Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Celui qui voyage au Goetheanum au mois de novembre ne sait jamais d'avance quel temps il fera. Parfois, il neige; le plus souvent, c’est de la pluie qui accueille le visiteur; ou encore on peut trouver un ciel clair dont la lumière du soir, près de l'horizon, donne au bâtiment un air doux, voire tendre.
Mais chaque fois que je m'y rends en novembre, une ambiance de repos pénètre tout. Les feuilles sont déjà tombées ou sont sur le point de le faire. Des vaches paissent tranquillement sur le terrain du Goetheanum. La nature a épuisé ses forces, elle se recueille en vue de l'hiver qui approche, elle se repose maintenant. Elle offre ainsi une ambiance d'émerveillement qui ouvre de l'espace pour notre activité intérieure, nous les Secrétaires généraux qui sommes là pour nous réunir avec le Comité directeur et les responsables des Sections de l’École de Science de l’Esprit. J'aimerais vous présenter ici quelques-uns des nombreux sujets auxquels nous avons porté notre attention.
Troels Ussing, Secrétaire général pour le Danemark, a donné un compte rendu du travail anthroposophique présentement en cours en Uganda, en Tanzanie, et au Kenya. Près de 2500 élèves fréquentent des écoles Waldorf dans ces pays. Contre la toile de fond historique de l’exploitation pratiquée par les Européens avides d'esclaves, d'ivoire, de caoutchouc – et qui a amené la chute des royaumes africains cohérents – Troels a fait ressortir les ressemblances que l'on trouve entre les valeurs sociales des Africains et le geste social préconisé par l'anthroposophie. Même dans le contexte social d'une grande importance accordée à l'identité de groupe et à la responsabilité envers sa collectivité, le cheminement vers une plus grande conscience de l'individualité personnelle se fait jour chez l'Africain, bien que ce cheminement soit parfois ardu. Troels a fait remarquer que le cynisme et l'égotisme de l'Européen peuvent entraver le progrès de l'Africain dans ce sens. Et pourtant, il y a de l'excellent travail qui se fait, notamment dans les écoles Waldorf, travail rendu possible par la formation offerte par des collègues d'Afrique du Sud.
Dans le numéro de septembre de Anthroposophy Worldwide (no. 7) on trouve de bons articles sur le travail en Afrique et sur la manière dont la sensibilité de l'Africain parle à notre humanité universelle.
Une de nos rencontres a été entièrement consacrée à des rapports du Comité directeur et des responsables des Sections concernant le renouvellement du mandat de Bodo von Plato comme membre du Comité directeur. Depuis quelques années, l'on reconnaît que le statut de membre du Comité directeur ne doit pas être considéré comme étant un « poste à vie »; un membre doit être libre d'assumer d'autres tâches lorsqu'il reconnaît que son destin le lui demande. Parallèlement, si au bout d'un certain nombre d'années un membre décide de rester au sein du Comité, la décision de le faire devrait se prendre à la lumière d'une révision rétrospective de son travail, révision qui se fait après une période de sept à douze ans à compter du moment où l'individu est devenu membre du Comité directeur.
Dans sa réponse à cette révision, et en réaffirmant sa volonté de continuer comme membre du Comité directeur, Bodo nous a amenés sur le terrain des responsabilités qu'il a lui-même portées pendant son mandat. Une de ces responsabilités concerne les cours d'étude au Goetheanum (en langue allemande), comportant des modules pour des individus oeuvrant au sein de différentes professions (exemple : les banquiers). Au cours de ce travail, un nombre de questions ont fait surface pour lui : Comment développer dans la vie méditative une compétence spirituelle qui soit universellement humaine? Comment développer une recherche selon la Science de l’Esprit qui attire l'intérêt et qui mérite le respect de la science officielle? (Dans ce contexte, Bodo a fait la remarque que les pratiques spirituelles les plus courantes de notre époque sont plus éloignées de l'anthroposophie que ne l'est la science de la nature.) Et comment pouvons-nous façonner un langage susceptible d'exprimer cette activité que nous nous efforçons de développer?
Depuis quelques années, une grande partie de l'activité de Bodo von Plato a été consacrée à monter les Drames-Mystères de Rudolf Steiner dans une forme renouvelée. Dans les mots de Bodo von Plato, ces drames représentent « l’élément-cœur de l'anthroposophie »; leur présentation est une partie intégrante de la tâche du Goetheanum. Pourtant, les mettre en scène de manière à ce qu'ils portent vers l'avenir implique un élément de risque, à la fois spirituel et artistique. Et monter ces drames est une entreprise coûteuse. Des 1,100,100 francs suisses requis, il reste un montant de 185,000 CHF à combler, en plus des 800,000 CHF nécessaires pour financer 20 représentations de l'ensemble des quatre drames.
L'été prochain, les quatre Drames-Mystères seront présentés au Goetheanum du 29 juillet au 1er août. Il s'agit de la période précédant immédiatement la semaine de langue anglaise, qui se tiendra du 2 au 7 août. Les représentations se donneront en allemand avec, par l'intermédiaire de casques d'écoute, une interprétation simultanée du texte en anglais. Le thème de la semaine anglaise lui-même sera Entering into the 21st Century Spiritually. De plus amples renseignements sur les deux événements paraîtront au début de 2010.
Un troisième fil conducteur de nos rencontres était celui de la vie de la Société anthroposophique – fil qui a été au centre de chacune des réunions auxquelles j'ai assisté jusqu'à présent. La tâche de la Société anthroposophique est de cultiver la vie de l'âme dans l'individu et dans la société en se fondant sur une véritable connaissance du monde spirituel. Une telle société doit : affirmer la liberté spirituelle de chaque membre individuel; cultiver la confiance entre membres; rendre possible des rencontres et réunions entre membres grâce auxquelles le karma peut agir; travailler en vue d'une culture de paix rendue possible par la lutte intérieure personnelle livrée par chaque membre individuel au-dedans de lui-même; et être au service de l'humanité en conformité avec l'esprit de notre ère. La reconnaissance de ces gestes a résonné de multiples façons et à de multiples moments au cours de nos rencontres, et a été exprimée d'une manière particulièrement claire et précise lors d'une présentation de Paul Mackay.
Au cœur même de chacun de ces gestes se trouve notre conscience du seuil, élément essentiel à toute véritable connaissance de soi à notre époque. La conscience du seuil est ce qui nous différencie de beaucoup d'autres mouvements spirituels.
Depuis quelques années, j'en suis venu à reconnaître que le festival de l'Avent est en fait celui du Dévoilement du Seuil. La lumière du monde extérieur cède la place à l'obscurité pour qu'une autre lumière puisse briller. L'Avent nous incite à laisser aller la lumière extérieure, à permettre à l'obscurité de descendre. L'Avent nous invite à percer du regard cette obscurité et de percevoir ce devenir qui est ce que nous sommes en réalité.
C'est là une façon possible d'exprimer cette expérience. Les paroles qui suivent peuvent en représenter une autre, paroles écrites par David Zieroth, ami de longue date, ancien parent de l’École Waldorf de Vancouver, et lauréat du Prix de Poésie du Gouverneur Général pour l'année 2009.*
The light that breaks with fall
slants against our eye
eager to penetrate flesh,
proclaiming no other way except our own.
We are the winter residence of light.
(La lumière qui point avec l'automne
Darde ses rayons obliques contre notre œil
cherchant à pénétrer la chair,
proclamant nul autre chemin que le nôtre.
Nous sommes la demeure hivernale de la lumière.)
Mes meilleurs vœux pour l'Avent et pour les Nuits saintes,
*extrait de « Winter Residence », The Weight of My Raggedy Skin (Polestar, 1991)
Friday, December 4, 2009
- by Douglas Wylie
Daniel Hafner warmly welcomed John Alexandra and mentioned that Rudolf Steiner had indicated to the Christian Community priests that it was part of their task to bring the Three-folding social concepts into the world. The conference consisted of warm hearted lectures, thoughtful discussions and lively movements. Jonathan Snow provided us all with Eurthmy exercises which were simple enough but challenging in way of coordinating – both individually and together as a community. I had the pleasure of presenting Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on World Economy give to Economic University students in 1922.
John opened each lecture with a quote from Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural speech which brought to our awareness the karma working behind the social organism exemplified when one considers the gross injustices of war. Over the course of John’s very broad, nicely paced and stimulating lectures, he talked of the war time and parallels when Rudolf Steiner developed three-folding social concepts. The picture John brought compared the social organism of Culture, Politics (Rights) and Economy with the soul make up of the human being of Thinking (Head), Feeling (Lungs/Heart); and Willing (Metabolic). In one of the discussions he facilitated he brought to light that the correspondence between the Social organism and our Human organism is not so readily apparent.
John used the analogy of a “scrim” that is used in theatre, which both “hides and reveals” to illustrate how the countenance of the social organism does not show what is working behind it and he challenged us to become conscious of this behind-the-scenes Spirit. He also used the analogy of a seed, with huge inherent, yet unseen creative potential, growing to a finished “knowing”. This knowing is an”un-creating” because when something is known it is finished and the creative element ends just as the blossom is the end of the plant growth. Rudolf Steiner’s 3-folding ideas have this quality.
On Saturday John focused on Capital and money. He brought to focus the difference between industrial research, being relatively short lived compared to fundamental research, such as the development of Calculus that still produces today, for example. Both types of research arise from a sequence of events whereby no one individual can claim absolute ownership. As such the “free” capital produced ought to be seen and used towards culture, where it arose originally. It is especially important to direct such Capital towards early education to develop socially and culturally adept adults. Of course this is only a glimpse of the offering John presented.
I took the opportunity to talk on the World Economy lectures as a way to deepening my own understanding of Steiner’s work in this regard. I was pleased to hear that what I presented about the current economy with all its false concepts, and the exercise of putting Steiner’s diagram 5 into bodily movement, was well received. A very lively discussion and wonderful questions followed.
Furthering our understanding on Sunday morning, John brought a religious flavour as he talked wonderfully about money with references to Christ’s deeds and the Holy week. He introduced this by indicating the one can see the creative spirit working behind the storyies in the bible. The story becomes the “scrim” as mentioned above.
This event, which drew more than 65 participants was a great success and I took personal satisfaction in the fact that, as a new Council member for Anthroposophical Society in Canada, I was able to offer something of a long standing interest, practice and study to the community. The 3-fold social concepts that Rudolf Steiner brought towards a new consciousness tends towards the goals of the Anthroposophical Society of creating a caring of the soul that is not so prevalent in our current social world social. Thanks to John, Daniel and Ute Konig and the many others, especially Melanie Nason, as event coordinator, for bringing such a wonderful important experience to our community.
This post contains the full text of Vibeka's article. If you would like to see the photos as well, visit the AAATNA website. -Ed.
Our guest speaker, Regine Kurek, deliberately took off her Arscura hat and put on her AAATNA hat. This was necessary for her, since the conference took place at the studio of Arscura School for Living Art, also the home of The Christian Community north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Regine was one of the co-founders when AAATNA shifted from New York to Toronto, but she has not been part of the executive for some time.
Regine started the conference by reminding us how important it is for us to be proud of what we have to offer to the world through our Anthroposophic roots. Future recognition can arise out of people seeing us for what and who we are, rather than trying to fit in and “be like everybody else” in the art therapy community. On Friday afternoon we began with an artistic exercise, the instructions being to paint a picture of “me as a flower or tree in the landscape of Anthroposophy”. This very interesting process became the source of self assessment and insight as we listened to the parable from the bible of “The Sower of Seeds”. In this story we heard of four ways that the seeds were able to grow or not and used this image to see how we use the seeds of Anthroposophy in our life. To do this, we looked at our picture in small groups and helped each other to objectively “see” our roots, stems, blossoms or crowns in the landscape. After this we continued in the small groups and were asked to share with each other what we found accessible and “worked” for us and what is a challenge in Anthroposophy, as we meet it. These qualities we shared in the large group.
The shift in the room was amazing as we shared and one participant pointed out how a listening mood seemed to fill the room. Regine asked if perhaps the ‘Being of Anthroposophia’ had visited and become interested…..... Before we shared dinner together, we went back to our paintings to bring something new - a transformation. The paintings changed dramatically as we reviewed our relationship to Anthroposophy.
In the evening lecture, Regine brought us a picture of the heavenly hierarchies and their working in the world. We touched on the task and our relationship to our angel, but the main focus was on the Archangels and their interest in supporting us to develop a language for our work. Archangels want to support communities, especially groups of people who are teachers, therapists and reformers. Their guidance can help us to identify our work and how to work out of a spiritual source. She talked particularly about Michael who is also a time spirit since 1879 and wants to help us re-spiritualize our understanding of the work. We heard of the seven Archangels who guide human civilizations in 350 year segments. Four of those have a particular importance for us as art therapists.
After Michael we looked at Raphael and his special leadership for healers. The story of Tobias and his journey, became a healing journey for us. Finally, Gabriel, the one who announces to Mary that she will bear a child, was introduced with qualities of deep listening, caring and support. Mary hears all this and “keeps it in her heart”. This approach to healing is a very gentle, caring gesture. Uriel, the spirit of Mid-summer was touched on but might be the topic of a later seminar because of the cosmic nature of this archangel.
We took all this into our sleep and returned the next morning to a brief overview of the need for watercolour technique for therapeutic painting and also for the need to work less into the “astral body” but more into the “etheric”. The more physically ill or weak a person is, the less talk there should be so the colour can really do its work… We also were given a colour circle for breathing: Exhaling into spring (peach blossom) to summer (greens) and then inhaling into autumn (reds and golds) and winter (violets and blues).
The day now turned to quite another task: We had the honour of meeting someone who was willing to tell us her struggles with lifelong health issues. We recognized a real illness picture and now gathered into three groups for the next two intensive sessions. In the groups we had a facilitator and focused intensely on one stream, either Gabriel, Raphael or Michael. Each group worked with a story and then a picture, building a possible healing path through one particular gesture. We were “building the temple” into which we then invited our patient (imaginatively, in reality she had left the room).
After lunch we set out to paint a picture together as a group from this earlier conversation and study-preparation.
In the final sharing in the large group we then became witnesses for each others’ processes and realized just what an amazing and deep journey we each had experienced in our groups. Each group had worked through obstacles and difficulties in their painting process but come out with a picture and a message. By that time our “patient” rejoined us and was eager to listen to what was shared in the three groups about their painting process.
It was observed that we had a profound experience of being in the presence of spiritual guidance, that we were able to give something meaningful to another person who was carrying a destiny with life long health challenges and that we had reversed the therapy process by being the ones “doing the work”, offering it up and being changed on the way. The person who received the healing had a profound sense of awe in seeing her challenges as if from the outside and being able to become more objective.
In the end it was clear that we all felt “yes, we have work to do and we, as Anthroposophic Art Therapists have something very special to offer to the world”. An intense but profound and worthwhile experience was had by all. Thank you, Regine.
Looking to the future, Regine suggested that perhaps those of us who feel so inclined might consider taking up a research field from our work this year and that our next conference could be carried by members, bringing individual presentations, as well as inviting interested art therapists of other streams to our conference.
Some comments from participants:
- from Wendy Wardle, AAATNA member & conference participant:
“When I walked through the door and saw all the tables covered in white tablecloths, ready for dinner and through the other door more tables with carefully set out paints, sponges, and paintbrushes, I realized how much I had been looking forward to experiencing a conference led by Regine Kurek,. Everyone involved had worked so hard to create this atmosphere . What a welcome sight to see that they were expecting us and everything was ready. It was like entering a treasure trove. Talking with the other members during the breaks was a wonderful opportunity for us all to learn and share our experiences in the ‘wide world’. It was fascinating to hear how each of us had a different way in how we take this work out into the world. The gifts I received from the conference were an understanding of our relationship with the Archangels, a greater appreciation of Anthroposophy and the sure knowledge that a community of people, working together, can heal themselves and others. Thank you for the opportunity to experience this.”
- from Angela Smith, AAATNA Member & conference participant:
“The recent AAATNA conference was a wonderful opportunity to network and further develop my understanding of anthroposophical art therapy through the experience of a community art process . The facilitators did an excellent job leading us through the artistic exercises, and I personally found the experience very powerful. My thanks to the facilitators and organizers and especially to Regine Kurek for an informative and well organized conference.”
As Wendy said above, it was lovely to have time to socialize over two dinners and a lunch, and to hear what other people are doing in the world with the work. Two of the meals were catered at the Studio. On the Saturday evening we went for a truly creative meal, as you can see by the photos, at Jazireh, a local Persian restaurant.
If you travel to the Goetheanum in November, you can expect any kind of weather. Some times it snows; rain is always more than a possibility; other times the skies are clear and the evening light lies low to the horizon, giving the Goetheanum and its surroundings a gentle, even tender touch.
A mood that pervades every visit I have made in November is a mood of rest. The leaves have either fallen or are about to drop. Cattle graze contentedly on the Goetheanum grounds. Nature has spent herself, is gathering herself in toward the coming of winter and is now at rest—a wonderful mood that opens a space for the inner activity ahead for those of us who will meet for several days as General Secretaries, together with the Executive Council and the Section Leaders of the School for Spiritual Science. Among the considerations taken up this past November, I would like to bring the following items.
Troels Ussing, General Secretary for Denmark, reported on anthroposophical work underway in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. There are close to 2500 students attending Waldorf Schools in these three countries. Against the background of European penetration of the African continent in search of slaves, ivory and rubber, and the resulting collapse of coherent African kingdoms, Troels noted the similarities between the social ethos of Africans and the social gestures of anthroposophy. Within a strong emphasis upon group identity and responsibility, the journey toward a heightened sense of individual consciousness goes forward, although the journey can be a difficult one. Troels observed that European cynicism and egotism can hinder Africans along that path. Yet good work is being done, especially in the Waldorf Schools, with the support of teacher training carried by colleagues from South Africa.
The September issue of Anthroposophy Worldwide (No. 7) has some good articles on work in Africa and ways in which African sensibilities speak to our common humanity.
We spent one session receiving a report from the Executive Council and the Section Leaders on the renewal of Bodo von Plato’s role as a member of the Executive Council. In recent years there has been a recognition that membership on the Executive Council should not be regarded as a “life term”; members should be free to move on to other work if they recognize that such a destiny moment has come. Likewise, if a member stays on after a number of years, the decision to do so should be taken in the light of a review of that member’s work, within a period of seven to twelve years after one first joins the Executive Council.
In speaking to his review and to his willingness to continue as a member of Executive Council, Bodo led us into the areas of responsibility at the Goetheanum that he has been carrying. One area of responsibility concerns study opportunities in German at the Goetheanum, including study modules for those in various professions, e.g. for bankers. A number of questions arise for him along the way: How to develop in the meditative life a spiritual competence that is universally human? How to develop spiritual scientific research that can engage the natural science of today? (In this context, Bodo observed that the spiritual paths typical of today are farther removed from anthroposophy than is natural science) And how can we develop a language able to articulate this developing activity?
Over the past few years, much of Bodo von Plato’s activity has been devoted to staging Rudolf Steiner’s Mystery Dramas in a renewed form. These dramas are, in his words, the “heart piece of anthroposophy”; staging them is integral to the task of the Goetheanum. Carrying them into the future, however, requires an element of spiritual and artistic risk in staging them. Producing the dramas is also a costly endeavour financially. Of the 1,100,100 Swiss francs needed for the production thus far, 185,000 CHF remains to be raised, along with a further 800,000 CHF needed to fund twenty performances of all four dramas.
This coming summer the four Mystery Dramas will be performed at the Goetheanum from July 29th through August 1st, the days just preceding the English Week, from August 2nd through August 7th. The performances will be in German, with actors speaking a translation of the text into English through headphones. The theme of the English Week itself will be Entering into the 21st Century Spiritually. More information about both events will be coming early on in 2010.
A third thread that ran through our meetings concerned the life of the Anthroposophical Society—a thread that has been present in every General Secretaries’ meeting in which I have taken part. The task of the Anthroposophical Society is to nurture the life of the soul, in the individual and in society, based on a true knowing of the spiritual world. Such a society must affirm the spiritual freedom of each individual member; cultivate trust and confidence between members; make possible encounters and meetings of members through which karma can work; work toward a culture of peace out of each of us working through his or her inner battles; be at the service of humanity out of the spirit of our time. The recognition of the above gestures sounded in varied ways during our meetings and was brought in a particularly clear and succinct way in a presentation by Paul Mackay.
At the core of each of these gestures is our consciousness of the threshold, integral to a true knowing of ourselves in our time. The awareness of the threshold is what distinguishes us from many other spiritual paths.
In recent years I have come to recognize Advent as the Festival of the Unveiling of the Threshold. The light in the world without gives way to darkness, so that another light may shine forth. Advent encourages us to let go of the outer light, to let the darkness fall and then to gaze into and through that darkness to the becoming that is who we truly are.
That is one way of saying it. The words that follow could be another way, words by David Zieroth, a long-time friend, former parent of the Vancouver Waldorf School, and winner of the 2009 Governor General’s Award for Poetry*:
The light that breaks with fall
slants against our eye
eager to penetrate flesh,
proclaiming no other way except our own.
We are the winter residence of light.
With good greetings for Advent and the Holy Nights,
* From “Winter Residence”, The Weight of My Raggedy Skin (Polestar, 1991)
Friday, November 27, 2009
Glencolton Farms was formerly a privately owned farm of the Schmidt family and was established in 1983 to provide wholesome food to a rapidly growing market of informed consumers and put culture back in agriculture.
Agri-Cultural Renewal Co-operative Inc. (ARC) is a co-operative of workers established since 2004 united in diversifying the farm by integrating agriculture with culture and nature for the betterment of the land and its surrounding community. Glencolton Farms and ARC have amalgamated. Therefore, Glencolton Farms is now owned and operated by the worker owners of ARC.
The Agri-cultural Renewal Concept is an organization of Farmers, Processors, Buyers and Investors building strong links into the New Local Food Chain by expanding the market for local, ecological and wholesome foods while nurturing the arts in rural communities. The farm has been operating for 26 years on two parcels of land, one owned by ARC and one (200 acres) which Glencolton split off back in 1995. (Glencolton, however, has leased this second parcel the entire time, and it forms an integral part of the farming operations. ) This 200 acres parcel of land provides all of the either feed for the cows as well as grazing land for the younger cows. ARC has been offered a special deal to purchase this land for 300,000 dollars; the land value itself has just been appraised by a certified appraiser at 520,000 dollars.
The long term plan to finance this land will be the conversion of the current cow share membership to farm share members. The cow share members pay $300 every six years, depreciating by $50 per year, with a renewal required every six years. The farm shares will have a share value of $2000, which will remain the same until the member leaves the co-op and will receive the full amount back.
The current 150 cow share members converted to farm shares will cover the $300,000 purchase price of the 200 acres. This conversion process will be implemented over a two year period, and should be completed by the fall of 2011.
As a short term measure to help finance the purchase of the land, a group of cow share members have formed a company (informally called “Cow Corp”) to loan the money to ARC. Each investor purchases shares in the company proportionate to their investment. ARC will pay 5% simple interest, calculated annually to the company, which will then distribute this to the shareholders of the company. The company will have a lien on the land as collateral for this loan to provide security to its investors. It is expected this investment will last two year, as it should be completely paid back through the conversion of the cow shares to farm shares.
To-date, this group has raised $138,000. Along with money already raised by the conversion of cow share to farm share, it is expected there will be a short fall of approximately $125,000. We are in the process of seeking a bank mortgage to cover this amount. The cash flow to support this mortgage and the 5% to the investors will be covered by the lease payments no longer required and from rental income from the house located on the parcel of land.
We are looking for investors interested in helping assist this type of community-based agriculture while still offering them a decent return in these very uncertain times.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
On Saturday evening, Thomas spoke about W. J. Stein. Stein was perhaps the most interesting person in Rudolf Steiner's entourage. He came to Anthroposophy through his mother and was really the youngest of Steiner's close friends. He had achieved an experience of his own past lives during Steiner's life and received instruction from Steiner himself. Steiner's death was tragic for him on his personal path of enlightenment. Stein wrote a book on the Grail called The Ninth Century in which he researches the history of the ninth century trying to find the historical persons behind the Grail pictures. It is the most enlightened book ever produced on the subject. Stein was a great thinker with deep connections to Alchemy.
On Sunday, Thomas spoke at the Christian Community on the TAO. He connected North American native people to the Great Atlantean TAO - the Great Spirit. The audience was captivated by the journey of this word through the history of the earth right up to our present day. Again, D. N. Dunlop was mentioned. Rudolf Steiner had once said, "D. N. Dunlop is connected with all the Ancient Mysteries", which includes North American Mysteries before the white man came here.
Thomas spoke on "9/11" at the Glenora Camphill farm and the room was filled to overflowing. And his final talk before sailing off to Seattle was at Sunrise Waldorf School on Rudolf Steiner's childhood. He also covered mythological figures in the Waldorf curriculum.
This year, Thomas will be speaking three times on the Mystery Dramas of Rudolf Steiner, and he will talk at the Christian Community about the reincarnation question, using Rudolf Steiner and Thomas Aquinas as the great example for us.
For more information, please contact Ann Watson at 250-653-4184.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
"What I would simply say as a result of the work we did together on this weekend: It was exceptionally helpful on a personal basis; however, as we know, self-development is not simply a personal affair, but has its consequences into the social organism and context in which one finds oneself. So, that goes for me into the work with my special needs friends, with the work of the Class, with many other ramifications which I may not even as yet be so aware of."
"I am convinced that Anthroposophy is what helps me to keep my soul connected and clear in my teaching and healing work with others and with my family. That said, I agree with Arthur Zajonc that other forms of spiritual work and healing help need to be welcomed at this difficult time in the world, to gently foster world relationships and understandings...'How much inner expansion have I the capacity for without allowing fear and grasping to rule my sense of truth?' I feel that this is what Arthur Zajonc challenges us to do, with his excellent bridging work between science, Anthroposophy, and various forms of meditative teachings from other great masters. His gentle, Sophianic tears of great passion and compassion for the work are the same tears that the Dalai Lama has shed for his troubled people. We all shed these tears inwardly for the pain of the world. Steiner encourages us to enter the troubled waters with a well crafted boat and an even keel. As the Buddhists say, we must feel the fear and then do it anyway. We must open to the waters and trust the refreshment of the Divine Christ carrying all of us. Blessings."
On a cold, rainy, Friday evening in October a group of us gathered at Hesperus to attend a weekend of Healing through Essential Oils. The workshop was organized by Regine Kurek and Arscura faculty and led by Thomas von Rottenberg, a Berlin Naturopath.
We quickly warmed to our workshop leader. Thomas is gentle, informative, a wonderful story teller, and has an infectious passion about the healing energies of the oils. He shared that along with curative eurythmy, and artistic therapies, the proper use of essential oils is one of the most powerful healing methods.
He began by reminding us that we are made of various bodies: physical, etheric, astral and "I" or ego forces. He said that illness feeds on forces that we do not use. He re-stated that anything we do not process consciously, our body will pay the price for and have to process it.
He told us that the healing is not about the essential oil, but the oil forming process. There are different ways to interact with the oil according to the levels of our different bodies.
He invited us to get to know the oils through three different methods:
First, he put an unidentified oil in the middle of the circle in the closed bottle and asked us to sense into it.
Then we were to get to know it through smelling it over a period of a few minutes.
Lastly, we had to meditate on the oil.
Wonderful rich, heady aromas filled the room as we each experienced the essence in the oils.
Thomas assured us that each reaction was correct according to our unique way of interfacing with the principle in the oil and how the full Being of the oil arose amongst all of our individual differences. It was interesting how different our reactions were and even how our own relationship with the oil changed over a few minutes.
He explained that the most information about the nature of the oil was found in the strongest reactions. That the reactions are a potent encounter between our core and the oil's core. He said that each oil is a carrier of a divine or higher principle. If we are aligned to that principle we will be at peace with it. If we have too much sympathy or antipathy to the oil it could represent a shadow side of that principle. In that case, the oil has a message for us on where to heal our selves. If there is no reaction, we are either at peace with the principle, or numbed out to it. In this way, the oils would show us our deficiencies, wounds and strengths with the principles they represented.
We developed our own unique relationship with each of the several oils he presented. He encouraged us to spend time with the oils, to get to know them better, even to put a vial under our pillow at night to allow the active principle in the oil to teach us. It was suggested we keep an oil journal.
He urged us to be conscious of the oils when working with them. That not to be so is an abuse to the Being of the oil.
Once this relationship with the oil is established, we can call on its divine healing principles to be with us, whether or not the physical oil is present. The stronger the relationship, the stronger the healing forces.
He also warned that there is one oil he knows that is not positive, Patchouli. It has a strong Ahrimanic force and takes away our free will. We are to be careful when dealing with it. Further caveats included the use of oils with children and those in crisis.
The most effective way to access the healing qualities of an oil is through an oil dispersion bath.
He led us through a consultation, demonstrated an oil dispersion bath and left us a list of resources.
Rahim B. Habib. ND (905-597-7201, 305 Carrville Rd , Richmond Hill is setting up oil dispersion baths according to this protocol.
The book Portraits in Oil by Phillip Mailhebianx was recommended.
Oils are available from Andrea Stanton (413-297-2802)
Thomas will return to deepen our relationship with these beings who heal us through oils.
Contact Arscura at www.arscura.com or 905-763-1003 for more information on upcoming workshops.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Out of all the civilizations that have existed, it is perhaps the ancient Greeks that have inspired continuous generations since their brief golden legacy and have contributed more to our modern civilization in all our functions and knowing than anyone else.
Mathematics, Geometry, Science, Astrology, Theology, Medicine, Agriculture, Philosophy, History, Literature, Poetry, Art, Sculpture, Theatre, Music and Dance are among the many genres that have been mastered and developed since the Greeks had originally thrust them into public existence over 2500 years ago.
Much more than the Romans and the ancient Hindus do we owe our technology, langauge, thinking, being and doing...(even though the Greeks were indebted to the Hindus, and likewise the Romans to the Greeks).
To describe everything we've adopted from the Greeks (and Romans), we would need a tongue of iron and a palate of steel!
Rudolf Steiner knew this and I believe that this was at the root and the heart of his renewal of civilization called Anthroposophy. Everywhere we look in Steiner's ouvre, we find connections and links to the ancient Greeks, from his Mystery plays to his Cosmology, from his scientific research to his diverse philosophy. The profound thing is his use of ancient studies consolidated with modern psychology and spirituality.
Truth, Beauty and Goodness were at the foundation of Steiner's spiritual philosophy. This was spoken by the great sages of Greece: Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles and especially Plato. As a side note, it is interesting to notice Anthroposophy (in kernal form) in Buddhism. Their philosophy and way of being resembles the spirituality of ancient Greece in their use of applying the harmony of living of the three virtuistic principles of Truth, Beauty and Goodness.
"Everything comes from the Greeks", a wise professor once said, and rightly so. Everything we know as civilization, order and knowledge stems mainly from the Ancient Greek world. What would we be without Homer? Or Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Heraclitus, Parmenides and Empedocles? Or Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes and Menander? What about Sappho, Pindar and Theocritus? How about Herodotus and Thucydides? Or the great Alexander?
To think about all this is truly a marvel in contemplation and comprehension and the more we aquaint ourselves with the enormous output of the Ancient Greeks the more we will realize that Steiner's Anthroposophy closely follows the wisdom from that Golden Age long past but that is is also incredibly relevant to today's world and tomorrow's future.
-- by Susan Locey
After returning from the conference “Encircling Light–Expectant Silence” in the Yukon, I feel impelled to crystallize and share some of the impressions. That puts me into the context of many people of European heritage from the last four centuries who visited the Arctic and then felt impelled to write about it— the temptation is certainly there! I can only say I was surprised and moved by what I experienced, and am still trying to understand what was experienced.
The greatest—and most unexpected—surprise for me in the North was the experience of the light. Sunlight is so different in the North, even five weeks after the summer solstice. There was a bathing in light that had something to do with the gentle angle of the sun, the pouring of light over the vast landscape, and the long, gentle transitions from daylight or night into twilight. The experience at dawn was not so much of the sun rising from the horizon, as it was of light itself arising. It was a subtle self-proclaiming of the light, as if we were approaching a threshold to the realm where light is at home—a half-conscious experience of nearing the birthplace of the sun! According to Rudolf Steiner’s research, the Arctic is where the sun separated itself out of the earth sphere during the Hyperborean epoch.
I constantly felt questions arising with the light about our kinship to the light, the nature of light with all its potent and manifold substance. And there were many experiences, somehow both known and unexpected:
- Light itself seemed more “real” and powerful than what can be perceived with the light, even though light cannot by itself be seen.
- Light and darkness belong together, as in the outside and the inside of the same emanating power or being. The long transitions of twilight were the turning inside out of the essence of light.
- Light carries formative picturing forces, which are offered directly to the plant kingdom as archetypes for growth into visible and recognisable forms. In the sunlight there is life-bearing substance much more powerful than what nature is able to absorb during the short Northern summer, so that one walks in the midst of a powerful reservoir of potential for growth.
Light is a garment for spiritual beings. Different kinds of light are also indications of different beings from the hierarchies working and weaving in the light. And so the question arises, which spiritual beings are working in this light? “Who” is the spirit of light in the North? Through the content of lectures at the conference, a direction towards an answer was suggested. But if we hold back from defining a specific identity, the Prologue from John’s Gospel reveals for us a highest Being who incarnates in life and light on the way to incarnation as Man. The Logos works with and through other beings in the hierarchies, and the great span from the distant past to the distant future suggests that the spirit of light in the North is a Being intimately connected to the Christ. The distant past brings forth images from the hyperborean time when the sun was still united with the earth. The distant future points to a time when the sun will again unite with the earth.
During the conference in Whitehorse, the boundaries of different levels of consciousness were very permeable, encouraging a weaving-breathing between consciousness, dreaming half-consciousness and super-consciousness. Through artistic experiences, the heroes, prophetesses and divine beings of sagas from the North were impressed into our sensibilities, creating organs of perception in us to perceive “ordinary” people as representatives of great archetypes.
Another strong influence in the North is the close threshold between life and death. It is part of existence that death accompanies us, no matter where we are, but with the presence of the wilderness, the dangers, the extremes of frigid temperatures, months of darkness, and the stories of people who disappeared into the night and winter—all these weave for us a strong consciousness of this threshold of death. This awareness creates a heightened appreciation for the fragility of life, a profound gratitude for each day and each meeting, and for the spiritual impact of the mere deed of living!
It seems so incredibly important for the whole working together of heaven and earth that there are human beings who simply by living build the fragile bridge for impulses from above to work into humanity, as evidenced through the space given in the conference for recognising and meeting Native peoples. Their presence everywhere in the Yukon was notable and their significant contributions to humanity have for so long been overlooked by eyes that only see “results.” It is a powerful reality that human beings can contribute without necessarily creating or producing visible results other than the accomplishment of survival, the deed of life through being.
A book about early contact with the Arctic traces the story of a lone survivor from a winter whaling camp, who by sheer faith and will faced unspeakable terrors and mirages. He returned totally altered to 17th century England, living with a view beyond the normal blindness to the boundaries of life and death, sanity and insanity. In his presence an enduring calm could radiate in a healing way over other people, a power that evoked superstitious awe—but it was a hard-earned gift gained from facing his fears, his own double, and from the stark grappling with his will to survive.
Frederick Cook wrote in Return from the Pole: “the greatest mystery, the greatest unknown, is not that beyond the frontiers of knowledge but that unknown capacity in the spirit within the inner man of self… Therein is the greatest field for exploration. To have suffered the tortures and to have become resigned to the aspects of death as we did—to learn this is experience which no gold can buy. The shadow of death had given new horizons, new frontiers to life.”
If we could receive in all humility these gifts from the North as offerings from spirits of evolution, we could take up into our inner life these potential reservoirs of light forces. The Apocalypse reveals pictures of the earth in the process of dying. Perhaps this dying is like an arctic landscape, outwardly barren most of the time, but filled with potential pictures for new life. The North can reveal for us how change can lead not only to death but through death to transformation—even to resurrection.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
This year the initiative is working with the theme, “The Hierarchies and the Physical World”, with the first Goetheanum as a meditative basis. Margaret sends out regular mailings with study material.
If you want to connect with this mode of study, please contact Margaret by email, or by phone at (323) 462-7703.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
On learning of his passing, one of his colleagues wrote: “I loved his stories and his insight on what was happening in each and every area. I will miss Owen’s sincere soul, his passion and his knowledge, but most of all, his smile.”
Owen was loved and respected by all those that knew him - his family, friends and colleagues. A dear man and a dear soul, he was always ready to provide help when needed, and often offered help to others before being asked. One felt ‘adorned’ by his presence and gentle smile.
Born in Victoria, British Columbia, on April 5th, 1946, Owen was his parents’ second child. Previous to his arrival they had adopted a girl, feeling that they could not have a child of their own. During his growing years Owen delighted in bible studies, memorizing verses and spending his Friday evenings, alongside his neighbor, looking at the cosmos through a telescope.
While at the University of Victoria, among the many life-long friends he made, he met Marilyn, his wife-to-be, at a church group for university age students. Following graduation, Owen pursued further studies at the Meteorology School in Toronto. Their connection continued there. Both had a deep interest in spiritual exploration and were married in July, 1971.
Their first child Kara was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan where Owen began his career as a meteorologist with Environment Canada. His next posting was in Gander, Newfoundland. While there, he and Marilyn adopted Peter, their second child and were introduced to the work of Edgar Cayce -- a stepping stone to their eventual discovery of Anthroposophy.
From 1976 until 1984, Owen was the Meteorological Forecaster for a British company that serviced offshore oil rigs. Starting in Aberdeen, Scotland, his meteorological work took him to the island of Malta and to Bahrain, before returning to Aberdeen where he and Marilyn had taken up the study of Anthroposophy and were introduced to the Camphill Community initiative, the Christian Community, the Waldorf School and Biodynamics.
In 1984, the family returned to North Vancouver and a few years later their ‘rowan’ child, Rosie, was born. Owen continued his interest in the activities of the Science Section of the Anthroposophical Society and in the Canadian Biodynamic Society. In the early years, he organized several studies of the ‘Agriculture Course’. Throughout his years in North Vancouver he was also very dedicated to the work of the Christian Community, serving on its board. In later years, he joined the board of the Rudolf Steiner Centre and even stored the entire RS Center’s library in his home, while the Centre was in transition to a new facility. This triggered a passion for collecting as many of Rudolf Steiner’s works as possible.
In his professional work at Environment Canada’s Pacific Weather Center, Owen became part of the specialized marine forecast team affectionately known as the ‘Bomb Squad’. (‘Bomb’ is a meteorological term for sudden storms that cause hazardous boating conditions. Sadly these storms took the lives of several mariners that Owen frequently spoke with.)
During his career, he published four books for mariners on the weather of the Georgia Basin and Pacific North Coast. In his book ‘The Wind Came All Ways’, he attempted to nurture more than facts by using quotes from weather journals and paintings by Emily Carr. His books are still widely circulated, and well appreciated by the west coast marine community.
His workshops on weather and on cloud formations were inspirational. One could experience Owen’s passion and struggle to develop a spiritual understanding of weather shining through. Owen also served as a founding member of the School of Nature, an international initiative that provides field-oriented workshops to further the study of the Spirit in nature, and contributed to a weekly study group that focuses among other initiatives, on the study of the Elemental Beings and their activities in nature.
Owen retired in 2006 and in the following year was honoured with the Rube Hornstein Award--a prestigious national award for his various contributions to Operational Meteorology and his coaching and mentoring of young meteorologists.
Following his retirement he became occupied with the transformation of his new home in Duncan, on Vancouver Island, creating flower beds and a garden to which he added some very high deer fencing, after experiencing the trials and tribulations of island gardening. It was a monumental task that he completed with the help of a friend earlier in the year.
On the family front, Owen delighted in being a grandpa to his grandchildren Jaspar and Rowan, often taking his grandson to soccer practices and games, introducing him to some new activities like golf, and on a fishing expedition with ‘uncle Peter. He enjoyed planting a little garden, and baking and reading with his granddaughter.
In Duncan, Owen continued his spiritual work. He attended two study groups and the devotional group of the Christian Community, and continued as the organizing server, as he did throughout his time in North Vancouver, with the occasional Christian Community services. He also hosted several ‘Festival’ studies and was the Treasurer of the Ita Wegman Association, spending many hours in meetings and following the activities of the association with great interest and support.
Although apolitical, in the last years he became occupied with alternative social/political views and theories, and in Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on the impending incarnation of Ahriman.
Illness was very distressing for him and he was disappointed that he did not have enough strength to overcome it, but there was always the question in his mind ‘as to whether he had something to do on the other side’, since he could not find a strong reason to stay, despite the many reasons family and friends could give him.
His wife Marilyn said, “Even close to the end he was concerned about the family and didn’t leave until he had spoken to each of us making sure his concerns would be looked after… and then took off on a tailwind as our son Peter, a mariner, said.”
At Owen’s parting a great wind slammed a door shut. It was rather fitting.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
This is an invitation to all members and guests to join us on Wednesday, October 14th for a Michaelmas celebration at 8:00 p.m. in the room in the basement at Hesperus. There will be a variety of contributions from members as well as two artistic activities. (eurythmy, drawing) If anyone wishes to contribute or get involved in any way, please contact Moira Huston (416-201-9537).
Monday, September 21, 2009
Déjà plus d'un mois s'est écoulé depuis la soirée de clôture de notre congrès Encircling Light – Expectant Silence à Whitehorse! Lorsque tout le branle-bas d'annulations et d'inscriptions de dernière minute a fini par se calmer, nous étions en tout 181 participants venus pour créer ensemble un des événements les plus remarquables qu'ait jamais connu la Société anthroposophique au Canada. Nous sommes reconnaissants, les membres du comité de planification, que la mosaïque de possibilités que nous avions voulu rendre disponibles pour la semaine se soit en effet concrétisée. Des réflexions sur l'événement continueront à paraître dans notre bulletin électronique et dans Glimpses, entre autres, pendant un certain temps encore. Pour ma part, j'aimerais vous faire part de deux événements qui ont touché notre semaine à Whitehorse.
Owen Lange, un membre habitant l'île de Vancouver, s'est éteint le 4 août, pendant le congrès. Owen et sa femme Marilyn s'étaient inscrits pour participer à l'événement mais ont dû annuler en raison de la maladie d'Owen. Ceux des congressistes qui avaient connu Owen de ce côté-ci du seuil le sentaient présent parmi nous, comme s'il tenait à participer à la semaine d'une forme ou d'une autre. L'annonce de sa mort aux participants, d'une part, et l'hommage rendu à Owen, à Marilyn et à sa famille lors des présentations artistiques du vendredi soir, d'autre part, ont fait de sorte que le congrès entier puisse accueillir la vie et le travail de notre ami et collègue de l'École de Science de l'esprit.
Un deuxième phénomène remarquable, c'était la couche de fumée qui couvrait le ciel de Whitehorse, provenant d'un feu de forêt des environs. Il n'y avait aucun menace pour Whitehorse même, mais nous avons assisté à un obscurcissement du ciel bleu et clair qui avait accueilli le début de notre congrès. Ceux d'entre nous qui avons voyagé jusqu'à Teslin lors des excursions du mercredi, nous sommes retrouvés plus proche de du foyer de l'incendie, dans les environs du lac Teslin et de la rivière Teslin. Le soir, nous nous sommes tenus sur les bords du lac, près du Tlingit Heritage Centre, d'où nous avons pu observer comment le feu altérait les couleurs du paysage; le dessous des feuilles des trembles revêtait un vert étrange et le soleil, tout rouge, se brûlait un passage à travers les nuages chargés de fumée.
Au Canada, nous avons tendance à considérer l'eau, l'air, la lumière et la terre comme étant les éléments prédominants. Pourtant, l'élément feu, hibernant sous terre pendant les longs mois d'hiver, est là en attente, jusqu'à ce que, d'une façon ou d'une autre, quelque chose vienne le déclencher pendant les grandes chaleurs et les orages de la période estivale. Encore une fois cet été, les incendies ont fait rage dans le sud de la Colombie Britannique, menaçant des communautés telles que Kelowna. Avant de venir participer au congrès, Ron et Monika Ficke de West Kelowna avaient dû évacuer leur demeure en attendant que le feu qui la menaçait soit circonscrit.
La présence du feu aux limites extérieures de notre congrès et la mort d’Owen au cœur même de l'événement nous ont rappelé que nous étions réellement engagés dans un processus qui embrassait toute une gamme d'expériences humaines, intérieures et extérieures. Peut-être celles-ci ont-elles offert à plusieurs d'entre nous l'occasion de pratiquer le quatrième exercice donné par Rudolf Steiner. Pour pouvoir découvrir ce qu'il y a de positif dans tout événement, dans toute expérience, nous devons traverser, avec notre penser et encore plus avec notre sentiment, jusqu'à « l'autre côté » de la réalité émotionnelle et spirituelle de cette chose qui se trouve devant nous. * Car il s'agit de découvrir une nouvelle façon de saisir ce qui a occasionné cette réalité et, par là, de découvrir ce que nous pouvons devenir grâce à elle.
Une fois le congrès terminé, en route pour Fort St. John, Marjorie et moi avons passé la nuit au Dawson Peaks Resort, situé juste au sud de Teslin. Le propriétaire, David Hett, a raconté comment un ancien de la nation Tlingit voyait le feu comme un agent salutaire qui purifie et renouvelle la terre, pourvu toutefois qu'il reste de l'autre côté du lac et de la rivière pour ne pas empiéter outre mesure sur les vies humaines. Pour nous, participants du congrès, le feu a apporté à l'événement une nuance, en quelque sorte un « autre côté » qui a été présent durant toute la semaine. Était-ce un cadeau inattendu des êtres qui avaient porté ce congrès avec tant d'amour tout le long de sa planification et de sa réalisation?
Mes meilleures pensées vous accompagnent vers la Michaëlie.
*d'une image tirée d'une conférence de Franz E. Winkler (The Psychology of Leadership) donnée le 6 février 1957 à l'institut Myrin.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
It has been over a month since the closing evening of the Encircling Light – Expectant Silence Conference in Whitehorse. When the flux of late cancellations and registrations had come to rest, there were 181 participants who came together for one of the most remarkable events in the life of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada. Those of us on the Planning Group are grateful that the mosaic of possibilities we wanted to make available for that week came to fruition. Reflections from those who took part in the Conference will continue to appear on our E-news, in Glimpses, and elsewhere over the next while. For my part, I want to note here two events that touched into our week in Whitehorse.
Owen Lange, a member from Vancouver Island, crossed the threshold on August 4th, while the Conference was in progress. Both Owen and his wife, Marilyn, had registered for this event and then had to cancel due to Owen’s illness. Those at the Conference who had known Owen on this side of the threshold were very much aware of his presence, as if he had resolved to take part in the week, one way or another. As we shared word of his passing with other participants and then spoke of Owen and Marilyn and their family in the context of the Friday evening artistic offerings, the Conference as a whole embraced the life of our friend and colleague in the work of spiritual science.
A second phenomenon was the smoke that lay over Whitehorse from a fire in the surrounding area. Whitehorse itself was not threatened, yet we witnessed the clear, blue sky that greeted many of us upon arrival darken as the Conference began. Those of us who went to Teslin on the Wednesday excursion found ourselves closer to the source of the fire, in the vicinity of Teslin Lake and the Teslin River. In the evening we stood at the shore of the lake, near the Tlingit Heritage Centre, and observed how the fire affected the colouring of the landscape; the underside of the aspen leaves turned an eerie green and a red sun burned a hole through the layer of smoke-laden cloud.
In Canada, we think of water, air and light, and earth as being the predominant elements. Yet hibernating in the earth during the long winter months, the fire element waits its time until it is ignited, one way or another, during the heat and storms of the summer. Once again, fires raged this summer in the south of British Columbia, threatening communities such as Kelowna. Before coming to the Conference, Ron and Monika Ficke of West Kelowna had to leave their home until the fire that threatened it was contained.
The presence of fire at the edge of our Conference and Owen’s death at its heart reminded us that we were truly engaged in a week that encompassed a range of human experience, outwardly and inwardly. It may also have given some of us an opportunity to practice the fourth basic exercise given by Rudolf Steiner. In order to find that which is truly positive in any event or experience, we need to penetrate with our thinking and even more, our feeling, to the far side of the emotional and spiritual reality before us*, and discover another way of seeing what has brought it about and what we can become because of it.
On our way to Fort St. John after the Conference, Marjorie and I stayed a night at the Dawson Peaks Resort, just south of Teslin. David Hett, the owner, remarked that a Tlingit elder had welcomed the fire as an agent for cleansing and renewing the land, so long as it stayed on the far side of the lake and river and did not impinge on human lives more than what was needed. For us at the Conference, the fire brought a nuance, or edge, that journeyed with us throughout the week—perhaps an unexpected gift from those beings who had carried this event so lovingly throughout the planning and living of it.
With good thoughts toward Michaelmas,
* From an image found in The Psychology of Leadership, a lecture given by Franz E. Winkler at the Myrin Institute on February 6,1957
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
L’École Rudolf Steiner de Montréal is very pleased to witness the development of this initiative and is all heartfelt supporting it.
In this pioneering phase, we welcome any donations to secure our cost operating, teacher training, family assistance, etc
With kind greetings and warm gratitude,
Jocelyne Arseneau for the college of teachers
Donations made to: Kerglas Centre (Foundation for special need adults)
7, chemin Kerr
Canton de Gore, QC, Canada
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Was this the secret of her quiet strength and her presence
leaving us spellbound in anticipation?
Who did not shed a tear in the delivery of silence amidst plain words.
Knowing not the pleasure of self-seeking, her pain came alone.
Uncluttered, it tore into well-protected spaces
and rippled forth.
On the refugee’s land of Dan Kenji, neither theirs nor ours
where reverence was more precious than gold,
and responsibility was a fact of nature.
It was there where her vision took hold.
Just an ordinary clearing in the woods,
where strawberries grew and wild roses
healing was foretold.
- t’was there where I met the wolf.
In a space of silent encounter
where no strawberries grew nor wild roses where no visions filled the spaces
where nothingness came unforetold.
In this northern place of encounter
where the day walk’s long into the night,
and the past, lonely, meet’s the present.
May the future ignite.
- Heidi Vukovich
- From the conference Encircling Light, Expectant Silence.
On an evening where young people gave several artistic presentations the question was raised, "What can one do to bridge the gap between young and old?"
In a conversation I had afterwards, I said that I did see a lack of places for people of these different ages to meet. Mentioning the Christian Community Conferences for youth that I went to during high school, I found an echo in the older lady I was talking to. There needs to be places such as these, where young people can measure themselves by their peers and elders in a setting apart from their lives at home. At the Christian Community conferences, high school aged youth participate in artistic workshops and conversation groups, where they come into a different kind of exchange with others their age, young adults who have more experience than themselves, as well as older adults, including the priests. A central element of these conferences is, besides the services, the evening plenum. Everyone sits in one room, in concentric circles of chairs, and has a conversation, led by a facilitator. The conversation is often sparked by an idea out of the morning's presentation.
Out of the conversations at the conference in the Yukon this Summer it was evident that something was being missed. Could a meeting of the different ages contribute towards uncovering and bringing to light impulses that have not been able to come into being in the older generation, and are in danger of being stifled in the new?
Dave Luborsky Homer, Alaska
The Northern Conference was in my experience a wonderful conference. To sum up the experience, I would say that this was a conference in the social realm designed to cultivate community. To that end it was most successful as the air was fairly palpable with talk of new initiatives.
“Designed” because it was clear to me that a great deal of thought went into the planning of the conference: from the bus schedules, day trips, accommodation, conversation groups, work shops, and group singing all contributed to meeting the greatest number of people in the short time together.
This conference, in my limited experience of a dozen or so conferences, broke new ground:
* Each participant received an address booklet including the name, address, telephone number, and e-mail contact for all participants.
* Members of the Vorstand present were clearly accessible to everyone as they mingled with participants during coffee breaks, lunches, etc.
* The Youth Section was very much apart of the conference. Conversation with Youth section and the “rest of us” was very enlightening, closing some of the perceived gulf between us.
* The Native stream was interwoven throughout the conference, culminating in a gift of song from a choir of Anthroposophists to Meta Williams thus fulfilling a childhood vision of Meta’s.
* A new form of Anthroposophical clapping arose out of the silence: hold your hands in the air above you; wiggle your hands and fingers in silent appreciation.
* Tear-inducing laughter brought on by the artistic work of Dawn the Simple Fool. (I have an audiotape of Anthroposophists gaffawing in record number and with gusto to prove it.)
* Conversation groups and workshops had opportunity to present a culmination of their efforts on the last day. This was a wonderful way to experience what others were doing during the week.
I wish to thank the ASC Council members, and their teams, for their efforts to bring this Conference into being. Having been there I now can understand the need for all the trips to the north to bring people together. Without that personal connection I think not as many people from other countries would have attended.
In closing, this was an amazing conference for me personally. The conference, the place, the people I met, all exceeded my imaginations. I am looking forward to now connecting with the Alberta people I met to “set mine I aflame” again as it was during the conference.
Debbie Allen(formerly in Vancouver, BC, now in Vimy AB
Friday, August 28, 2009
One of the many very special events during our conference was a talk given by Meta Williams from the Southern and Northern Tuchone First Nations. She is from the Wolf Clan but in her also lives her British heritage. During her talk she shared with us “the Native Way” of nurturing children and leading them through youth into adulthood. Many of us were deeply touched as she brought to life the caring and love extended by elders in this process.
I had spent some time talking to her on the bus during one of the excursions. She revealed to me that as soon as the conference was over she was planning to go into solitude leaving all comfort and earthly goods behind. Throughout the winter she will live on her own, with the world of animals, in the forest at temperatures which are far below freezing. She described how food caught can be preserved in a five foot deep hole during the cold winter months. This she will do
in preparation for the opening of a healing centre for women of her clan.
At her talk she stood before us on stage saying: “First and foremost, I feel responsible for all of you, secondly I feel responsible for my family and thirdly for my clan.” In some of us arose the question: What are we doing for her? As she is parting with all of her belongings, she will need help with funding to fulfill her calling and so on the day of her talk, a fund was set up without her knowledge, to assist her when she decides to move on. Phillip Thatcher will remain in contact with her. It is held under the umbrella of
ISIS Cultural Outreach Society
c/o Arie van Ameringen
1358 Chemin Bruce
Dunham, J0E 1MO, Quebec
If you are interested in helping with this worthy cause, please make out a cheque to
ISIS Cultural Outreach International Society and mark it clearly with Meta Williams Fund, then send it to the above address. If you are a Canadian Citizen you may request a tax deductible receipt.
We have made a new friend,
Her laughter purified by suffering,
Her speech transformed through tears
Reached deeply into our Being.
Breathing stopped for moments,
Hearts felt touched – and peace
Found a new place.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
This poem was inspired by the author’s attendance at the recent Conference of the North in Whitehorse, entitled: “Encircling Light, Expectant Silence.”
by Ron MacFarlane
They came ...
This rag-tag band of gypsy-eyed and dry-mouthed seekers of soul,
Hope-thirsting for northern gold –
Not for the hardened sunlight locked in quartzite veins within the earth,
But for the golden effulgence that bridges the Great Divide between Worlds.
From the Four Facings they came ...
Sore-bruised from the fierce march of city-ization,
And bent-weary from the weight of world wisdom.
I know these long-travellers from ancient times ...
When oceans of ice flowed down from the Axis;
When mighty Aztlan sank deep beneath the dark waters
I provided them green haven, these carriers of outer fire,
And I survived them on the meat of my beasts.
Urged on by the Iron Spirit of Our Age, they have returned ...
The one who leads them new is familiar to me:
He sounds from the shining heart of Shamballa;
Sadly, few recognize his spirit
When he present moves amongst them.
They speak of “crossing over” and of “the guardian” ...
This is not strange to me, for I am Beringia,
The Guardian of the Northern Gate;
I serve Borealis, the Great Spirit of the North;
In times past, I bridged the old lands of the East and the new lands of the West.
In times yet unborn ...
I will spirit-ferry the old and the new rounds
That come before the Great Wrath;
In those bright and terrible days,
Will I see again these walkers-on-the-earth?
Will they carry anew the inner fire and the inner gold?
Will they then find in my tundra-land of outer diamond,
The Philosopher’s Stone within themselves?
Will they come again ...?
Thursday, July 9, 2009
INTRODUCTION TO THE THEME
- Arthur Zajonc
Friday – Sep. 11, 2009
7:30 PM - Public Lecture – Learning to See
Our conventional way of knowing is too small to allow us to experience and understand the full richness of the universe. What if knowing could be expanded to embrace all dimensions of life? How would this be done?
7:30 PM - Public Lecture - Learning to Love
We are born to love. Yet at each age of life we must learn to love anew. And at each stage that which we love opens itself to us. Through loving more fully, we know far more deeply.
Seminar for Members of the Anthroposophical Society:
9:00 am – 10:30 am : The Meditative Life: a Review
11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Cognitive breathing and the path of contemplative inquiry
2:30 pm – 3:15 pm : Singing with Elisabeth Koekebakker
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Further exercises and conversation
9:00 am – 10:30 am: Practising compassion
11:00 – 12:00 Closing Conversation
Fee includes snacks and public lecture, but NOT meals or accommodation.
Note: We apologize but we are unable to provide discounts for this year’s event.
For more information or assistance, please contact: Mark McAlister at (416) 892-3656, 877-892-3656; firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Written by James Steil, with revisions by John A. McCurdy
I have just come inside from reading on the deck; my Master’s thesis is handed-in and it is time for a little rejuvenation. Working through an old copy of An Attempt to Interpret the Metamorphosis of Plants, I have been taking some time to study the book of nature through Goethe’s eyes.
Goethe and his method of phenomenological inquiry remind me of the historical and contemporary relationship between spiritual science and academia, and so now I sit-down to write this introduction. In Goethe’s time - the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries - humankind was only just waking from the Kali Yuga, a five thousand year slumber of the mind. The age of the Archangel Michael had yet to dawn. Still naïve in their ideas regarding nature, most of Goethe’s intellectual contemporaries dismissed his attempts at spiritualising the scientific method as beyond poetry, but too ambitious for science . Yet Goethe’s method of studying and observing nature (including, but not limited to the metamorphosis of plants) has since led many a curious and rigorous mind to be stimulated beyond the bounds of conventional thought to a more immediate and forthright perception of the spiritual in matter - a much needed impulse for our times . My own research has confirmed this need: researchers are now asking new questions, and applying new methods; leading them into domains of knowledge and experience to which anthroposophy has a great deal to offer. Having wandered, child-like, and sometimes aimlessly, science finds itself again at the threshold of the grail, this time asking earnestly of Nature: “Who are you?” Must we remain silent?
My thesis has been about imagination, inspiration, intuition, and their appearances in cognitive development . Not only does Rudolf Steiner have much to say about cognition to academics today, cognitive scientific literature is already full of invaluable starting-points for making just such connections. Using the lens of anthroposophy, I have been able to illuminate the paradoxes within Buddhists’ research on embodiment and cognition, and the dead-ends of materialist analyses of language and metaphor. Ultimately, building on these thoughts has made it possible for me to fashion a phenomenal bridge from the conventional cognitive sciences right to the threshold of spiritual science.
As anthroposophists, we can and often do make use of contemporary ideas to further develop anthroposophical ones. Perhaps the time is right to carry our ideals and insights back into the work and world of academia, nourishing the dead concepts that too often predominate there, and quenching the thirst of those who seek higher thoughts. The naturalness of the impulse to give-back reminds me again of the plant world. Think of the bee which nourishes itself from the flower: In doing so it provides for its own community while at the same time fructifying the plant.
We might also imagine this symbiotic relationship in terms of a bridge, which facilitates movement in two directions at once. My own work, although dedicated to enriching the world of academia, has also deepened my understanding of and appreciation for anthroposophy – another benefit. What Steiner indicated in his books and many lecture-cycles was often only a brief outline of what could be known, and could also be one-sided at times. My research has yielded its greatest insights, its highest meanings, bridging anthroposophy and academia; requiring that I make both forms of knowing wholly and uniquely my own in my thinking, feeling, and willing. Wrestling with vague intuitions arising from the findings of others has strengthened my own capacity for perceiving truth, and expanded my understanding of anthroposophy. Building bridges from inner to outer is the living work of anthroposophy.
There are many examples of outstanding research borne out of anthroposophy, yet little finds its way into contemporary thought because most of this work unfolds outside the bounds of academia. Recognizing the need of our times, can we as anthroposophists, reach out beyond our own circles? Do we have the courage and wisdom to contribute to the emergence of a contemporary, living science? Do we have the resources needed to bring our work to the scholarly table? As was the case with Goethe, we cannot simply do, we must strive to be understood. This understanding will require anthroposophists develop concepts that can be clearly spoken across the traditional scientific/spiritual-scientific divide. Dialogue must be opened, cultivated, and sustained using new and existing vehicles and forums. Unlike in the past, this time science might be ready, willing, and able to listen.
To this end (or at least similar ones) a group of us has been discussing online the subject of spiritual science in academia. Not all of us are academics, and recently we decided to open-up our conversation to the participation of members at large. At this stage our purpose is simple and straightforward: to share perspectives on how each of us can work, or begin to work, with spiritual science in academia. Introducing our group (and this forum) with these few words we invite your listening, and your input. Given the needs of our time, I feel and hope our discussion may be a fruitful one. Welcome to the Forum on Spiritual Science in Academia – may all who enter flourish!
 “It has been suggested by a literary critic that Goethe was ‘a great poet who grew out of poetry’. Approaching him as we have done here, through the medium of his plant studies, we may perhaps offer the comparable conclusion, that Goethe was a great biologist, who, in the long run, overstepped the bounds of science.” This is the final sentence in the 20 page introduction to Goethe’s Metamorphosis as written by Agnes Arber D. Sc., F.R.S. in Chronica Botanica, an international collection of studies in the method and history of agriculture, Vol. 10 (Summer, 1946), the text I have been reading from.
 The discipline of Phenomenology itself has been practiced in various guises for centuries, but only came into its own in the early 20th century in the works of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and others (copied from Wikipedia).
 See for example, lecture 6 of The Mission of Michael, the Revelation of the Secrets of Man’s Being, where in reference to the value of Goethe’s phenomenology Steiner says: “To learn to recognize the externally-material as a soul-spiritual element: this is what matters … what is necessary is the following: in the future we must cease to differentiate abstractly between the material and the spiritual, but we must look for the spiritual in the material and describe it as such…” (p 107). I have an older publication of this lecture, but it is available as part of the compilation: The Archangel Michael: His Mission and Ours: Selected Lectures and Writing, edited by Christopher Bamford
 Anyone who is interested in knowing more about my thesis is welcome to contact me at email@example.com, and I will send you a copy of the preface and introduction. These present a good picture of the thesis as a whole, which I will also happily send if you request it.
Monday, July 6, 2009
We will start the new study year here at the Goetheanum with the Open Study Week, which takes place for the second time from 14th to 18th September 2009. This year our subject is 'Anthroposophy and the Idea of the Goetheanum'. The Open Study Week is an opportunity to get to know the Goetheanum with its history and its many possibilities, as well as the Collegium of the School of Spiritual Science and the Board of the Anthroposophical Society, the place itself and the life of Anthroposophical initiative connected to it. As the participants of this week are not required to have any prior knowledge of Anthroposophy, this is a good way for people with a new interest in Anthroposophy or groups, such as high school students, to get to know the Goetheanum.
At the Goetheanum we offer different study programs on the subject of Anthroposophy. There are full-time and part-time courses at weekends, designed to gradually develop new abilities and work with new contents. Please find attached our information leaflet for different courses in English and German. You can also find this information on our homepage.
I would like to ask you to make these two publications in pdf format available on your homepage, if possible. It would also be helpful if you could publish the following links http://www.goetheanum.org/799.html (German), http://www.goetheanum.org/799.html?L=1 (English)
If you have any questions, or if you would like to receive our printed brochures, please contact:
Edda NehmizGoetheanum, Postfach 4143 Dornach, Schweiz. Tel +41 61 706 44 14. Fax +41 61 706 44 firstname.lastname@example.org
With many thanks and warm greetings from the Goetheanum,
"The Portal of Initiation"and Its Relationship to Goethe's Fairy Tale,
August 12-16, 2009, Spring Valley NY.
Rudolf Steiner wrote four Mystery Dramas that unite mystery wisdom with stage art. He described the process of writing his first Mystery Drama, The Portal of Initiation, as a spiritual investigation that metamorphosed his own inner work with Goethe’s fairy tale, “The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily.”
This conference will feature four days of lectures, conversations and performances that will enable participants to deepen their relationship to these two works of art, which lie at the heart of Rudolf Steiner’s Spiritual Science, Anthroposophy. The Saturday performance of The Portal of Initiation will take place on the 99th anniversary of the play’s premiere in Munich, Germany.
Conference faculty includes Barbara Renold, Herbert O. Hagens, Joan Allen, Joan Almon, Els Woutersen, and Daniel Hafner.
For more information, or to register, contact Susan Wallendorf: 845-352-5020 x17 or email@example.com. To download a printable brochure with a detailed schedule, fees and registration information, please click here.
Monday, June 8, 2009
I offer the article below as my letter to you for this issue of Glimpses. The article will also appear in the Summer issue of the US News for members; excerpts will appear in the June issue of Anthroposophy Worldwide.
This coming August participants from many countries will come together in Whitehorse, Yukon, for the week-long conference Encircling Light – Expectant Silence. As I continue to prepare for this week, it seems good to bring together intentions, questions, insights and nuances from some of those who will take part in it.
When Edna Cox from Port Alberni, British Columbia, travelled to Whitehorse in August 2006 to begin preparing for the conference, she wondered “just how my anticipation of the north and its reality would fit together.” Such a question in one form or another may also live in other participants, especially for Canadians for whom “north” is a strong imagination of who they are, yet one that can seem remote from where they actually live. In the words of Alexandra Günther, a workshop leader from Ontario, “Central to my long-standing wish to be part of something like this conference is the question: What is it about the North that draws us there, we who are not its creatures? And what is the idea of North in the Canadian mind and heart, and in other people who have never been there?”
Canadians carry varied, powerful and conflicting images of their north, a fact that has fueled countless books, articles and works of art. Yet certain images are pervasive. West Vancouver participant Robbie Black pictures a drive northward from Edmonton, Alberta. The city falls behind, then the farms, then the last cluster of houses, until only the forest lies ahead: “When the car comes to rest, the silence descends…a subtle awareness emerges of all that lies in hiding, out of sight of the casual glance.”
Other participants are drawn northward by the silences they intuit from or have experienced in that part of the globe. Marjorie Nordås, a Canadian now teaching at the Norstrand School just south of Oslo, once travelled northward with a group from an army base in Toronto: “We made a performance right up between Russia and Canada, at a base called Alert. I was 20 years old but it was my first strong experience of the light, and what touched us most was the silence.”
Jef Saunders, who emigrated from Britain to Toronto, is also drawn to the “expansive light-filled days” and “deep, yet expectant silence”; he also wonders what spiritual intentions might be hidden in that landscape, waiting to be drawn out into the light. Or are these intentions hidden in ourselves, waiting to be unveiled within this northern setting? At the close of the 19th century, prospectors from around the world flooded into the Yukon looking for gold. Workshop leader Anthony Perzel, who is concerned with understanding the activity of elemental beings in the mineral wealth of the north and Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences in our exploitation of it, observes: “The seeking of precious metals and diamonds is analogous to seeking the ‘precious’ within ourselves.”
For at least two participants, the conference will provide a context for understanding the importance of the places where they live. Olga Kornienko from Ekaterinburg, Russia, writes: “Here in the middle of the Urals we have extreme variations of temperature, from -40C to +40C, with northern snowy winters and hot southern summers. The mountain range itself looks a lot like a spinal column; in the history of Russia it always played a spinal role. People here are strong and courageous, especially the women. Being a barrier and a gate, the Urals gathered different peoples and religions. So too, meeting different people from different parts of our planet helps you to meet yourself and know your native land better; the other side of the earth reflects your own land.”
And from Anchorage, Alaska, Mary Lee Plumb-Mentjes, with her Fairbanks colleague Lisa Del Alba, is trying to understand Alaska’s spiritual meaning in the world by observing its landscape, the angle of the sun, the caricatures of its people in the press, its 50th anniversary as a state of the United States: “How are we the same as and different from other northern lands? The not knowing is exciting. This is my first explicit, prolonged anthroposophical research; it is also very daunting.”
For Jorun Carlsen of Tønsberg, Norway, the conference in Whitehorse could be an opportunity to carry forward many years of research, as an extension of Nordic anthroposophical summer conferences held in Scandinavia and Finland and later, Iceland, from 1949: “Now I feel this impulse has expanded to the American continent, to Canada, and maybe next time it will be the Nordic East—in Russia. Nothing should be static; it has to change according to the time. I feel it is very important that we anthroposophists connect to and cooperate in a conscious way with the spiritual world in different places in the world.”
On a similar note, Marie Kolmos of Copenhagen, Denmark, wonders: “I’m curious about what a conference in the north could be like: Are anthroposophical thoughts and themes different from ones in the south of Europe? What can happen in a northern conference not held in a Scandinavian context?”
One contrast is evident: A conference hosted at 60 degrees latitude in the Nordic countries is supported by the presence of the Anthroposophical Society, anthroposophical initiatives and one hundred years of anthroposophical activity. Virtually all of Finland lies north of 60 degrees, as does most of Norway and much of Sweden. Iceland has only a few members of the Society and one Waldorf School and biodynamic farm but all are active north of 60 degrees; so too in Alaska, with the Waldorf School in Anchorage and the four members of the School of Spiritual Science in Fairbanks who meet weekly to work with the class lessons. In Canada there is a single anthroposophical initiative at 60 degrees—the Waldorf Preschool Chalia Tuzlak cares for in Whitehorse, where she has lived for twenty years. After having to travel thousands of miles over that time to go to pedagogical conferences elsewhere, Chalia is amazed and excited about the conference that will be held on her doorstep this coming summer: “Some people call me a keeper of the flame in this part of the world, but with no one to discuss thoughts on an anthroposophical level, I haven’t had many opportunities to grow on that path. So for me this conference is an opportunity to gain a new understanding of what supports my everyday life, as well as a new perspective of the North.”
Jim Steil of Calgary, Alberta, has a thought about what that perspective should include: “I notice a tendency to treat this conference on the north as if ‘North’ is up there, specifically the arctic. We had snow in Calgary yesterday and there is not a leaf in sight. Granted, this is not the tundra, but I feel strongly that in all parts of Canada we are in the North.”
Two further themes gleam through the thoughts of participants. One is a wish to meet and interact with First Nations peoples for whom the north is their homeland—an intention and responsibility acutely felt by Seija Zimmermann and Paul Mackay when they met last August in Whitehorse with the Council of the Society in Canada. For Jonitha and Paul Hasse of Hillsdale, New York, a meeting with First Nations friends stands in the context of a larger question raised by the failure of European cultures “to listen, to learn, to honor and to share the spiritual gifts of different peoples.”
The second theme is that of discovering the Christ in a new way: How can the light and silence and expansive landscape of the north support an expanding and deepening understanding of the etheric Christ in our time? In the words of a participant who lives near Edmonton:
I have never been to the North
This in itself is reason enough to go.
There is a mystery about this place—undiscovered truths, waiting to be understood.
From hence the Christ is coming,
Christ in the Earth,
Christ in us.
Last summer I stood at midnight on a bluff north of the Arctic Circle, overlooking the Inuit hamlet of Kugluktuk and the Arctic Ocean at Coronation Gulf. The sun hovered a few degrees above the northern horizon—as if it were about to return to the place from which it once left the earth. Yet after a time sunset became sunrise; the sun journeyed back into the sky, as if to remind me that Christ-sun comes to the north along another path, the path of warm, human activity.
And in closing, these words from Paul Mackay: “This conference in Whitehorse is of a special nature, not only because of its ‘expectant’ theme but also because of the way it has been prepared. Every step was silently contemplated and carefully designed; the contacts with those involved were taken care of in a most human way. All this creates a wonderful basis for the conference to unfold: May the encircling light shine over this conference!”
General Secretary for Canada