Friday, August 31, 2012

Letter From Maria Helms

Hello dear friends and members in Canada,

I am happily back in this beautiful country - this time at the foot of Mt. Nemo.  And this is my new address: 5377 Walker's Line, Burlington, ON, L7M 0P9,  (Tel. 416-836-8993).  I will be teaching Eurythmy at the Halton Waldorf School and I have rejoined the Northern Star Eurythmy Group.

Michaelmas Celebration  The earth is a living being with a soul. In winter, earth and soul are one. In summer, earth and soul are two. Soul moves out of earth into the cosmos. At Easter, the soul travels out of the earth into the cosmos bringing everything dead to life. At Michaelmas, the earth soul travels from cosmos to earth. Michael brings back the soul from the clouds so soul and earth unite, with the request to man being: unite on a social level. Let your deeds make sense for others. Let everything you do originate in the spirit, in the cloud that Michael brings toward the earth. The motive for the festival is purely in the spiritual with the aim that all men would unite in feeling, so we learn to become socially reliable and find deeds that connect earth and cosmos, spirit and earth, bringing spirit back to man.

Maria Helms invites all interested in the creating of a festival on Michaelmas day, Sat. Sept. 29th, to her house, for Eurythmy, a potluck meal, and a sunset to moonrise walk on Mt. Nemo. Please call her if you are interested. 
From Rudolf Steiner's "Festivals and their Meaning": "We must also understand what it means for us and for our age that the soul of the earth is exhaled at midsummer into the far reaches of the cosmos, is there united with the stars and then returns. He who fathoms the secrets of the earth's journey during the course of the year will know that the Michael force now descends with the returning nature forces, which it did not do in former centuries. As autumn approaches and the leaves begin to fall to earth, we can therefore go forward to meet the descent of Michael's power from the clouds...."

"....a special relationship was established between the archangelic power, that being whom we call the archangel Michael, and the destiny of mankind. I have drawn your attention to the fact that, since November 1879, Michael must be as it were the ruler and guide for all those who seek to bring to humanity the forces necessary for its healthy progress.

When one speaks of such matters today, two things have to be taken into account: firstly, the objective fact; but secondly also the way this objective fact is connected with what people are willing to receive into their consciousness, into their will. The objective fact is simply this, that in November 1879, beyond the sphere of the sense world, in the supersensible world, that event took place which may be described as follows: Michael had attained the power to permeate people with his strength if they came towards him with all that lives in their souls, so that they can transform the old, materialistic force of intellect and understanding -- which had become so widespread and dominant in humanity -- into a force of spiritual understanding...."

Winter Retreat.  I am also planning to celebrate the Holy Nights with the Foundation Stone Meditation by Rudolf Steiner, with Stars, Peace and Silence.  Please call me if you think you would like to participate.

Best thoughts,
Maria Helms

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Action Research In Ann Arbor

- by Mark McAlister

The Anthroposophical Society in America recently hosted two important events in Ann Arbor, Michigan:
  • Leadership Colloquium (8-9 August)
  • "That Good May Become" - a Conference for Members (9-12 August) Conference website

For the past couple of weeks I have been wondering where to start.  How can I characterize the richness - the bewilderment - of my Ann Arbor experience?  Yesterday, some help arrived in the form of a quote from a book by Torin Finser:

"'Action Research' is the way groups of people organize the conditions under which they can learn from their own experience." ( David Hopkins, quoted by Torin Finser in Research, AWSNA 1995, pp 9-10). 

Then it  struck me: we all need to learn together.  Rudolf Steiner did not prescribe (or proscribe!) the particular forms that the Anthroposophical Society would need to develop as the decades progressed.  It's up to us to ensure that the our work in the Society connects with real life, and contributes in tangible ways to social health. 

Much will be written and posted in upcoming months about the Ann Arbor proceedings and follow-up initiatives, including contributions from Canadian members.  This will help us to form a shared image of new forms and channels that are needed for our work.

In the next article, I write about the current structure of the Society in North America and provide some context for our emerging dialogue.

Clarity About Our Structure

- by Mark McAlister

A prerequisite  for shared vision in any community is a clear understanding of the current structure.  The diagram below summarizes the key relationships in the structure of the Anthroposophical Society in North America.  If we start with simple diagrams like this, we can start agreeing on WHO needs to do WHAT.

At the centre of the diagram is the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society (GAS).  This group is responsible for several tasks that relate directly to the work of our Society in North America, including:
  1. Overseeing the work of the School For Spiritual Science In North America
  2. Working with the American and Canadian General Secretaries (and their Councils), and ensuring  continuity with the activities of the World Society (GAS)
  3. Signing membership cards (not shown in diagram)
The United States and Canada each have incorporated a national organization:  
  • The Anthroposophical Society in America (ASA), which is governed by a General Council, and 
  • The Anthroposophical Society in Canada (ASC) which is governed by a National Council.
Over the past decade, two new organizations have been taking shape:
  • The Collegium of the School For Spiritual Science In North America (N.A.Collegium).  It is a continental organization with a direct relationship to the Executive Council at the Goetheanum.  It receives budget support from both National Societies.
  • The Council of Anthroposophical Organizations (CAO).  CAO brings together people who are active in the movement.  Its mandate is also continental, although it currently exists as a committee of the ASA.
  • In Canada, Class Holders in the School For Spiritual Science have met annually with the National Council.  These innovative meetings are a unique and fruitful new form of collaboration.
  • In the USA, the General Council has also been exploring new possibilities for collaboration with the School For Spiritual Science through meetings with Class Holders and with the Collegium
 One final note:  In her talk at the Conference, Virginia Sease spoke extensively about the verse by Rudolf Steiner that was originally given for Ralph Courtney of the Threefold Group in New York.  (The verse was also presented beautifully at the Conference by Eurythmy Spring Valley.)  This verse has come to be known as the "America Verse," but it is unclear what this means for us in Canada.   Here is another opportunity for us to explore in  more depth our relationship with  friends south of the border! 


Monday, August 27, 2012

News From Calgary

- by John Glanzer

Dear Society Members and Friends,

As we move through these later vestiges of summer and into the autumn season, there are two items worthy of note.

Firstly, most of you are likely aware of the landmark event that took place this summer, when Dr. Alissa Gaul of Resonance Wellness and her Alberta Association of Naturopathic Doctors received recognition within the Alberta Health Professions Act, and received self-governing status. A huge congratulations to Dr. Gaul who spearheaded this work over many years and will now stand as the first President of the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta. Details at

Secondly, please join us Monday, September 3rd at 7:00pm for an evening with two special visitors travelling through Calgary.

    Isabela Seabra, Biographical Counsellor & Fibre Artist is passing through Calgary on her way to the Christian Community Church Seminary in Spring Valley. Isabella first came to Canada via Calgary some years ago and we look forward to sharing life experiences with her on this brief return trip.

    Monka Pudelko, Eurythmist is touring Canada from Germany and will be in Calgary August 28th to September 5th. Monika is eager to meet with fellow Anthroposophists and will join us September 3rd in conversation, and with a brief eurythmy performance.

We will meet at the home of Theresia Schier, 24 Cougarstone Cove S.W. who has graciously offered her space. Please RSVP to Tessi at  or  403-503-1147 so she can anticipate numbers. Directions provided on request.

Letter From Judy King

                                                                                       Big Baddeck, Cape Breton Island,
                                                                                       Nova Scotia.
                                                                                       19 August 2012
Dear Friends,

I want to respond to Colin Rioux-Beausejour’s inviting letter in Glimpses Summer 2012, introducing Vers les Sources group members and their work together, in the Sherbrooke area, Quebec.   It is so encouraging to hear about the inspiring work that others are doing.   It is of much interest.   I want to tell you some of the things that are going on in the Maritimes.    Nova Scotia has been my home for forty years.  

In NS there are 17 members of the Anthroposophical Society.  There is an open triangle of Society activity from Halifax to the South Shore to the Annapolis Valley and Digby.    I want you to see that we are spread out over the geographical area, and although it maylook like we are close together when you look on a map, travel is very often required for us to meet together, logistics need careful consideration.   Members come together for festival celebrations at least four times in the year, friends included, with a meal, reading and artistic offerings, moving the location about the region.   At any one time there may be two or three or more study groups in different places;  last fall a group met at the Waldorf school to study threefold social order and how it might apply today to governance of a small school;  this fall, a group in the Digby area will study the Karma Series of lectures.   Last year a need was felt for the first time to get together as members for an annual meeting.   We are, loosely, the Nova Scotia Anthroposophical Group, which includes a sub-group of six ‘business-carrying’ members who mostly manage finances from a bequest made many years ago for anthroposophical work in Nova Scotia, by Hans and Lotte Castelliz.   Money from this source has been used to support Waldorf teacher training and development, curative training, lectures and conferences, sending a member per year to the Society AGM, and more.   A ‘lending community’ has been set up to enable the South Shore Waldorf School & Kindergarten to raise money for new classrooms.  The Waldorf school (50+ students in two kindergartens, grades 1/2, 3/4 and 5/6) is in Blockhouse, near Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Bridgewater, about an hour’s drive southwest of Halifax.   (The school was the reason I came to the South Shore from my home in Cape Breton sixteen years ago, as the first teacher.)   In New Brunswick there are 4 Society members.   There will be a new Waldorf-inspired school opening this September near Fredericton, Knowlesville Art & Nature School.  

We feel fortunate having Arthur Osmond as Classholder in Nova Scotia.   7/8 members have been attending monthly Class Lessons for two years.    We will complete the cycle of nineteen lessons in September, when we shall decide together how we wish to proceed.   There never was a classholder living in NS before.   I have been a member of the School since 1999, and was seriously wondering why, when Arthur and Margaret with their daughter, came to live in Dartmouth.   There is a feeling of preparing ground with this work.

As a retired-from-the-classroom Waldorf teacher I am greatly encouraged by how much interest there is in Waldorf education here;  parent groups have formed and started playgroups in Halifax and Annapolis Royal, and there are Waldorf-inspired homeschooling groups dotted around.   Recently I have talked to interested parents in Cape Breton.   In Nova Scotia, population is small, with distances always to be bridged.   In Halifax there is a parenting initiative run by Carol Nasr, who is also supporting a parent-run playgroup there, with mentoring and workshops.   Arthur and Margaret Osmond are active in giving support to anthroposophy, Waldorf education and eurythmy. Teachers and parents/families are also supported by Waldorf East, which put on its sixth annual conference this year at the South Shore Waldorf School; and also organizes lectures and workshops.   Ontario is not too far away (1500 kms!) with Waldorf teacher training at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto.   Some SSWS teachers were educated there, myself included.   It is hard to express adequately how grateful I am to have had that experience.   Some have taken part in the distance foundation studies course (RSCT), of which I hear excellent reports.   Others have been trained at the West Coast Institute in British Columbia, and they too are grateful for the excellent courses there.   Some of the SSWS teachers have not had Waldorf training, but are very keen to be trained.   There have been requests for training closer to home.   It is impossible for some to travel away.   What is being carried out piecemeal at present adds up to excellent support for teachers and parents, but there’s a feeling that an integrated course would be beneficial.
An anthroposophical foundation studies course will start in September (a requirement for Waldorf teacher training).   True to the nature of how courses are often initiated, I was asked several times by one of my colleagues before I retired, if it would be a possibility for me to lead such a course.   It is dear to my heart, for several reasons:  to be able to respond to an individual’s wish for knowledge, which gave the inspiration!   I love to read anthroposophical books with others, it helps to sort things out;  the school community being a young one anthroposophically-speaking (are we not, most of us?) I welcome the thought of another avenue opening up for an anthroposophical approach to life there.   The course is supported morally and financially by the NS Group to get started;  it looks likely that it will be self-sustainable this year.   There will be participants on the South Shore and in the Valley, with a leader in each location:  all participants will come together periodically.   Five books written by Steiner will be studied over the year, starting with How to Know Higher Worlds.   There will be arts/science sessions as part of the course, opened up to wider participation;  this, in addition to the joy of sharing the subject matter, will help the course become self-sustainable financially (first session:  Earth Science given by Dr Duncan Keppie, geologist, ASC member, The Spirit of the Earth, Our Home.   Developing inner organs to gain spiritual insights into the planet we live on.   A day in Minas Basin, NS).   Can we dare to hope that this will be the first year of a continuing course?   At this stage, it’s a beginning, and we’re open to what it brings us, without proscribed expectations.

There is bio-dynamic farming, gardening and beekeeping in Nova Scotia.   Bio-dynamic farming, composting, and beekeeping workshops are offered.   Through last year there was an active bio-dynamic study group initiated by a gardener on the South Shore, who is introducing bio-d methods into her CSA market garden.

In Wolfville is the Alexander Society which has brought Steiner’s insights into curative work with children and adolescents for many years, as well as bringing speakers/workshop leaders from England and North America for public presentations.

There is more than this, but I will not go on.   What I have described is the outer ‘skin’ of much human activity inspired by anthroposophy.   Imagine all the preparation and work, the joys and the challenges of the spiritual and earthly worlds that has brought into existence these human endeavours!     There is so much going on unseen, which will prove important and supporting for anthroposophy in the future I believe.   I am an optimist, especially as I meet so many young, and not so young, people today who hold an earnest striving to enliven the world with their loving care for the good.  

Thank you, Colin and all the individuals in your group, for stimulating me to write.

Greetings from Nova Scotia to all, and blessings on your anthroposophical adventures!
Judy King.    

Monday, August 20, 2012

Arscura Recognized For Biography Training

- by Regine Kurek and Dorothy LeBaron

Arscura School for Living Art receives recognition for Biography Training

In the first week of June, with the Venus occultation in progress, Dorothy LeBaron and Regine Kurek attended the International Trainers Forum (ITF) meeting at the Goetheanum in Dornach.  The ITF is a newly formed (2003) body of professionals working in the field of biography who in conjunction with the School of Spiritual Science have developed guidelines for professional biography trainings.

One year ago the Arscura curriculum was presented to the ITF for recognition and this June that recognition was granted. With the recognition also comes a commitment on the part of Arscura to become a permanent member of the ITF. This requires attendance at the annual three-day meetings, being co-responsible for furthering the quality and development of the biography impulse based on anthroposophy worldwide, sharing the task of further research, and supporting and mentoring new trainings.

At this point recognition has been granted to biography trainings in Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Israel, Great Britain, Brazil, Australia, USA and Canada.

Every other year this group of people also organizes a Worldwide Biography Conference in which several hundred people attend from all corners of the world. The next Conference will take place June 27th to 30th 2013 at Emerson College, UK.

The Arscura biography training was established by Regine Kurek in 1997 as Life-as-Art Biography Studies. An integrated artistic process in each term of the course makes the Arscura biography program unique. This methodology of working out of an art process makes a contribution to other trainings that are more oriented towards the field of counseling. 

Through this conscious connection to a worldwide organization we all grow stronger and our Canadian initiative out of Anthroposophy becomes more visible.   


Cultivating Communication

- by Dorothy LeBaron and Mark McAlister

Dear Members,

One of the main questions meeting the council at this time is in the area of communication. How do we meet the challenge of facilitating communication? How do we create a vehicle for members’ voices to be heard? How do we become visible to each other? How do we develop an interest in each other, in what is happening across Canada in the various groups and Branches?

As a first step, the editor has occasionally included a “Local Activities” section in the eNews and Glimpses.  This is a place where members can publicize their local events. This section is also intended to inform and to create interest and curiosity about what other groups are doing. For instance, an article about the Sherbrooke Group Towards The Sources was featured in a recent issue, and contained this invitation:  “We send our warmest greetings to all Canadian members. We’d love to have news.  Perhaps each group, big or small, could take turns in writing a little something about themselves for this bulletin.  It could cultivate the feeling of being part of a larger community.”

Thank you Colin!  Your article will no doubt stimulate other members to contribute.  If there was at least one article like this in EVERY issue of the newsletter, the sense of community in our Society would become so much stronger.

To help make this happen, we suggest that each Branch or group designate someone who will collect possible articles and event notices, and be a liaison with the newsletter editor.  We would list all the contact information in the newsletter, and encourage members to get in touch with each other and start a dialogue. 

If you need encouragement or assistance, don’t hesitate to contact the editor. He will be happy to discuss your ideas with you and help get your creative juices flowing.

Dorothy LeBaron, for the Council
Mark McAlister, Newsletter Editor