultivated that then led to a certain art of modeling, in a primitive form, of course.
Among these ancient forms of consciousness was a most singular one, paradoxical as it sounds to modern people, and it was as follows: With the coming of October, an urge for some sort of activity began to stir in people's limbs. In the summer a man had to accommodate the movements of his limbs to what the fields demanded of him; he had to put his hands to the plough; he had to adapt himself to the outer world. When the harvest had been gathered in, however, and his limbs were rested, then a need stirred in them for some other form of activity, and his limbs took on a longing to knead. Then people derived a special satisfaction from all kinds of plastic, moulding activity. We might say that just as an intensive urge had arisen at the time of the St. John's festival for dancing and music, so toward Christmas time an intensive urge arose to knead, to mould, to create, using any kind of pliant substance available in nature. People had an especially sensitive feeling, for example, for the way water begins to freeze. This gave them the specific impulse to push it in one direction and another, so that the ice-forms appearing in the water took on certain shapes. Indeed people went so far as to keep their hands in the water while the shapes developed and their hands grew numb! In this way, when the water froze under the waves their hands cast up, it assumed the most remarkable artistic shapes, which of course again melted away.
Nothing remains of all this in the age of intellectualism except at most the custom of lead-casting on New Year's Eve, the Feast of St. Sylvester. In this, molten lead is poured into water, and one discovers that it takes on shapes whose meaning is then supposed to be guessed. But that is the last abstract remnant of those wonderful activities that arose from the impelling force in Nature experienced inwardly by the human being, which expressed itself for example as I have related: that a person thrust his hand into water which was in process of freezing, the hand then becoming numb as he tested how the water formed waves, so that the freezing water then “answered” with the most remarkable shapes. In this way the human being found the answers to his questions of the Earth. Through music and poetry at the height of summer, he turned toward the heavens with his questions, and they answered by sending ego-feeling into his dreaming consciousness. In the depth of winter he turned for what he wanted to know not now toward the heavens, but to the earthly, and he tested what kind of forms the earthly element can take on. In doing this he observed that the forms which emerged had a certain similarity to those developed by beetles and butterflies. This was the result of his contemplation. From the plastic, formative element that he drew out of the nature processes of the Earth, there arose in him the intuitive observation that the various animal forms are fashioned entirely out of the earthly element. At Christmas man understood the animal forms. And as he worked, as he exerted his limbs, even jumped into the water and made certain movements, then sprang out and observed how the solidifying water responded, he noticed in the outer world what sort of form he himself had as man. But this was only at Christmas time, not otherwise; at other times he had a perception only of the animal world and of what pertains to race. At Christmas time he advanced to the experience of the human form as well.
Just as in those times of the ancient Mysteries the ego-consciousness was mediated from the heavens, so the feeling for the human form was conveyed out of the Earth. At Christmas time man learned to know the Earth's form-force, its sculptural shaping force; and at St. John's time, at the height of summer he learned to know how the harmonies of the spheres let his ego sound into his dream-consciousness.
And thus at special festival seasons the ancient Mysteries expanded the being of man. On the one side the environment of the Earth extended out into the heavens, so that man might know how the heavens held his “I” in their protection, how his “I” rested there. And at Christmas time the Mystery teachers caused the Earth to give answer to the questioning of man by way of plastic forms, so that man gradually came to have an interest in the human form, in the flowing together of all animal forms into the human form. At midsummer man learned to know himself inwardly, in relation to his ego; in the depth of winter he learned to feel himself outwardly, in relation to his human form. And so it was that what man perceived as his being, how he actually felt himself, was not acquired simply by being man, but by living together with the course of the year; that in order for him to come to ego-consciousness, the heavens opened their windows; that in order for him to come to consciousness of his human form, the Earth in a certain way unfolded her mysteries. Thus the human being was inwardly intimately linked with the course of the year, so intimately linked that he had to say to himself: “I know about what I am as man only when I don't live along stolidly, but when I allow myself to be lifted up to the heavens in summer, when I let myself sink down in winter into the Earth mysteries, into the secrets of the Earth.”
You see from this that at one time the festival seasons with their celebrations were looked upon as an integral part of human life. A man felt that he was not only an earth-being but that his essential being belonged to the whole world, that he was a citizen of the entire cosmos. Indeed he felt himself so little to be an earth-being that he actually had first to be made aware of what he was through the Earth by means of festivals. And these festivals could be celebrated only at certain seasons because at other times the people who experienced the course of the year to some degree would have been quite unable to experience it at all. For all that the people could experience through the festivals was connected with the related seasons.
Mark you, after man has once achieved his freedom in the age of intellectualism, he can certainly not come again to this sharing in the life of the cosmos in the same way that he experienced it in primitive ages. But he can nevertheless come to it even with his modern constitution, if he applies himself once more to the spiritual.
We might say that in the ego consciousness which mankind has had for a long time now, something has been drawn in which could be attained only through the windows of heaven in summer. But just for that reason man must be learning to understand the cosmos, acquire for himself something else which in turn lies beyond the ego. It is natural today for people to speak of the human form in general. Those who have entered into the intellectual age no longer have a strong feeling for the animalistic-racial element. But just as this feeling formerly came over man, I should like to say as a force, as an impulse, which could be sought only out of the Earth, so today, through an understanding of the Earth which cannot be gained by means of geology or mineralogy but only once more in a spiritual way, man must come again to something more than the mere human form.
If we consider the human form we can say: In very ancient times man felt himself within this form in such a way that he felt only the external racial characteristics connected with the blood, but failed to perceive as far as the skin itself (red in drawing); he did not notice what formed his outline.
Today man has come so far that he does notice his outline, his bodily limits. He perceives his contour indeed as the typically human feature of his form (blue). Now, however, man must come out beyond himself; he must learn to know the etheric and astral elements outside himself. This he can do only through the deepening of spiritual science.

Diagram IV

Thus we see that our present-day consciousness has been acquired at the cost of losing much of the former connection of our consciousness with the cosmos. But once man has come to experience his freedom and his world of thought, then he must emerge again and experience cosmically.
This is what Anthroposophy intends when it speaks of a renewal of the festivals, even of the creating of festivals like the Michael festival in autumn of which we have recently spoken. We must come once more to an inner understanding of what the cycle of the year can mean to man in this connection; it can then be something even loftier than it was for man long ago, as we have described it.