Monday, June 8, 2009

Anticipating The North

By Philip Thatcher

Dear Friends,

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!”

Philip Thatcher
General Secretary for Canada

Thoughts Related to the Encircling Light Conference

By Tatiana Pavlova, Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation

What is the North? Geographically, it is the huge area of ocean and land from the North Pole to the Pole Circle, including the Ice Ocean with islands and archipelagos and high latitude lands of Eurasia and America. Economically, it is a pantry of nature wealth which is really hard to approach. Emotionally, it is a big source of romantic experiences connected with special beauty of nature and the necessity to overcome ourselves, even to survive. If we looked at the North through these “lenses”, we would recognize it as consumers only. In this case, we will try to subjugate the North by exploiting mineral deposits and increasing northern tourism. And people have done that, at least during the last hundred years! But if we look at the North with open eyes, we could recognize some special challenges for our future development.
Almost all great Post-Atlantic human cultures used to develop in southern lands: South-East Asia, Central Asia, Front Asia and North Africa, South-West Asia and South Europe. Only the Fifth Post-Atlantic culture has its basis in more northern lands of Western Europe. And spiritual science says that the Sixth cultural epoch must be developed in Russia which is really a northern country. And we can connect the geography of mankind’s cultural development with human thinking’s changing.
Before the Greece-Roman cultural epoch people didn’t have thinking in the sense that we have it now. In ancient times they didn’t think thoughts; they realized, by their “I”, direct perceptions of concrete spiritual beings. Now we can find the imprint of those experiences in myths where human beings appear like Spirits between other Spirits. The sensible world was perceived as a revelation of the supersensible one, and it wasn’t necessary to have any science to understand such kind of perceptions. Later, thoughts were realized by the human astral body as living and endowed with soul reflections of spiritual beings. In that time people tried to find in nature spiritual beings at work there and the results of their deeds, as we can see in alchemical treatises. At the next stage of human development people experienced thoughts as living forces by their etheric bodies and recognized them as the same forces which could be found in nature. Wonderful Greece philosophy illustrates this period in human thinking. The Greeks knew that they didn’t produce thoughts themselves but got them from outside. Plato considered that “God’s thought has its source in intelligence and pure knowledge, so that a thought belongs to any soul which strives to perceive what must be perceived.”[1] At that time thinkers were sure that they recognized in their thoughts the essence of any phenomena (Aristotle called it “form”). This situation continued till XIII century when nominalism began its “triumphant march” in human thinking. Since that time, step by step, people have come to the conviction that thinking is the subjective activity of the cognizing soul and they produce their thoughts themselves. Descartes’ “I think, so I exist” has become a motto for mankind living in the Fifth Cultural Epoch; however, people have to realize that they cognize not the essence of any thing or phenomenon having a universal character but their ideas of it, which have not only individual (concerning phenomenon) but also a subjective character. And it is also true that now human beings experience their thoughts’ hold on physical body, where they didn’t contain Spirit, Soul and Life; they are only abstract shadows of living thoughts. Such thoughts cannot connect people with Universe, as was the case almost till XV century, but can only separate and encircle them in their own being. In these conditions mankind needs not only different sciences to understand nature and human being but also a special science in the cognitive process. Thus we have gnoseology dealing with the cognizing subject and being cognized object, and epistemology describing scientific cognition and correlation between scientific knowledge and the truth.
Because of having thoughts in physical body, people can cognize material things only, but not in their unity and totality. The object of human knowledge (in epistemology) is not a real but an ideal one, and this ideal object has disintegrated into “object of operating, object of implying and object of studying“.[2] All these “objects” are only “projections”, dead shadows of real things or phenomena, which are different in the ideas of different people. So most modern thinkers are sure that in reality human beings deal with not the real world but the world of their notions. In this situation, when ideas do not correspond to perceptions, human souls experience a kind of abyss separating them from reality. It’s really tragic because in this case the essential human need to recognize nature – in outer world and in human being – cannot be realized. Goethe described one of the ways to solve this problem: people need to become immanent with nature to make their ideas and thoughts of it really natural and true. If people are able to experience amazement at the nature – being immanent with it, they can achieve such stage of recognizing when nature itself speaks to them and through them.
There are a lot of places on the Earth where nature is beautiful and amazing, but in the North we have real possibility to become immanent with it. This possibility is based on the peculiar relationship between the human being and the Earth in the North. Rudolf Steiner said that in high latitude zone the human being is more dependent on his body and has more close connection with outer world through the lungs, which have to work much more intensively than in a temperate or hot climate. Lungs are connected not only with air but with all spiritual Earth organization which has a cosmic origin. Karl König points out two expressions of this phenomenon. Firstly, the human being breathes in and breathes out 25,920 times in twenty-four hours, and we know that Plato’s year has exactly this number of years. We also know that lungs have a very deep connection with the blood in which human “I” manifests itself, so when lungs meet blood, the meeting between Cosmic Spirit and human “I” takes place. Secondly, lungs supply our brain with carbon that is the substance through which World Cosmic Images incarnate in organic structure. And lungs are connected with our memory, exactly with those thoughts which concern our ideas of outer world and conceptions.[3] Of course, all this activity realizes itself in every human being all over the world, but in northern regions these processes are more intensive because lungs have to be more active.
The other mystery of the North is connected with time. Since the end of the XX century, the International Institute of Cosmic Anthropo-ecology has been investigating problems of transpersonal connections in polar and over-pole latitudes. It’s a fact that the Nentsy, Evenky, Chukchy, and some other northern ethnic groups assemble for their meetings in one place and at the same time without any previous appointments. Moreover, some of them are able to see by “inner vision” human beings, animals or other things at a distance of many kilometers. Scientists try to connect such extra abilities of Far North Aborigines with peculiar properties of time in high latitudes. Russian astrophysist Nikolay Kozyrev, who was repressed and imprisoned in Norilsk (situated over the Polar Circle) from 1939 till 1946, discovered that time is a peculiar flood which has its own density, speed and direction. He presumed that transition from cause to consequence is realized by flood of time and that the last one has the same value but opposite direction in cause and consequence. Investigating influence of time flood – as supplementary power – on the weight of physical body, he computed that 73°05´ of northern latitude is the parallel where the value of time flood equals nought (geographically, it is the southern boundary of a polar day). N. Kozyrev thought that the cause-consequence connection in this region has peculiar character which influences human psychical abilities and that telepathy can become clear as a possibility of biological connection through time.[4] A lot of Russian and foreign scientists disagree with Kozyrev’s explanation of psychological extra-abilities and the physical anomalies that take place in high latitudes, but they cannot deny the existence of such phenomena. From a spiritual scientific point of view, in polar and over-pole regions, the human being has an immediate experience of the Sun’s influence and this fact means a peculiar experience of space and time.
Space and time have real connection with the thinking process: human thinking – at least since the XV century – has spatial orientation, but Gods, connected with human beings, think in succession of time. So, contemporary mankind is not understandable for Gods and it’s absolutely evident that Spiritual World – Divine World – is not understandable for human beings! And it’s the great task of human evolution to understand and recognize spiritual beings and to become understandable for Spirits. We can fulfill this task if we try to move away from spatial ideas to experience time in our thinking. It’s possible to do so through an anthroposophical way of cognition; however, human beings can find special “prompt” for this kind of experience in the North. For example, Rudolf Steiner mentioned that in the IV century Scandinavian people could still recognize divine teaching, and Spirits of High Divine Hierarchies traveled between them as teachers. It’s possible to discover legacy of this in folk characters of the Scandinavian peoples even now.[5]
The other significant and important question is: why do human beings need mutual understanding with spiritual beings? Because of conditions of their development, human beings have to “steal” spiritual substance from the Earth and it’s impossible for them to give it back; human souls need this substance in spiritual world between death and rebirth. From the other side, human beings have to leave in the Earth spiritualized substance of their heads, because it’s impossible to bring it into spiritual world after death. However, this substance is like a kind of poison for the Earth Being. So, mankind has a great “space debt” to the Earth and it needs Spiritual Being’s help to recompense this debt, which is the part of World Karma.[6] This compensation takes place constantly and will continue until the end of the Earth existence, but the need to perceive some Spiritual beings is actually for mankind already now. In his 1921 lectures about possibilities of human development, Rudolf Steiner noted that from the end of the XIX century some cosmic spiritual beings have entered earth development and the quantity of such beings increases. These cosmic beings from different parts of the Universe must be perceived by human beings; otherwise all earth existence will fall into chaos.[7]
Only a few people have this kind of knowledge. Some more people realize that a deep crisis of human cognition is really dangerous for mankind’s future, but a lot of people feel and experience subconsciously that they need to understand the real human task in the earthly being and the real human position between nature and Gods. Only a few people recognize that human beings must enliven their thoughts to get real knowledge of mankind and its place in the Universe, but many more people feel an aspiration for the North and since the end of the XIX century, plenty of expeditions have tried to reach the North Pole. A great investigator of the North, Fritiof Nansen, said that one of the missions of northern expeditions was to get a new knowledge for future generations.
Contemporary people have all the possibilities and support they need to fulfill their tasks, but they must be awakened concerning them. And if members of the Conference Encircling Light – Expectant Silence can experience together and understand – at least to some extent – this northern “prompt”, mankind will make a real step, even if a small one, in its development.

[1] Plato: Dialog “Fedr”. Collected works – Moscow,1993
[2] Schedrovitsky G.P. : Synthesis of Knowledge: Problems and Methods – Moscow,1997
[3] König K.: Earth and Man – Kaluga, 2001
[4] Kozyrev N.A. “Unknown World ” / October,1964,№7
[5] ANTHROPOS. Encyclopedia of Spiritual Science – Moscow, 1999
[6] Steiner R.: Der Mensch als Zusammenklang des schaffenden, bildenden und gestaltenden Weltenwortes (in Russian) – Erevan, 2007
[7] ANTHROPOS. Encyclopedia of Spiritual Science – Moscow, 1999

Congrès Encircling Light : Mise à jour

Il ne reste plus que deux mois avant le début de notre congrès. Lors de cette mise à jour de la première semaine de juin, on compte un total de 174 participants provenant de 12 pays. Les 116 participants du Canada viendront de partout au pays, dont 3 du Yukon même. Trois inscriptions nous sont parvenues de la Russie, une autre de l’Islande, et seize des pays nordiques, comprenant la Finlande. Dix participants viendront de l'Europe centrale et vingt-cinq des U.S.A., dont 5 de l’Alaska. Et, nous avons reçu deux inscriptions du Nigeria.

Parmi ce nombre se trouvent trois membres du Comité directeur à Dornach et trois secrétaires-généraux des pays nordiques. 115 des participants sont membres de l'École de Science de l’Esprit.

L’image décrite ci-dessus est remarquable et témoigne de la manière dont cet événement a réellement touché des vies partout, non seulement dans le Nord mais aussi ailleurs dans le monde. Je viens de rentrer de la réunion conjointe du Collegium de l’École de Science de l’Esprit en Amérique du Nord avec le Conseil général de la Société aux E.U. A. et le « Council of Anthroposophical Initiatives ». Tout le monde y a exprimé des pensées d'encouragement pour notre congrès, comme le font beaucoup d'entre vous qui ne pourrez pas être des nôtres.

Je tiens à remercier chacun de vous qui depuis les trois dernières années avez fait des dons pour défrayer les coûts de ceux qui portent la responsabilité du congrès. Ces fonds se chiffrent maintenant à plus de $26,000; ils comprennent des dons provenant : de membres individuels à travers le Canada; des différents groupes de membres de Vancouver; de la Fondation pour les Initiatives anthroposophiques du Canada; de l'atelier de fin de semaine sur la méditation avec Arthur Zajonc tenue à Vancouver; et de l'atelier de fin de semaine sur Parzival donnée en janvier à Toronto sous l'égide de Arscura. Signalons que les dons de certains de nos membres individuels ont été particulièrement généreux.

Une partie des dons provenant de la fin de semaine avec Arthur Zajonc a aidé à défrayer les coûts de participation de Tatiana Pavlova, membre du Conseil de la Société en Russie. Les membres de Fairbanks, en Alaska, ont contribué à faire venir Olga Kornienko, également membre du Conseil en Russie; et ISIS nous aide à assurer la participation de Alexey Koscheev, médecin de Kirov. Une partie des fonds donnés par la Fondation pour les Initiatives anthroposophiques du Canada (qui a répondu à notre demande dans un très court délai) a rendu possible la collaboration de Sigrun Gunnarsdóttir, d’Islande.

Encore une fois, un grand merci à chacun de vous – vous portez ce congrès sur le Nord dans vos pensées et dans vos cœurs depuis les trois dernières années. Nous pensons pouvoir accepter encore quelques inscriptions au mois de juin avant de devoir fermer les inscriptions définitivement.

Philip Thatcher,
Pour le groupe de planification

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Le Nord : en chemin vers le congrès

Chers amis,
Je vous offre l'article qui suit comme ma lettre pour ce numéro de « Glimpses ». Cet article paraîtra dans le numéro estival du bulletin des membres aux E-U-A; quelques extraits paraîtront aussi au mois de juin dans « Anthroposophy Worldwide ».

Au mois d'août prochain, des individus de nombreux pays se réuniront à Whitehorse, au Yukon, pour participer pendant 8 jours au congrès « Encircling Light – Expectant Silence/Lumière boréale – Silence en attente ». Pendant que je continue à préparer la semaine en question, il me semble pertinent de rassembler ici les intentions, les questions, les idées et les nuances exprimées par quelques-uns des participants du congrès.
Lorsque Edna Cox, de Port Alberni en Colombie Britannique, s'est rendue à Whitehorse en août 2006 afin d'entreprendre les préparatifs pour le congrès, elle se demandait comment son imagination du Nord allait cadrer avec la réalité qu'elle y trouverait. La même question fondamentale, sous une forme ou une autre, peut vivre aussi chez d'autres participants, en particulier chez les Canadiens, pour qui « le Nord » est une puissante imagination. Ce « Nord » fait partie de leur sens de qui ils sont mais peut sembler très distant de là où ils vivent en réalité. Alexandra Günther, habitante de l'Ontario qui animera un des ateliers du congrès, s'exprime en ces mots : « Au cœur même de mon désir de faire partie d'un tel événement, désir qui m'habite depuis bien des années, se trouve une interrogation : Quelle est cette attraction que le Nord exerce sur nous qui ne sommes pas ses créatures? Et quelle est l'image du Nord qui habite le cœur et l'esprit des Canadiens (et de bien d'autres) qui n’y ont jamais mis les pieds? »
Les Canadiens ont des images très variées, puissantes, contradictoires de leur « Nord », un état de fait qui a servi à nourrir d'innombrables livres, articles et œuvres d'art. Et pourtant, certaines images semblent universelles. Robbie Black, participant qui habite à West Vancouver, décrit une randonnée en automobile vers le nord à partir d'Edmonton, en Alberta. La ville s'éloigne, ensuite les fermes, et ensuite la dernière grappe de maisons, jusqu'à ce qu'il ne reste plus que la forêt : « Quand la voiture s’immobilise enfin, le silence tombe… une impression délicate se fait jour – il y a quelque chose qui se cache là, se dérobant à la vue superficielle. »
D'autres participants sont attirés par les silences. Certains en ont une idée intuitive, d'autres les ont réellement connus dans cette région du globe. Marjorie Nordås, canadienne qui enseigne actuellement à l'école Norstrand au sud d’Oslo, raconte le voyage dans le Nord qu'elle a fait jadis avec un groupe d'une base militaire de Toronto : « Nous avons donné une représentation dans une base militaire nommée ‘Alert’ située à la frontière entre le Canada et la Russie. J’avais vingt ans, mais c'était ma première expérience intense de la lumière, et ce qui nous a le plus profondément touchés, c'était le silence. »
Jef Saunders, qui à émigré à Toronto de la Grande Bretagne, se sent lui aussi attiré par « la longueur de ces journées si remplies de lumière » et par « le silence, profond et pourtant 'attentif' ». Il se demande aussi quelles intentions spirituelles peuvent se cacher derrière ce paysage, attendant qu'on les appelle à sortir au grand jour. Ou serait-ce en nous-mêmes que se cachent ces intentions, attendant d'être dévoilées au contact du paysage septentrional? Dans les dernières années du 19e siècle, des chercheurs d'or venus du monde entier ont envahi le Yukon. D’après Anthony Perzel, animateur de l'un de nos ateliers, qui se penche sur la question de l'activité des êtres élémentaux dans la richesse des minéraux du Nord et sur la question des influences lucifériennes et ahrimaniennes dans notre exploitation de ces substances : « La recherche de métaux précieux et de diamants est analogue à la recherche de ce qui est 'précieux' en nous-mêmes. »
Pour au moins deux des participants, le congrès fournira un contexte pour comprendre l'importance leur propre région. Olga Kornienko, d’Ekaterinburg en Russie, écrit : « Ici au beau milieu de l’Oural nous vivons d’énormes écarts de température, variant de -40C à +40C, des hivers nordiques enneigés et des étés méridionaux torrides. La chaîne de montagnes, elle, ressemble à une épine dorsale; en effet, dans l'histoire de la Russie elle a toujours joué un rôle de colonne vertébrale. Les gens d'ici sont forts et courageux, particulièrement les femmes. À la fois barrière et portail, l'Oural a réuni différents peuples et différentes religions. Dans le même sens, le fait de rencontrer des personnes de différentes régions de notre planète nous aide à nous rencontrer nous-mêmes et à mieux comprendre notre terre natale; l'autre côté de la terre reflète notre propre pays. »
Et d’Anchorage, en Alaska, Mary Lee Plumb-Mentjes, en collaboration avec sa collègue de Fairbanks, Lisa Del Alba, cherche à comprendre la signification spirituelle de l’Alaska pour le monde. Elle le fait en observant le paysage, l'angle du soleil, les caricatures de ses habitants parues dans la presse, et la célébration de ses 50 années comme état des U.S.A. « En quoi sommes-nous à la fois pareils et différents des autres pays nordiques? Ne pas le savoir est passionnant. C'est la première fois que je fais une recherche anthroposophique prolongée et spécifique. Je me sens un peu intimidée. »
Pour Jorun Carlsen de Tønsberg, en Norvège, le congrès de Whitehorse pourrait être l'occasion de faire avancer les recherches qui, tous depuis 1949, font l'objet des congrès anthroposophiques nordiques d'été, tenus en Scandinavie, en Finlande, et, plus tard, en Islande : « Je sens que maintenant cette impulsion s'étend pour atteindre le continent américain, le Canada, et peut-être même la prochaine fois l’Est nordique – la Russie. Rien ne doit rester statique; tout doit changer avec les temps. Je sens qu'il est très important qu'en tant qu'anthroposophes nous nous reliions au monde spirituel et que nous collaborions avec lui de façon consciente dans différents lieux sur la terre. »
Dans le même ordre d'idées, Marie Kolmos de Copenhague, au Danemark, s'interroge : « Je suis curieuse de savoir à quoi peut ressembler un congrès sur le Nord : Les pensées et les thèmes anthroposophiques y sont-ils différents de ceux du Sud de l’Europe? Comment se déroulerait un congrès sur le Nord qui ne soit pas situé dans un contexte scandinave? ».
Une différence fondamentale saute immédiatement aux yeux : dans un pays du nord de l’Europe, un congrès tenu à une latitude de 60 degrés nord bénéficie de la présence d'une Société anthroposophique, d’initiatives anthroposophiques, et d’une centaine d'années d'activité anthroposophique dans la région. La presque totalité de la Finlande est située au nord du 60e parallèle, ainsi que la plupart du territoire de la Norvège et une importante partie de la Suède. En Islande, on compte à peine quelques membres de la Société, une école Waldorf et une ferme biodynamique, mais tous se trouvent au nord du 60e parallèle. De même en Alaska, où l'on trouve une école Waldorf à Anchorage et, à Fairbanks, quatre membres de l’École de Science de l’Esprit qui se réunissent toutes les semaines pour travailler avec les leçons de la Classe. Au Canada, il existe une seule initiative anthroposophique à une latitude de 60 degrés : le jardin d'enfants Waldorf que tient Chalia Tuzlak à Whitehorse, où elle vit depuis 20 ans. Ayant été obligée, pendant toutes ces années, de faire des milliers de kilomètres pour assister à des congrès pédagogiques, Chalia est étonnée et enthousiaste – un congrès sera tenu chez elle cet été! « On a dit de moi que je suis la gardienne de la flamme dans ce coin du globe, mais comme je n'ai personne avec qui échanger sur des questions anthroposophiques, je n'ai pas eu beaucoup l'occasion de me développer sur cette voie. Par conséquent, ce congrès représente pour moi l'occasion d'acquérir une nouvelle compréhension de ce qui supporte ma vie de tous les jours, et en même temps de découvrir une nouvelle perspective sur le Nord. »
Jim Steil, de Calgary, en Alberta, donne son idée par rapport à cette perspective : « On a tendance à parler de ce congrès sur le Nord comme si le Nord était ‘là-haut’, plus précisément dans la région de l'arctique. Or, il a neigé à Calgary hier, et on n'a pas encore vu une seule feuille. Ce n'est peut-être pas la toundra ici mais je ressens très fortement que dans toutes les régions du Canada nous sommes effectivement dans le Nord. »
La lumière de deux autres thèmes se laisse entrevoir, émanant des pensées des participants. D'une part, une volonté de rencontrer et d'interagir avec les peuples des Premières Nations, pour qui le Nord est leur patrie – une intention et une responsabilité ressenties intensément par Seija Zimmermann et Paul Mackay lorsque, en août dernier, ils sont venus à Whitehorse se réunir avec le Conseil de la Société au Canada. Pour Jonitha et Paul Hasse de Hillsdale, dans l'état de New York, une rencontre avec des amis des Premières Nations s’inscrit dans le contexte d'une problématique de fond – les cultures européennes n'ont pas su « entendre, reconnaître, honorer ou partager les dons spirituels apportés par d'autres peuples. »
Le deuxième thème est celui d'une nouvelle manière de découvrir le Christ : Comment la lumière, le silence et l'étendue du paysage du Nord peuvent-t-ils renforcer et approfondir notre compréhension du Christ éthérique à l'époque actuelle? Dans les mots d'un participant qui vit près d'Edmonton :

Je n'ai jamais été dans le Nord
Cela en soi est une raison pour m’y rendre.
Le mystère plane sur l'endroit –
des vérités encore non découvertes
qui attendent d'être comprises.
De là vient le Christ,
Le Christ dans la terre,
Le Christ en nous.

L'été dernier, au nord du cercle arctique, je me suis retrouvé debout à minuit sur une falaise d'où je pouvais contempler le hameau inuit de Kugluktuk et l'Océan arctique à la hauteur de Coronation Gulf. Le soleil planait à quelques degrés au-dessus de l'horizon nord – comme s'il était sur le point de retourner à l'endroit où il a jadis quitté la terre. Mais voilà qu'au bout d'un moment le coucher de soleil s'est transformé en lever de soleil; le soleil s'est mis à remonter dans le ciel, comme pour me rappeler que le Christ-Soleil arrive dans le Nord par un autre chemin, par la voie d'une activité humaine pénétrée de chaleur.
Et, pour terminer, ces paroles de Paul Mackay : « Ce congrès de Whitehorse revêt un caractère spécial, non seulement par son thème 'd’expectative' mais aussi grâce à la manière dont il a été préparé. Chaque étape a été contemplée dans le silence et conçue avec soin; les contacts avec les individus impliqués ont été faits de la façon la plus humaine possible. Tout ceci crée une base admirable sur laquelle ce congrès peut se dérouler : Que la lumière boréale enveloppante illumine ce congrès! »

Philip Thatcher
Secrétaire général pour le Canada

Encircling Light Conference - Update

Encircling Light Conference - August 1st to 8th, 2009, Whitehorse, Yukon

Our conference is now just two months away. As of this first week in June, 174 participants from twelve countries are registered in total. 116 are from across Canada, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, with 3 from the Yukon. Three registrations come from Russia, one from Iceland, and sixteen from the Nordic countries, including Finland. There are ten participants from Central Europe. The twenty-five registrations from the United States include five from Alaska. And we have two participants from Nigeria.

Three members of the Executive Council will be with us and three Nordic General Secretaries. 115 participants are members of the School for Spiritual Science.

The picture above is a remarkable one and bears witness to the way in which this upcoming event truly has touched lives around the North and elsewhere in our world. I have just returned from a joint meeting of the Collegium for the School of Spiritual Science, the General Council of the US Society and the Council of Anthroposophical initiatives. All present were carrying good thoughts from our conference, as are many of you in the Society here who are not able to be with us.

I want to thank everyone in our Society who over the past three years has donated funds to support those who are carrying program responsibility during the conference week. These funds now total just over $26,000 and include donations from individual members across Canada, the members groups in Vancouver, support from the Anthroposophical Foundation of Canada, donations from the Michaelmas Meditation weekend in Vancouver with Arthur Zajonc and the January Parzival weekend in Toronto hosted by Arscura. Several donations from individual members were especially generous.

Some of the funds from the Arthur Zajonc weekend went toward supporting the participation of Tatiana Pavlova, a member of the Council of the Society in Russia. Members in Fairbanks, Alaska are supporting Olga Kornienko, also on the Russian Council, and ISIS is supporting Alexey Koscheev, a doctor from Kirov. A portion of the funds given by the Anthroposophical Foundation of Canada, on very short notice, has made possible the participation of our program carrier from Iceland, Sigrun Gunnarsdóttir.

Again, thank you, each of you, who have carried this Conference on the North within your thoughts and hearts during these past three years. We are leaving the door for further registrations open into June, until it becomes clear that the moment to close registration has come.

Philip Thatcher,
For the Planning Group

Monday, June 1, 2009

From Judy King In Nova Scotia

At the Annual General Meeting of the Anthroposophical Society on 16 May I became a member of the Council of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada. I would like to introduce myself briefly to you. I am a Waldorf teacher (and Faculty Chair) at the South Shore Waldorf School, Lunenburg County, one hour's drive southwest of Halifax. I have been teaching there since the school opened in 1996. It is a very small but growing, rural school. I have one more year teaching full-time before partially retiring. In 1972 my husband, first son, and I immigrated to Canada from England and settled in Cape Breton Island, NS, where our two other children were born. In our early days there I first learned about anthroposophy and Waldorf education.

As a new member of the council, living in the Maritimes, I would very much like to hear from other members of the society and friends in the east - New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia. I would like to be in contact and to hear any ideas you may have of whether or how the Council, and myself as its representative, might be able to be of service to the life of anthroposophy in your area. I am interested, too, in feeling more connected to other parts of Canada, in seeing Canada in its entirety (so huge!), and how this path of anthroposophy lives there in its people. I know from experience that we, on the east coast, sometimes feel like we're out on a limb (admittedly, I think we often like that feeling, but at times we feel cut off!)

Mainly, I wanted to introduce myself and let you know that on the Council we want to be helpful to members of the society and friends, and I would be very grateful to hear from you.

Best wishes from Nova Scotia!
Judy King. Address: PO Box 711, Mahone Bay, NS. B0J 2E0.
Phone: (902) 624-0781.