Friday, June 23, 2017

Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother

Honor thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.  Deuteronomy 5:16

Related post:

Yes! Yes! 25,920 times Yes!

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”   ― E. E. Cummings

The Alchemy Of Yoga: Conceiving The Christ In Us Through The Loving Intercourse of the Spirit Father and the Earth Mother

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved."  — John 3:16-17

The Four Seasons and the Archangels. Lecture 4 of 5.
Rudolf Steiner, October 12, 1923:

If now we go forward from Easter, the spring festival, we shall need to penetrate much more spiritually into the subject than we had to do in considering the previous seasons of the year. This may sound like a contradiction, but it is not so. In thinking of the Christmas season, we had to start from the way in which earthly mineral limestone is gradually transformed, and we carried this thought over to the time of Easter. In general, we have been turning our eyes on the active working of the spiritual in the material realm. Now in summer, high summer, man is really bound up with the being of Nature. From spring onwards into summer, Nature becomes constantly more active, more satisfied inwardly, and man with his whole being is woven into this mood of Nature. We can indeed say that in high summer man experiences a kind of Nature-consciousness. During spring, if he has the perception and feeling for it, he becomes one with all that is growing and sprouting. He blossoms with the flower, germinates with the plant, fruits with the plant, enters into everything that lives and has its being in the world outside. In this way he spreads out his own being over the being of Nature, and a kind of Nature-consciousness arises in him. Then, since in autumn Nature dies away and thus bears death within itself, man too, if he participates in what autumn — the time of Michaelmas — means for Nature, must experience in himself this dying away; but with his own self he must not take part in it. He must raise himself above it. In place precisely of a Nature-consciousness, a strengthening of his self-consciousness must occur. But in the glow of summer, just because a Nature-consciousness is then at its height in man, it is all the more necessary for the cosmos that — if only man is willing — the cosmos should bring the spiritual to meet him.
Hence we can say: In summer man is bound up with Nature, but, if he has the right feeling and perception for it, objective spirituality comes toward him from out of Nature's interweaving life. And so, to find the essential human being during the St. John's time, at midsummer, we must turn to the objective spirituality in the outer world, and this is present everywhere in Nature. Only in outward appearance is Nature the sprouting, budding — one might say the sleeping — being which calls forth from the powers of sleep the forces of vegetative growth, in which a kind of sleeping Nature-life is given form. But in this sleeping Nature, if only man has the perception for it, the spiritual which animates and weaves through everything in Nature is revealed.
So it is that if we follow Nature in high summer with deepened spiritual insight and with perceptive eyes, we find our gaze directed to the depths of the Earth itself. We find that the minerals down there send their inner crystal-forming process toward us more vividly than at any other time of the year. If we look with Imaginative perception into the depths of the Earth at St. John's-tide, we really have the impression that down there are the crystalline forms in which the hard earth consolidates itself — the very crystalline forms which gain their full beauty at the height of summer. At midsummer everything down below the earth shapes itself into lines, angles, and surfaces. If we are to have an impression of it as a whole, we must picture this crystallizing process as an interweaving activity, colored throughout with deep blue.

Plate V

I will try to show it on the blackboard, though of course I can do so only in a quite sketchy way (see Plate V). So we can say: On looking downwards, we have an impression of line-like forms, suffused with blue, and everywhere the blue is shot through with lines which sparkle like silver, so that everywhere within the silver-sparkling blue the crystallizing process (white) can be discerned. It is as though Nature wishes to present her formative power in a wonderful plastic design, but a design that cannot be seen in the way we see with ordinary eyes. It is seen in such a way that one really feels oneself dissolved into the plastic design, and feels every silver-gleaming line down there to be within oneself, part of oneself. One feels that as a human form one has grown out of the blue depths of the Earth's crust, and one feels oneself inwardly permeated with force by the silver-gleaming crystal lines. All this one feels as part of one's own being. And if one comes to oneself and asks — How is it that these silver-sparkling crystal lines and waves are working within myself? What is it that lives and works there, silver-gleaming in the blue of the Earth? — then one knows: That is cosmic Will. And one has the feeling of standing upon cosmic Will.
So it is when one looks down into the depths of the Earth. And if one looks up to the heights, how is it then? The impression one has is of outspreading cosmic Intelligence. Human intelligence — as I have often said — is not of much value at its present stage. But the heavens at midsummer give one the feeling that cosmic Intelligence is alive everywhere — the intelligence not of single beings but of many beings who live together and within one another. Thus we have up there the outspreading Intelligence woven through with light; the living Intelligence shining forth (yellow) as the polaric opposite of the Will. And while down below we feel — in that blue darkness everything is experienced only as forces, up above we feel — everything is such that in perceiving it we are illumined, permeated, with a feeling of intelligence.
And now within this radiant activity there appears — I cannot put it otherwise — a  form. When we were speaking of autumn, I had to name Michael as the most significant figure who rises before our souls out of the weaving of Nature. As to how Gabriel — to use the old name — enters into the time of Christmas, we shall have more to say. In the last lecture I showed you how at Easter, the season of spring, the figure of Raphael comes before us. He comes in dramatic guise, as the mediator who arouses in us the rightful approach, through reverence and worship, to what the Easter Imagination, the cosmic Easter Imagination, is. And now, for the St. John's time, there comes before us — to describe it in human terms, which are of course bound to be only approximate — an extraordinarily earnest countenance, which arises glowing warmly out of the pervading radiant Intelligence (red head in the yellow,Plate V). We have the impression that this figure forms its body of light out of the radiant Intelligence. And for this to happen at the height of summer, something I have already described must come in: the elemental spirits of the Earth must soar upwards. As they do so, they weave themselves into the shining Intelligence up above, and the shining Intelligence receives them into itself. And out of that gleaming radiance the figure I have just mentioned takes form.
This form was divined by the old instinctive clairvoyance, and we can give it the same name by which it was known then. We can say: In summer, Uriel appears in the midst of the shining Intelligence.


It is with great earnestness that this representative of the weaving cosmic forces, seeking to embody himself in a vesture of light, appears in the time of summer. There are further things we can observe as the deeds accomplished by Uriel in the radiant light — Uriel, whose own intelligence arises fundamentally from the working together of the planetary forces of our planetary system, supported by the working of the fixed stars of the Zodiac; Uriel, who in his thoughts preserves the thoughts of the cosmos. And so, quite directly, the feeling comes: You clouds of summer, radiant with Intelligence, in which are reflected up above the blue crystal-formations of the earth below, just as these blue crystal-formations mirror in turn the shining Intelligence of the summer clouds — out of your shining there appears in high summer, with earnest countenance, a concentrated Imagination of cosmic Understanding.
Now, the deeds of this embodied cosmic Understanding, this cosmic Intelligence, are woven in light. Through the power of attraction residing in the concentrated cosmic Intelligence of Uriel, the silver forces (white) are drawn upwards, and in the light of this inwardly shining Intelligence, as seen from the Earth, they appear as radiant sunlight, densifying into a glory of gold. One has the immediate feeling that the gleaming silver, streaming up from below, is received by the sunlit radiance above. And the earth-silver — the phrase is quite correct — is changed by cosmic alchemy into the cosmic gold which lives and weaves in the heights.
If we follow these happenings further, on through August, we gain an impression of something that completes the form of Michael, already described. I told you what the sword of Michael is made of, and whence the dragon draws his coiling life. But now, in the radiant beauty which appears spiritually out of the cosmic weaving at the height of summer, we ask ourselves: Whence does Michael, who leads us over to the autumn time of Michaelmas, derive his characteristic raiment — the raiment which first lights up in golden sunshine and then shines forth inwardly as a silver-sparkling radiance within the golden folds? Where does Michael acquire this gold-woven, silver-sparkling raiment? It comes from that which is formed in the heights through the upward-raying silver and the gold that flows to meet it; from the transmutation by the Sun's power of the silver sparkling up from the Earth. As autumn approaches we see how the silver given by the Earth to the cosmos returns as gold, and the power of this transmuted silver is the source of that which goes on in the Earth during winter, as I have described. The Sun-gold, formed in the heights, in the dominion of Uriel, during high summer, passes down to weave and flow through the depths of the Earth, where it animates the elements that in the midst of winter are seeking to become the living growth of the following year.
So you see that when we come to the time of sprouting, springing life, we can no longer speak of matter permeated by spirit, as we speak of the Earth in winter. We have to speak of spirit woven through with matter — that is, with silver and gold.
Of course you must not take all this in a crude sense; you must think of the silver and gold as diluted beyond human measure. Then you will come to feel that all this is a kind of background for the cosmic, light-filled deeds of Uriel, and a clear impression of the countenance and gaze of Uriel will come before you.
We feel a deep longing to understand this remarkable gaze, directed downwards, and we have the impression that we must look around to find out what it signifies. Its meaning first dawns upon the mind when as human beings we learn to look with spiritual eyes still more deeply into the blue, silver-gleaming depths of the Earth in summer. And we see that weaving around these silver-gleaming crystalline rays are shapes — disturbing shapes, I might almost call them — which continually gather and dissolve, gather and dissolve again.
Then we come to perceive — the vision will be different for everyone — that these shapes are human errors which stand out against the natural order of regular crystals here below. And it is on this contrast that Uriel directs his earnest gaze. Here during the height of summer the imperfections of mankind, in contrast to the regularity of the growing crystal forms, are searchingly surveyed. Here it is that from the earnest gaze of Uriel we gain the impression of how the moral is interwoven with the natural.
Here the moral world-order does not exist only in ourselves as abstract impulses. For whereas we habitually look at the realms of Nature and do not ask — is there morality in the growth of plants, or in the process of crystallisation? — now we see how at midsummer human errors are woven into the regular crystals which are formed in the normal course of Nature.
On the other hand, all that is in human virtue and human excellence rises up with the silver-gleaming lines and is seen as the clouds that envelop Uriel (red). It enters into the radiant Intelligence, transmuted into cloud-shaped works of art.
It is impossible to look toward the increasingly earnest gaze of Uriel, directed toward the depths of the Earth, without also seeing there something like wing-like arms, or arm-like wings, raised in earnest admonition, and this gesture by Uriel has the effect of imparting to mankind what I might call the historic conscience. Here at high summer appears the historic conscience, which at the present time has become uncommonly feeble. It appears, as it were, in Uriel's warning gesture.
Of course, you must picture all this as an Imagination. These things are quite real, but I cannot speak of them in the way a physicist speaks of positive and negative, of potential energy and so on. I have to speak in pictures that will come to life in your souls. But everything expressed in these living pictures is reality; it is there.
And now if we have gained the impression of the connection of human morality with the crystalline element below and of human virtues with the shining beauty above, and if we take these connections into our inward experience, the real St. John Imagination will come to meet us. For the St. John Imagination is there, just as we have the Michael Imagination, the Christmas Imagination, the Easter Imagination.
So to spiritual observation there appears, as a kind of culmination, this picture: Above, illuminated as it were by the power of Uriel's eyes, the Dove (white). The silver-sparkling blue below, arising from the depths of the Earth and bound up with human weaknesses and error, is gathered into a picture of the Earth-Mother (blue). Whether she is called Demeter or Mary, the picture is of the Earth-Mother. So it is that in directing our gaze downwards we cannot do otherwise than bring together in Imagination all those secrets of the depths which go to make up the material Mother of all existence; while in all that is concentrated in the flowing form above we feel and experience the Spirit-Father of everything around us. And now we behold the outcome of the working together of Spirit-Father with Earth-Mother, bearing so beautifully within itself the harmony of the earthly silver and the gold of the heights. Between the Father and the Mother we behold the Son (see Plate V). Thus arises this Imagination of the Trinity, which is really the St. John Imagination. The background of it is Uriel, the creative, admonishing Uriel.
That which the Trinity truly represents should not be placed dogmatically before the soul, for then an impression is given that such an idea, or picture, of the Trinity can be separated from the weaving of cosmic life. This is not so. At midsummer the Trinity reveals itself out of the midst of cosmic life, cosmic activity. It stands forth with inwardly convincing power, if — I might say — one has first penetrated into the mysteries of Uriel.
If we were to present St. John's-tide in this way, there would have to be an arched or vaulted background, with the figure of Uriel and his gesture in the manner I have described. And against this background a living picture of the Imagination of the Trinity would have to emerge. Special arrangements would be necessary; the effect would have to be that of painting done instantly, perhaps by making artistic use of vaporous substances or the like. And if the true Imagination of these things is to be called up for people to witness, it must be at St. John's time. At Easter we have the complete picture only when we bring it into dramatic form, with Raphael present as a teacher in the Mystery Play that would have then to be presented; Raphael who leads man into the secrets of healing nature, of the healing cosmos. In a similar way, at St. John's time, all that can then be seen in weaving pictures would have to be transposed into powerful music, so that the cosmic Mystery, as it can be experienced by man at this season of St. John, would speak to our hearts.
We must imagine how all that I have described should find artistic expression, on the one hand, in pictorial and plastic art. But what is experienced in this way must be given life by the musical tones that embody the poetic motif which plays through our souls when we feel our way into great Uriel, active in the light, who calls up in us a powerful impression of the triune, the Trinity. The silver-shining that rays up from below, and is revealed in the form-giving beauty of the light above, must be expressed at St. John's-tide through appropriate musical instruments. Thus we should find, through these musical harmonies, our own inner harmony with the cosmos, for in them the secret of man's living together with the cosmos at St. John's-tide would have to sound forth. All this would have to be given voice in the music, so that in looking up to the heights we would be looking at the weaving gold of the cosmos, and would see the glowing form of Uriel emerging from the light-filled gold and directing his gaze and his gesture down to the Earth, as I have described it. All this would have to be not in any fixed form, but in living movement. That would be one motif, a heavenly motif through which a man can feel himself united, on one side, with the shining cosmic Intelligence.
On the other side, down below, he feels himself united with the tendency to fixed form; with that which is immersed in the bluish darkness from out of which the silvery radiance streams forth. Down there he feels the material foundation of active spiritual being. The Heights become Mysteries, the Depths become Mysteries, and man himself becomes a Mystery within the Mysteries of the Cosmos. Right into his bony system he feels the crystal-forming power. But he feels also how this same power is in cosmic union with the living power of light in the heavens above. He feels how all that comes about through mankind as morality in these Mysteries of the Heights lives and weaves in these Mysteries of the Depths, and in the conjunction between the two. He feels himself no longer sundered from the world around him, but placed within it, united above with the shining Intelligence, in which he experiences, as in the womb of worlds, his own best thoughts. He feels himself united below, right into his bony system, with the cosmic crystallizing force — and again the two united with one another. He feels his death united with the spirit-life of the universe; and he feels how this spirit-life craves to awaken the crystal forces and the silver-gleaming life in the midst of earthly death.
All this, too, would have to sound forth in musical tones — tones which carry these motifs on their wings and make them part of human experience. For these motifs are there. They do not have to be sought out; they can be read from the cosmic activity of Uriel. Here it is that Imagination passes over into Inspiration.
Man, however, lives in a certain sense as an embodied Inspiration, as a being brought into existence by Inspiration, in the Mysteries of the heights and depths and in the Mysteries of their conjunction. He lives in the Mysteries to which the Spirit-Father points upward; the Mysteries to which the Spirit-Mother points downward, the Mysteries which are united by the fact that the Christ, though the working together of the Spirit-Father and the Spirit-Mother, stands directly before the human soul as the sustaining Cosmic Spirit.
That which is woven out of all these cosmic secrets I may put before you somewhat in the following way. It is as though the human being, placed in the midst of all that goes on in high summer, were to feel something like this. The first words endeavor to represent how the gaze of Uriel concentrates itself into Inspiration, united with the Spirit-tones of the whole choir:

Schaue unser Weben
Das leuchtende Erregen
Das wärmende Leben
}The Heights
Lebe irdisch Erhaltendes
Und atmend Gestaltetes —
Als wesenhaft Waltendes
}The Depths
Fühle dein Menschengebeine
Mit himmlischen Scheine
Im waltenden Weltenvereine
}The Midst
The inner being of Man.

Behold our weaving, the kindling radiance, the warming life.

Live in the earth's sustaining, and in the form-giving breathing,
with the power of true being.

Feel your human bones suffused with heavenly glory
in the presiding yoga of the worlds.

Here in these nine lines are the Mysteries of the Heights, the Mysteries of the Depths, and the Mysteries of the Midst, which are also those of the inner being of man. And then we have the whole gathered up as a cosmic statement of these Mysteries of the Heights, the Depths, and the Midst, sounding out as though with organ and trumpet tones:
Es werden Stoffe verdichtet
Es werden Fehler gerichtet
Es werden Herzen gesichtet.
Substances are densified, errors are rectified, hearts are sifted.

Here you have that which can permeate the human being at midsummer, supporting him, exalting him, confirming him — the St. John Imagination filled with Inspiration, the St. John Inspiration filled with Imagination — in these words:
Schaue unser Weben
Das leuchtende Erregen
Das wärmende Leben
}The Heights
Lebe irdisch Erhaltendes
Und atmend Gestaltetes —
Als wesenhaft Waltendes
}The Depths
Fühle dein Menschengebeine
Mit himmlischen Scheine
Im waltenden Weltenvereine
}The Midst
The inner being of Man.
Es werden Stoffe verdichtet
Es werden Fehler gerichtet
Es werden Herzen gesichtet.

Behold our weaving, the kindling radiance, the warming life.

Live in the earth's sustaining, and in the form-giving breathing,
with the power of true being.

Feel your human bones suffused with heavenly glory
in the presiding yoga of the worlds.

Substances are densified,
errors are rectified,
hearts are sifted.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The meaning of surrender on the spiritual path

Rudolf Steiner: "It is difficult sometimes to draw a sharp line of demarcation between judging and letting ourselves be taught by reality. When, however, the difference has once been grasped and when judgment is only employed for the ends of practical life, while for an approach to reality the attitude is taken of allowing ourselves to be taught by the things of the world, then we gradually arrive at a mood of soul which can reveal to us the true meaning of “surrender.” Surrender is a state of mind which does not seek to investigate truth from out of the mind itself, but which looks for truth to come from the revelation that flows out of the things, and can wait until it is ripe to receive the revelation. An inclination to judge or form opinions wants to be continually arriving at truth at every step; surrender, on the other hand, does not set out to force an entrance, as it were, into this or that truth; rather do we seek to educate ourselves and then quietly wait until we attain to that stage of maturity where the truth flows to us from the things of the world, coming to us in revelation and filling our whole being. To work with patience, knowing that patience will bring us further and further in wise self-education — that is the mood of surrender."


Love's Blessing

The words of Benedictus, from scene 7 of Rudolf Steiner’s Mystery Drama “The Portal of Initiation”:

You have been joined by destiny
together to unfold the powers
which are to serve the good in active work.
And while you journey on the path of soul,
wisdom itself will teach you
that the highest goal can be achieved
when souls will give each other spirit certainty,
will join together in faithfulness
for the healing of the world.
The spirit’s guidance has united you in knowledge;
so now unite yourselves for spirit work.
The rulers of this realm bestow on you,
through me, these words of strength:

Light’s weaving essence radiates
from person to person
to fill the world with truth.
Love’s blessing gives its warmth
to souls through souls
to work and weave the bliss of all the worlds.
And messengers of spirit 
join human works of blessing
with purposes of worlds.
And when those who find themselves in others
join with each other
the light of spirit radiates through warmth of soul.

The Four Seasons and the Archangels. Lecture 3: The Easter Imagination

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, October 7, 1923:
We must realize clearly how it is that in the depths of winter the Earth, in relation to the cosmos, is a being enclosed within itself. During the winter the Earth is, so to speak, wholly Earth, with a concentrated Earth-nature. In high summer — to add this contrast for the sake of clarity — the Earth is given over to the cosmos, lives with the cosmos. And in between, during spring and autumn, there is always a balance between these extremes.
All this has the deepest significance for the Earth's whole life. Naturally, what I shall be saying applies only to that part of the Earth's surface where a corresponding transition from winter to spring takes place.
Let us start, as we have always done in these lectures, by considering the purely material side. We will look at the salt-deposits, which we have had to treat as the most important factor in wintertime. We will study this first in the limestone deposits, which are indeed a phenomenon of the utmost importance for the whole being of the Earth.
You need only go out-of-doors here, where we are surrounded everywhere by the Jura limestone, and you will have before you all that I am going to begin by describing today. Ordinary observation is so superficial that for most people limestone is simply limestone, and outwardly there really is no perceptible difference between winter-limestone and spring-limestone. But this failure to distinguish between them comes from the standpoint which yesterday I called the flea-standpoint. The metamorphoses of limestone appear only when we look further out into the cosmos, as it were. Then we find a subtle difference between winter-limestone and spring-limestone, and it is precisely this which makes limestone the most important of all deposits in the soil. After all the various considerations we have gone into here, and since we know that soul and spirit are to be found everywhere, we can allow ourselves to speak of all such substance as vivified, ensouled beings. Thus we can say that winter-limestone is a being content within itself.
If we enter into the being of winter-limestone with Intuition — the Intuition described in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds — we find it permeated throughout with the most diverse spirituality, made up of the elemental beings who dwell in the Earth. But the limestone is as it were contented, as a human head may be when it has solved an important problem and feels happy to have the thoughts which point to the solution. We perceive — for Intuition always embraces feeling — an inner contentment in the whole neighborhood of the limestone formations during the winter season.
If we were to swim underwater, we should perceive water everywhere; and similarly, if we move spiritually through the process of limestone formation, we perceive this winter contentment on all sides. It expresses itself as an inner permeation of the winter-limestone by mobile, ever-changing forms — living, spiritual forms which appear as Imaginations.
When spring approaches, however, and especially when March comes, the limestone becomes — we may say — dull in respect of its spiritual qualities. It loses them, for, as you know from previous accounts, the elemental beings now take their way, through a kind of cosmic-spiritual breathing-out, into the cosmos. The limestone's spiritual thinking qualities are dulled, but the remarkable thing is that it becomes full of eager desire. It develops a kind of inner vitality. A subtle life-energy arises increasingly in the limestone, becoming steadily more active as spring draws on, and even more so toward summer, as the plants shoot up.
These things are naturally not apparent in a crude outward form, but in a subtle, intimate way they do occur. The growing plants draw water and carbonic acid from the limestone in the soil. But this very loss signifies for the limestone an inner access of living activity, and it acquires on this account an extraordinary power of attraction for the Ahrimanic beings. Whenever spring approaches, their hopes revive. Apart from this, they have nothing particular to hope for from the realm of outer nature, because they are really able to pursue their activities only within human beings. But when spring draws near, the impression which the spring-limestone makes on them gives them the idea that after all they will be able to spread their dragon-nature through nature at large. Finding the spring-limestone full of life, they hope to be able to draw in also the astral element from the cosmos in order to ensoul the limestone — to permeate it with soul. So, when March is near, a truly clairvoyant observer of nature can witness a remarkable drama. He sees how everywhere the hopes of the Ahrimanic beings play over the Earth like an astral wind, and how the Ahrimanic beings strive with all their might to call down an astral rain, as it were. If they were to succeed, then in the summer this astral rain would transform the Earth into an ensouled being — or at least partly, as far as the limestone extends. And then, in autumn, the Earth would feel pain at every footfall on its surface.
This endeavor, this illusion, lays hold of the Ahrimanic beings every spring, and every spring it is brought to nothing. From a human standpoint one might say: surely by now the Ahrimanic beings must have become clever enough to give up these hopes. But the world is not just as human beings imagine it to be. The fact is that every spring the Ahrimanic beings have new hope of being able to transform the Earth into an ensouled, living being through an astral rain from above, and every year their illusions are shattered.
But man is not free from danger in the midst of these illusions. He consumes the nature-products which flourish in this atmosphere of hopes and illusions; and it is naïve to suppose that the bread he eats is merely corn, ground and baked. In outer nature these hopes are shattered, but the Ahrimanic beings long all the more to achieve their aim in man, who has a soul already. Thus every spring man is in danger of falling a victim — in subtle, intimate ways — to the Ahrimanic beings. In spring he is much more exposed to all the Ahrimanic workings in the cosmos than he is during other times of the year.
But now, if we direct our gaze upward, to where the elemental beings of the Earth ascend, where they unite themselves with the cloud-formations and acquire an inner activity which is subject to planetary life, something else can be seen. As March approaches, and down below the Ahrimanic beings are at work, the elemental beings — who are wholly spiritual, immaterial, although they live within the material Earth — are transported up into the region of vapor, air and warmth. And all that goes on up there, among the active elemental beings, is permeated by Luciferic beings. Just as the Ahrimanic beings nourish their hopes and experience their illusions down below, so the Luciferic beings experience their hopes and illusions up above.
If we look more closely at the Ahrimanic beings, we find they are of etheric nature. And it is impossible for these beings, who are really those cast down by Michael, to expand in any other way than by trying to gain domination over the Earth through the life and desire that fill the limestone in spring.
The Luciferic beings up above stream through and permeate all the activities that have risen up from the Earth. They are of a purely astral nature. Through everything that begins to strive upward in spring, they gain the hope of being able to permeate their astral nature with the etheric, and to call forth from the Earth an etheric sheath in which they could then take up their habitation.

Plate III
Plate 3

Hence we can say: The Ahrimanic beings try to ensoul the Earth with astrality (see Plate 3, reddish); the Luciferic beings try to take up the etheric into their own being (blue with yellow).
When now in spring the plants begin to sprout, they assimilate and draw in carbonic acid. Hence the carbonic acid is active in a higher region than it is in winter; it rises into the realm of the plants, and there it comes under the attraction of the Luciferic beings. While the Ahrimanic beings strive to ensoul the living limestone with a kind of astral rain, the Luciferic beings try to raise up a sort of carbonic acid mist or vapor from the Earth (see Plate 3, blue, yellow). If they were to succeed, human beings on Earth would no longer be able to breathe. The Luciferic beings would draw up all that part of man, his etheric nature, which is not dependent on physical breathing, and by uniting themselves with it they would be able to become etheric beings, whereas they are now only astral beings. And then, with the extinction of all human and animal life on Earth, up above there would be a sheath of etheric angel-beings. That is what the Luciferic spirits strive and hope for, when the end of March comes on. They hope to change the whole Earth into a delicate shell of this kind, wherein they, densified through the etheric nature of man, could carry on their own existence.
If the Ahrimanic beings could realize their hopes, the whole of humanity would gradually be dissolved into the Earth: the Earth would absorb them. Finally there would arise out of the Earth — and that is Ahriman's intention — a single great entity into which all human beings would be merged: they would be united with it. But the transition to this union with the Earth would consist in this: man in his whole organism would become more and more like the living limestone. He would blend the living limestone with his organism and become more and more calcified. In this way he would transmute his bodily form into one that looked quite different — a sclerotic form with something like bat's wings and a head like this (see Plate 4). This form would then be able to merge gradually into the earthly element, so that the whole Earth, according to the Ahrimanic idea, would become a living Earth-being.

Plate IV
Plate 4

If the Luciferic beings, on the other hand, could absorb the etheric nature of man, and thus condense themselves from an astral to an etheric condition, then out of them would arise something like an etheric form, in which the lower parts of the human organism would be more or less absent, with the upper part transformed. The body would be formed of Earth-vapor (see Plate 4, blue), developed only as far down as the breast, with an idealized human head (red). And the peculiar thing is that this being would have wings, born as it were out of clouds (yellow). In front, these wings would concentrate into a sort of enlarged larynx; at the sides they would concentrate into ears, organs of hearing, which again would be connected with the larynx.
You see, I tried to represent the sclerotic form through the figure of Ahriman in the painting in the dome of the Goetheanum and plastically in the woodcarving of the Group. Similarly, the Luciferic shape, created out of Earth-vapor and cloud-masses, as it would be if it could take up the etheric from the Earth, is represented there. [The central motif (painted from a sketch by Rudolf Steiner) in the small dome of the first Goetheanum, and in Rudolf Steiner's woodcarving of the Representative of Humanity.]
Thus the two extremes of man are written into the life of the Earth itself: first, the extreme that man would come to if under the influence of Ahriman he were to take up the living limestone and thereby become gradually one with the Earth, dissolved into the whole living, sentient Earth. That is one extreme. The other extreme is what man would come to if the Luciferic beings were to succeed in causing a vapor of carbonic acid to rise from below, so that breathing would be extinguished and physical humanity would disappear, while the etheric bodies of men would be united with the astrality of the Luciferic angel-being up above.
Again we can say: These are the hopes, the illusions, of the Luciferic beings. Anyone who looks out as a seer into the great spaces of the cosmos does not see in the moving clouds, as in Shakespeare's play, a shape which looks first like a camel and then like something else. When March comes, he sees in the clouds the dynamic striving forces of the Luciferic beings, who would like to create out of the Earth a Luciferic sheath. Man sways between these two extremes. The desire of both the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic beings is to blot out humanity as it exists today.
These various activities are manifested within the life of the Earth. The hopes of the Luciferic beings are shattered once more every spring, but they work on in man. And in springtime, while on one hand he is exposed to the Ahrimanic forces, he is also exposed more and more — and right on through the summer — to the Luciferic beings.
These forces, certainly, work in so subtle a way that they are noticed today only by someone who is spiritually sensitive and can really live with the course of events in the cosmos 'round the year. But in earlier times, even in the later Atlantean period, all this had great significance.
In those earlier times, for example, human reproduction was bound up with the seasons. Conception could occur only in the spring, when the forces were active in the way I have described, and births could therefore take place only toward the end of the year. The life of the Earth was thus wholesomely bound up with human life. [See the lecture entitled Christmas at a Time of Grievous Destiny, given in Basle, 21st December, 1916. Printed in The Festivals and their Meaning, Vol. I: Christmas. (Rudolf Steiner Press.)]
Now a principle of the Luciferic beings is to set free everything on Earth, and among the things that have been freed are conception and birth. The fact that a human being can be born at any time of the year was brought about in earlier times by this Luciferic influence, which tends always to loosen man from the Earth, and it has become an established part of human freedom. Next time I will speak of influences that are still active, but today I wished to show you how in earlier times the aims of the Luciferic beings were actually achieved, up to a certain point. Otherwise, human beings could have been born only in winter.
As against this, the Ahrimanic beings try with all their might to draw man back into connection with the Earth. And since the Luciferic beings had this great influence in the past, the Ahrimanic beings have a prospect of at least partly achieving their purpose of binding man to the Earth by merging his mind and disposition with the earthly and turning him into a complete materialist. They would like to make his capacity to think and feel depend entirely on the food he digests. This Ahrimanic influence bears particularly on our own epoch and it will go on getting stronger and stronger.
If, therefore, we look back in time, we come to something accomplished by the Luciferic beings and bequeathed to us. If we look forward toward the end of the Earth, we see man faced with the threatening prospect that the Ahrimanic beings, since they cannot actually dissolve humanity into the Earth, will contrive at least to harden him, so that he becomes a crude materialist, thinking and feeling only what material substance thinks and feels in him.
The Luciferic beings accomplished their work in freeing man from nature, in the way I have described, at a time when man himself had as yet no freedom. Freedom has not arisen through human resolve or in an abstract way, as the usual account suggests, but because natural processes, such as the timing of births, have come under human control. When in earlier times it became obvious that children could be born at any season, this brought a feeling of freedom into the soul and spirit of man. Those are the facts. They depend far more on the cosmos than is commonly imagined.
But now that man has advanced in freedom, he should use his freedom to banish the threatening danger that Ahriman will fetter him to the Earth. For in the perspective of the future this threat stands before him. And here we see how into Earth-evolution there came an objective fact: the Mystery of Golgotha.
Although the Mystery of Golgotha had indeed to enter as a once-for-all event into the history of the Earth, it is in a sense renewed for human beings every year. We can learn to feel how the Luciferic force up above would like to suffocate physical humanity in carbonic vapor, while down below, the Ahrimanic forces would like to vivify the limestone masses of the Earth with an astral rain, so that man himself would be calcified and reduced to limestone. But then, for a person who can see into these things, there arises between the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic forces the figure of Christ; the Christ who, freeing Himself from the weight of matter, has Ahriman under his feet; who wrested Himself free from the Ahrimanic and takes no heed of it, having overcome it, as we have shown here in painting and sculpture. And here is shown also how the Christ overcomes the force that seeks to draw the upper part of man away from the Earth. The head of the Christ-figure, the conqueror of Ahriman, appears with a countenance, a look and a bearing such that the dissolvent forces of Lucifer cannot touch them. The Luciferic power drawn into the earthly and held there — such is the form of the Christ as He appears every year in spring. That is how we must picture Him: standing on the earthly, which Ahriman seeks to make his own; victorious over death; ascending from the grave as the Risen One to the transfiguration which comes from carrying over the Luciferic into the earthly beauty of the countenance of Christ.
So there appears before our eyes, between the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic forms, the Risen Christ in his Resurrection form as the Easter picture; the Risen Christ, with Luciferic powers hovering above and the Ahrimanic powers under His feet.
This cosmic Imagination comes before us as the Easter Imagination, just as we had the Virgin and Child as the Christmas Imagination in deep winter, and the Michael Imagination for the end of September. You will see how right it was to portray the Christ in the form you see here — a form born out of cosmic happenings in the course of the year. There is nothing arbitrary about this. Every look, every trait in the countenance, every flowing fold in the garment should be thought of as placing the Christ-figure between the forms of Lucifer and Ahriman as the One who works in human evolution so that man may be wrested from the Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers at the very time, the time of Easter and Spring, when he could most readily fall victim to them.
Here precisely in the figure of Christ we see again how nothing can be rightly done out of the arbitrary fancies which are favored in artistic circles today. If a man wishes to develop full freedom in the realm of art, he does not bind himself in a slavish, Ahrimanic way to materials and models; he rises freely into spiritual heights and there he freely creates, for it is in spiritual heights  that freedom can prevail. Then he will create out of a bluish-violet vapor a kind of breast-form for the Luciferic element, and a form consisting of wings, larynx, and ear as though emerging from reddish clouds, so that this form can appear in full reality as an image both of what these beings are in their astral nature and of the etheric guise they threaten to assume (see Plate 4).
Place vividly before you these wings of Lucifer, working in the astral and striving toward the etheric. You will find that because these wings are actually feeling about in the cosmic spaces, they are sensitive to all the secrets of force in the cosmos. Through their undulating movement, these wings, with their wavelike formation, are in touch with the mysterious, spiritual wave-activities of the cosmos. And the experience brought by these waves passes through the ear-formation into the inwardness of the Luciferic being and is carried further there. The Luciferic-being grasps through his ear-formation what he has sensed with his wings, and through the larynx — closely connected with the ear — this knowledge becomes the creative word that works and weaves in the forms of living beings.
If you picture a Luciferic being of this kind, with his reddish-yellow formation of wings, ears, and larynx, you will see in him the activity which is sensitive to the secrets of the cosmos through his wings, experiences these secrets through the inward continuation of his ear-formation, and utters them as creative word through the larynx, bound up with wings and ears in one organic whole.
So was Lucifer painted in the cupola, and so is he represented in the sculpture-group which was intended to be the central point of our Goetheanum. Thus, in a certain sense, the Easter mystery was to have stood at this central point. But a completion in some form will be necessary, if one is to grasp the whole idea. For all that can be seen as the threatening Luciferic influence and the threatening Ahrimanic influence belongs to the inner being of the Nature-forces and the direction they strive to take in spring and on into summer; and standing over against them is the healing principle that rays out from the Christ. But a living feeling for all this will be attained when the whole architectural scheme is completed and what I have described exists in architectural and sculptured form, and when in the future it will be possible to present in front of the sculpture a living drama with two leading characters: man and Raphael
Within this architecture, and in the presence of the sculpture, there would have to be enacted a kind of Mystery Play, with man and Raphael as chief characters — Raphael with the staff of Mercury and all that belongs to it. In living artistic work everything is a challenge, and fundamentally there is no sculpture and no architecture which — if it is to be inwardly in accord with cosmic truth — does not call for a presentation in the space surrounding it of the artistic action it embodies. At Easter this architecture and sculpture would call for a Mystery Play, showing man taught by Raphael to see how far the Ahrimanic and Luciferic forces make him ill, and how through the power of Raphael he can be led to perceive and recognize the healing principle, the great world-therapy, which lives in the Christ-principle. If all this could be done — and the Goetheanum was designed for all of it — then at Easter there would be, amid much else, a certain crowning of all that can flow into mankind from the Ahrimanic and Luciferic secrets.
You see, if we learn to recognize the springtime activity of the Ahrimanic influence in the living limestone, through which a greedy endeavor is being made to take up the cosmic astral element, then we learn also to recognize the healing forces that reside in everything of a salt-like nature. The difference is not apparent in the coarser kind of activities, but it comes out in the healing ones. Thus we learn to know these healing influences by studying the working of the Ahrimanic beings in the salt-deposits of the Earth. For whatever is permeated by Ahrimanic influences during one season of the year — we will go more closely into this next time — is transformed into healing powers at another season. If we know what is going on secretly in the products and beings of nature, we learn to recognize their therapeutic power. It is the same with the Luciferic element: we learn to recognize the healing forces active in volatile substances that rise up from the Earth, and especially those present in carbonic acid. For just as I explained that in all water there is a mercurial, quicksilver element, so in carbonic acid there is always a sulphurous, phosphoric element.
There is no carbonic acid which consists simply — as the chemists say — of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms: no such thing exists. In the carbonic acid we breathe out there is always a phosphoric, sulphurous element. This carbonic acid, CO2, one atom of carbon and two of oxygen, is merely an abstraction, an intellectual concept formed in the human mind. In reality there is no carbonic acid which does not contain a phosphoric, sulphurous element in an extraordinarily diluted state, and the Luciferic beings strive toward it in the rising vapor.
Again, in this peculiar balance between the sulphur-element that becomes astral and the limestone that becomes living, the forces we can recognize as healing influences are expressed.
And so, among much else that is connected with the Easter Mystery, we should have the Easter Mystery Play enacted in front of the painting and the sculpture, and through it the communications about ways of healing which are given in the course of the year to those willing to listen would reach a climax in a truly living, artistically religious form. They would indeed be crowned by being placed in the whole course of the cosmos and the seasons; and then the Easter festival would embrace something that could be expressed in the words: “The presence of the World-Healer is felt: the Savior who willed to lift the great evil from the world. His presence is felt.” For in truth He was, as I have often said, the Great Physician in the evolution of mankind. This will be felt, and to Him will sacrifice be offered with all the wisdom about healing influences that man can possess. This would be included in the Easter Mystery, the Easter ritual; and by celebrating the Easter festival in this way we should be placing it quite naturally in the context of the seasonal course of the year.
To begin with, in describing the powerful Imaginations which come before man at Michaelmas and Christmas, I was able to show them to you only as pictures. But in the case of the Easter Imagination, where over against the activities of the Nature-spirits there arises the higher life of the spirit, as this can develop in the neighborhood of the Christ, I could show how the Imagination can lead directly to a ritual in the earthly realm, a ritual embracing things which must be cherished and preserved on Earth — the health-giving healing forces, and a knowledge of the Ahrimanic and Luciferic forces which could destroy the human organism. For Ahriman hardens man, while Lucifer wishes to dissolve and evaporate him through his breathing. In all this the forces that make for illness reside.
All that can be learnt in this way under the influence of the great teacher Raphael — who is really Mercury in Christian terminology and in Christian usage should carry the staff of Mercury — can be worthily crowned only in so far as it is received into the mysteries and ritual of Easter. Much else can come into them; of this I will speak in later lectures.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"She Walks in Beauty" by Byron

Anandamayi Ma

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!


Anandamayi Ma

"This love is devoid of qualities, seeks no return, grows from more to more every moment, knows no break, is subtler than the subtlest and is of the nature of experience. Attaining this Love, the loving devotee sees nothing but Love, hears only about Love, speaks only of Love, and thinks of Love alone."  — The Bhakti Sutras of Narada

Source: The Inner Treasure, by Jonathan Star

The Four Seasons and the Archangels. Lecture 2: The Christmas Imagination

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, October 6, 1923:

Yesterday there stood before us the picture of Michael battling with the Dragon, as shown to us through an inner understanding of the course of the year. And art can really be nothing else than a reflection of what human beings feel in relation to the universe. Of course this is possible at various levels and from various standpoints; but on the whole we can speak of a work of art only when it expresses human feeling in such a way that through it the soul is opened to the secrets of the universe.
Today, in the same spirit that led us to the culminating picture of Michael and the Dragon, we will carry further our study of the seasons of the year.
We know from yesterday's lecture that when autumn draws on, a kind of in-breathing by the Earth, a spiritual in-breathing, occurs, and the elemental beings are drawn back into the bosom of the Earth. Those who went out in the height of summer and turned back at Michaelmas are drawn further and further in, until in the depths of winter they are united most intimately with the Earth.
Now we must realize that in winter the Earth is above all self-contained, enclosed in itself. It has drawn back everything of a spiritual nature which it had allowed to stream out from itself during the summer. Hence in the depths of winter the Earth is more earthly, more truly itself, than at any other time. And while for our further studies we must keep firmly in view this winter character of the Earth, we must of course not forget that when winter prevails over half the Earth, the other half is experiencing summer. This is a fact we must keep in the background of our minds. But just now we are concerned with the coming of winter to one part of the Earth. It is then that the Earth unfolds its own nature in the deepest sense; the nature that makes it truly Earth.

Plate I
Plate 1

Let us now look at this Earth of ours. It has a solid core, hidden below its visible outer surface, which in turn is largely covered by water, the hydrosphere. The continents are only floating, as it were, in this great watery expanse. And we can picture the hydrosphere as extending up into the atmosphere, for the atmosphere is always permeated by a watery element. Certainly this is much thinner than the water of the sea and the river, but there is no definite boundary in the atmosphere where the watery element comes to an end. Hence if we are to show schematically what the Earth is like in this respect we shall have, first, a solid core in the center (see Plate I). Around it we have the watery regions (blue). I must of course indicate the jutting up of the continents: they will have to be exaggerated, for they should really be no more prominent than the irregularities on the skin of an orange. Then I must put in the hydrosphere, this watery part of the atmosphere all around the Earth. Let us look at this picture (blue) and ask ourselves what it really represents? It is not something made up out of itself: it is water shaped by the whole cosmos. The reason why this body of air and water is spherical is because the cosmos extends around it as a sphere on all sides. And this means that strong forces play in on the Earth as a whole.
The effect is that if we were to look at the Earth from some other planet, it would appear to us as a great water-drop in the cosmos. There would be all sorts of prominences on it — the continents, which would be rather differently colored — but as a whole it would appear to us as a great water-drop in the midst of the universe.
Let us now consider this from a cosmic standpoint. What is this great water-drop? It is something which takes its shape from its whole cosmic environment.
If one approaches the matter from a spiritual-scientific point of view, bringing Imagination and Inspiration to bear on it, one comes to know what this water-drop really is. It is nothing other than a gigantic drop of quicksilver; but the quicksilver is present in an extraordinarily rarefied condition.
The possibility of these high attenuations has been shown by the work of Frau Dr. Kolisko. At our Biological Institute in Stuttgart the attempt has been made to put this on an exact footing. It has been possible to make dilutions of substances up to one part in a trillion, and in fact to establish precisely the effects which such high dilutions of particular substances can have. Hitherto, in homoeopathy, this has been merely a matter of belief; now it has been raised to the level of exact science. The graphs which have been drawn leave no doubt today that the effects of the smallest particles follow a rhythmical course. I will not go into details; the work has been published and these findings can now be verified. Here I wish to point out only that even in the earthly realm the effects of enormous dilutions must be reckoned with.
Here we are concerned with something of which we can say, when we use it on a small scale: this is water. We can draw water from a river or a well and use it as water. Yes, it is water, but there is no water that consists solely of hydrogen and oxygen. It would be absurd for anyone to suppose that water consists of hydrogen and oxygen only. In the case of mineral waters and suchlike, it is of course obvious that something else is present. But there is no water composed solely of hydrogen and oxygen: that is only a first approximation. All water, wherever it appears, is permeated with something else. Essentially, the whole water-mass of the Earth is quicksilver for the universe. Only the small quantities we use are water for us. For the universe, this water is not water, but quicksilver.
Hence we can say, first of all, that in so far as we are considering the hydrosphere in relation to water, we have to do with a drop of quicksilver in the cosmos. Embedded as it were in this drop of quicksilver, naturally, are metallic substances — in brief, all the earthly substances. They represent the solid mass of the Earth, and they tend to assume their own special forms. Thus in the  structure as a whole we observe the general spherical form of quicksilver. Ordinary metallic quicksilver, one might say, is only the symbol produced by nature for the general activity of quicksilver, leading quite definitely to a spherical form. Embedded in the whole sphere are the metallic crystals, with the manifold variety of their own distinctive forms. Hence we have before us this formation of warmth, water, air: its tendency, as I have said, is to assume a spherical form, with individual crystal forms within it (see Plate I).
Even if we single out the air (dark red) which surrounds the Earth as its atmosphere, we can never speak simply of air, for the air always has a tendency to contain warmth in some degree: the air is permeated with warmth (violet). Thus we must add this fourth element, warmth, which enters into the air.
Now this warmth, which comes into the air from above, carries pre-eminently within it the sulphur-process, imparted to it from the cosmos. And to the sulphur-process is added the mercurial process, as I have described it in connection with the hydrosphere. Thus we have air-warmth — the sulphur-process; water-air — the mercurial process.
If now we turn toward the inner part of the Earth, we come to the acid-formation process, and especially to the salt-process, for the salts derive from the acids; and this is what the Earth really wants to be. Hence, when we look up into the cosmos, we are really looking at the sulphur-process. When we consider the tendency of the Earth to form itself into a cosmic water-drop, we are really looking at the mercurial process. And if we turn our gaze to the solid earth underfoot, which in spring gives rise to all that we see as growing, sprouting life, we are looking at the salt-process.
This salt-process is all-important for springtime life and growth. For the roots of plants, in forming themselves out of the seeds, depend for their whole growth on their relation to the salt-formations in the soil. It is these salt-formations — in the widest sense of the term — which give substance to the roots and enable them to act as the earthly foundation of plant-life.
Thus in turning back to the Earth we encounter the salt-process. This is what the Earth makes of itself in the depths of winter, whereas in summer there is much more intermingling. For in summer the air is shot through with sulphurizing processes, which indeed occur also in lightning and thunder; they penetrate far down, so that the whole course of the season is sulphurized. Then we come at Michaelmas to the time when the sulphur-process is driven back by meteoric iron, as I told you yesterday. During summer, too, the salt-process mingles with the atmosphere, for the growing plants carry the salts up through their leaves and blossoms right up into the seeds. Naturally, we find the salts widely distributed in the plant; they etherealize themselves in the etheric oils and so on; they approach the sulphurizing process. The salts are carried up through the  plants; they stream out and become part of the being of the atmosphere.
In high summer, accordingly, we have a mingling of the mercurial element, always present in the Earth, with the sulphuriZing and salt-forming elements. If at this season we stand here on Earth, our head actually projects into a mixture of sulphur, mercury, and salt; while the arrival of deep winter means that each of these three principles reverts to its own inner condition. The salts withdraw into the inwardness of the Earth, and the tendency for the hydrosphere to assume a spherical shape reasserts itself — imaged in winter by the snow-mantle that covers parts of the Earth. The sulphur process withdraws, so that there is no particular occasion to observe it. In place of it, something else comes to the fore during the deep winter season.
The plants have developed from spring until autumn, finally concentrating themselves in their seeds. What is this seeding process? When plants run to seed, they are doing what we are constantly doing in a dull human way when we use plants for food. We cook them. Now the development of a plant to blossom and then to seed-production is nature's cookery; it approaches the sulphur-process. The plants grow up into the sulphur-process. They are most strongly sulphurized, so to speak, when summer is at its height. When autumn draws on, this combustion process comes to an end.
In the organic realm, of course, everything is different from the processes we observe in their coarse inorganic form; but the outcome of every combustion process is ash. And in addition to the salt-formation, which comes from quite another quarter and is needed within the Earth, we must add all that falls down on to the Earth from the blossoming and seeding of plants as a result of the  cooking or combustion process. This falling down of ash — just as ash falls down in our stoves — plays a great role which is usually overlooked. For in the course of seed-formation — which is fundamentally a combustion process — the seed-nature is continually showering down on the Earth, so that from October onwards the Earth is quite impregnated with this form of ash.
If therefore we observe the Earth in the depths of winter, we have first the internal tendency to salt-formation; besides this we have the mercurial shaping-process in its most strongly marked form; and while in high summer we have to pay attention to the sulphurizing process in the cosmos outside the Earth, we now have in winter the ash-forming process.
So, you see, the tendency which reaches its culmination at Christmas is prepared in advance from Michaelmas onwards. The Earth is gradually more and more consolidated, so that in deep winter it becomes really a cosmic body, expressing itself in mercurial formation, salt-formation, ash-formation. What does this signify for the cosmos?
Now, if we can suppose that a flea, let us say, were to become an anatomist and were to study a bone, it would have before it an exceptionally small piece of bone, because the flea itself is so small and it would be examining the bone from a flea's perspective. The flea would then discover that in the bone we have to do with phosphoric lime in an amorphous condition, with carbonic acid, lime, and so forth. But our flea anatomist would never come to the point of realizing that the fragment of bone is a small part only of a complete skeleton. Certainly, the flea jumps, but in studying the tiny piece of bone he would never get beyond it. Similarly, it would not help a human geologist or mineralogist to be able to jump about like a gigantic Earth-flea. In studying the mountain ranges of the Earth, which in their totality represent a skeleton, he would still be working on a miniature scale. The flea would never come to describing the skeleton as a whole; he would hack out a tiny piece with his little hammer. Suppose this were a tiny piece of collarbone: nothing in the constituents of the little piece, carbonate of lime, phosphate of lime, and so on, would reveal to the flea that it belonged to a collarbone, still less that it was part of a complete skeleton. The flea would have hacked off a tiny piece and would then describe it from his own flea-standpoint, just as a man describes the Earth when somewhere — let us say in the Dornach hills — he has hacked out a bit of Jura limestone. Then he describes this bit, and works up his findings into mineralogy, geology, and so on. It is still the same flea-standpoint, though certainly somewhat enlarged.
This, of course, is no way to arrive at the truth. We need to recognize that the Earth is a single whole, most firmly consolidated during winter through its salt-formation, its mercurial formation, and its ash-formation. Let us then ask what the whole nature of the Earth signifies when we look at it not from the flea's point of view, but in relation to the cosmos.
We will first consider salt-formation, taking this in the widest sense to connote a physical deposit, exemplified in the way ordinary cooking-salt dissolved in a glass of water will separate out as a deposit on the bottom of the glass. (I will not now go into the chemical side of this, though the result would be the same if I did). Now a salt-deposit of this kind has the characteristic of being porous, as it were, to the spiritual. Where there is a salt-deposit, the spiritual has a clear field of entry. In mid-winter, accordingly, when the Earth consolidates itself on the basis of salt-formation, the effect is, first of all, that the elemental beings who are united with the Earth have, one might say, an agreeable abode within it. But other spiritual elements, too, are drawn in from the cosmos and are able to dwell in the salt-crust which lies immediately below the Earth's surface. Here, in this salt-crust, the Moon-forces are particularly active — I mean the remains of those Moon-forces which were left behind, as I have often mentioned, when the Moon separated from the Earth.
These Moon-forces are active in the Earth chiefly because of the salt present in it. So in winter — beneath the snow cover which strives in one direction, one might say, toward the quicksilver form and in the other passes down into the salt deposits — we have the solid Earth-substance, the salt, permeated with spirituality. In winter the Earth does indeed become spiritual in itself, through the consolidating influence, especially, of its salt-content.
Now water — that is, cosmic quicksilver — has the inner tendency to shape itself spherically. We can see this inner tendency everywhere. And because of this the Earth in mid-winter is enabled not only to become rigid through its salt-content and to permeate the salt with spirit, but also to vivify the spiritualized substance and to lead it over into the realm of life. In winter the whole surface of the Earth is reinvigorated. The quicksilver principle, working into the spiritualized salt, activates everywhere this tendency toward new life. Below the Earth's surface, in winter, there is a tremendous reinforcement of the Earth's capacity to produce life.
This life, however, would become a Moon-life, for it is chiefly the Moon-forces that are active in it. But because ash falls down from the seeds of plants, so that everything I have just described is impregnated with ash, something is present which keeps the whole process in the domain of the Earth.
The plants have striven upward into the sulphur-process, and out of this process the ash has fallen down. This is what draws the plant back to Earth, after it has striven up into the etheric-spiritual. So in the depths of winter we have on the Earth's surface not only the tendency to absorb the spirit and to reinvigorate itself, but the tendency also to transform the Moon-like into the earthly. Through the remains of the fallen ash the Moon is compelled to promote Earthly life, not Moon life.
Now let us turn from the Earth's surface and look at the air-formation that surrounds the Earth. For the air, it is of the utmost importance always, but especially in midwinter, that the Sun radiates warmth and light through it — though the light is less relevant to our immediate considerations.
You see, science treats things always in isolation from one another, as in reality they never are. Air, we are told, consists of oxygen and nitrogen and other elements. But in fact this is not so: the air is not made up merely of oxygen and nitrogen, for it is always rayed through by the Sun. That is the reality: air is always permeated in the daytime by the activity of the Sun. And what does this activity signify? It signifies that the air up above is always seeking to tear itself away from the Earth. If salt-formation, mercurial formation, and ash-formation were alone active, then nothing but the earthly would be there. But up above, because the activities striving upward from the Earth are taken up into the activity of Sun and air, Earth-activity is transmuted into cosmic activity. The power to work on its own accord in the living-spiritual is taken away from the Earth. The Sun makes its power felt in everything that grows and sprouts upward from the Earth. And so, in a certain region above the Earth, a quite special tendency is apparent to spiritual vision (see Plate I). On the Earth itself everything seeks to become spherical (dark red); in this upper region the sphere is continually impelled to flatten out into a plane (reddish). Naturally it will tend to resume its spherical shape, but up there the spherical is always inclined to flatten itself out. The upper influences would really like to break up the Earth, to disintegrate it, so that everything might become a flat surface, spread out there in the cosmos.
If this were to come about, the Earth's activities would disappear completely, and up above we should have a kind of air in which the stars would be active. This is very plainly expressed in man himself. What part do we as human beings have in the Sun-filled air above? We breathe it in, and because of this the activity of the Sun extends right into us, downward certainly in a sense, but chiefly upward. Through our head we are continually drawn away from the influences of the Earth, and on this account our head is enabled to participate in the whole cosmos. Our head would really always like to go out into the region where the plane prevails. If our head belonged only to the Earth, especially in wintertime, our whole experience of thinking would be different. We should then have the feeling that all our thoughts wished to take a rounded shape. In fact they do not; they have a certain lightness, adaptability, fluidity, and this we owe to the characteristic incursion of the activity of the Sun.
Here we have the second tendency; here the Sun-like strikes into the Earthly. But this is at its weakest in winter. If we were to go still further out, something else would come into the picture. Then we should have to do no longer with the activity of the Sun, but only with the activity of the stars, for the stars in turn have a great influence on our head. Inasmuch as the Sun gives us back to the cosmos, so to speak, the stars have their own deeply penetrating influence on our head, and so on the whole formation of the human organism.
But now I must tell you that what I have just been describing no longer holds good today, for in a certain way man has emancipated himself, in his growth and his whole evolution, from the Earth's activities. If were to go back to the old Lemurian time, or especially to the Polarian time that preceded it, we should find the whole thing quite different. We should observe that everything that occurred on the Earth had a great influence on the human organism. You will indeed have gathered this from the account of the evolution of the Earth given in my Occult Science. In those early times we should find man placed in the very midst of the activities I have been telling you about. Tomorrow I will describe how man has emancipated himself from all this; today I will speak as though we were still fully involved in it. And here we come to something that to present-day understanding will seem highly paradoxical.
We can ask the question: What does a mother become when she is beginning to develop a new human being? Originally — after all that has first to happen in order that a new human being may come into existence on Earth — it is the salt-forming Moon-forces which chiefly influence the female organism at that time. So we can say that while a woman is otherwise and in general a human being, the salt-forming Moon-forces then have the strongest influence on her. We can put this in spiritual-scientific terms by saying: The woman becomes Moon, just as the Earth — especially just below its surface — becomes Moon when Christmas approaches.
So it is not the Earth only which becomes mostly Moon when deep winter prevails; this tendency of the Earth to become Moon occurs again, in like manner, when a woman prepares herself to receive a new human being. And precisely because of this, the Sun-influence on her becomes different, just as it is different in midwinter compared with high summer. And the formation in the woman of the new human being stands wholly under the influence of the Sun. Because the woman takes up the Moon-activities, the salt-activities, so strongly into herself, she becomes able to take up the Sun-activities on their own account. In ordinary life the Sun-activities are taken up by the human organism through the heart and from there spread out over the whole organism. But directly a woman prepares herself to bring forth a new human being, the Sun-activities are concentrated on the forming of this new life. Thus we can say schematically: The woman becomes Moon so that she can take up the Sun-activities into herself; and the new human being, existing first as an embryo, is in this sense wholly Sun-activity. The embryo is enabled to come into being through this concentration of Sun-activities.
The old instinctive clairvoyance knew this in its own way. At one time in old Europe a remarkable idea prevailed. It was thought that before a newborn child had taken any earthly nourishment, it was a quite different being from what it became after imbibing its first drop of milk. That was the old Germanic belief. For these people had an instinctive feeling that the newborn infant was a Sun-being, and that through the first earthly nourishment it received it became a creature of Earth. Hence the newborn infant did not at first belong to the Earth at all. Again, according to occult laws which I might touch on at some other time, old Germanic custom gave the father — at whose feet the child was always laid directly it was born — the right either to let it grow up or to destroy it; for it was not yet a creature of Earth. If it had taken one single drop of milk, he no longer had the right to destroy it. It would then have to remain an Earth-creature, because it had been ordained by nature, by the world, by the cosmos, to be one. In such old customs there lives something of immensely profound significance.
Here indeed is the basis of the saying: The child is of the Sun. So it is possible now to look on the woman who has borne the child as a being who is in the deepest sense related to all earthly processes. For the Earth prepares itself in midwinter through the salt-tendency — that is, the Moon tendency — so that it may be best able to receive the Sun-element. The Earth then reaches out beyond the Sun-element to the heavens, to which also the human head belongs.
Hence we can say something like this. In order to bring the essence of Christmas rightly before our souls, let us transpose ourselves into the being of man. In the Christmas spirit is expressed the coming to birth of the Jesus-child, who is ordained to receive the Christ into himself. Let us look closely at this. If we look at the figure of Mary, we are bound to see that her head reflects something heavenly in its whole appearance, its whole expression. We must then indicate that Mary is preparing to take into herself the Sun, the child, the Sun as it rays through the encircling air. And then we can see in the form of Mary the Moon-Earthly element.

Plate II
Plate 2

Now imagine how this could be portrayed. First we have the Moon-Earth element, spread out below the Earth's surface. Then, going out into the great spaces, we find a raying forth from man into the cosmos, and this could be shown as a heavenly Earth-star radiance, sent out by the Earth into the cosmos. The head of Mary is like a radiant star, which means that her whole countenance and bearing must give expression to this star-radiant quality.
If then we turn to the breast, we come to the breathing process; to the Sun-element, the child, forming itself out of the clouds in the atmosphere, shot through by the rays of the Sun.
Further down we come to the Moon-like, salt-forming forces, given outward expression by bringing the limbs into dynamic relation with the Earth and letting them arise out of the salt and the Moon-elements in the Earth. Here we have the Earth insofar as it is inwardly transfigured by the Moon.
All this would really have to be shown through a kind of rainbow coloring. For if we were to look from the cosmos toward the Earth, through the shining of the stars, it would be as though the Earth were wishing to shine inwardly, beneath its surface, in rainbow colors. On the Earth we have something related to the Earth-forces, to gravity and to the formation of the limbs, which can be expressed only through the garment which follows the Earth-forces in its folds. So we should have the garment down below, in relation to the Earth-forces. Then we should have to portray, a little higher up, that which gives expression to the Earth-Moon element. We could even picture the Moon, if we wished to symbolize; but the Moon-element is clearly expressed in the configuration of the Earth.
Higher up still, we must bring in that which comes forth from the Moon-element. We see how the clouds are permeated with many human heads, pressing downwards; one of them is condensed into the Sun resting on Mary's arm: the Jesus-child. And all this must be completed, in an upward direction, through the star-radiance expressed in the countenance of Mary.
If we understand the depths of winter, how it shows us the connection of the cosmos with man, with man who takes up the birth-forces in the Earth, the only possible way of presenting the woman is in this form: formed out of the clouds, endowed with the forces of the Earth: with the Moon-forces below, with the Sun-forces in the middle, and above, toward the head, with the forces of the stars. The picture of Mary with the little Jesus-child arises out of the cosmos itself.
If we understand the cosmos in autumn, so as to represent all its formative forces in a picture, we come by necessity to an artistic portrayal of Michael and the Dragon, as I indicated yesterday. In the same way, everything we feel at Christmastime flows together into the picture of Mary and the child — that picture which hovered so often before painters in earlier times, especially in the first Christian centuries, and of which the last echoes have been preserved in Raphael's Sistine Madonna.
The Sistine Madonna was born out of the great instinctive knowledge of nature and the spirit which prevailed in ancient times. For it is a picture of the Imagination which must in fact come to a man who transposes his inner vision into the secrets of Christmas in such a way that they become for him a living picture.
Hence we can say: The course of the seasons must come to expression for inner vision in clear and glorious Imaginations. If one goes out with one's whole being into the world, the approach of autumn becomes the glorious Imagination of Michael's fight with the Dragon. Just as the Dragon can be represented only in a sulphurous form — born out of the sulphur-clouds — and just as the sword of Michael emerges when we think of the meteoric iron as concentrated in the sword and blended with it, so out of all that we can feel at Christmastime arises the picture of Mary the mother, the folds of her robe following the forces of the Earth, while in the region of the breast — even these details are apparent in the painting — her garment has to be inwardly rounded, taking on the quicksilver form, so that here one has a feeling of inward enclosure. Here the Sun-forces can find entry, and the innocent Jesus-child, who must be thought of as having yet received no earthly nourishment, is the Sun-activity resting on Mary's arm, with the radiance of the stars above. That is how we have to represent the head and eyes of Mary, as though a light were shining out from within them toward men. And the Jesus-child in Mary's arm must appear as though emerging from the rounded cloud-shapes, tender and lovable, inwardly sheltered; and then the garment, subject to earthly gravity, expressing what the force of earthly gravity can become (see Plate 2).
All this is best rendered in colors. Then we have the picture which comes to shine out for us as a cosmic Imagination at Christmas-time — a picture we can live with until Easter, when out of cosmic relationships once again an Easter Imagination can arise; we will speak of it tomorrow.
You will see from this that art is drawn from the heavens and their interplay with the Earth. True art is an expression of that which man experiences in the cosmos, spiritual-psychical-physical, which reveals itself to him in magnificent Imaginations. So, in order to represent all that is involved in the inner struggle for the development of self-consciousness out of nature-consciousness, nothing will do but the grand picture of Michael's fight with the Dragon; and in order to bring before us everything that can work from nature into our souls during the deep winter season, we have an artistic, imaginative expression of it in the picture of the Mother and child.
To observe the course of the seasons is to follow the great cosmic artist, so that the things which the heavens imprint on the Earth are brought to life again in powerful pictures — pictures which grow into realities for the mind of man.
Thus the course of the year can reveal itself to us in four Imaginations: the Michael Imagination, the Mary Imagination, and — as we shall see later on — the Easter Imagination and the St. John Imagination.