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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Tom Magliozzi (1937 - 2014) ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ Brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi were the "Click and Clack" of "Car Talk".
~~~~~~~~ On their popular NPR Radio Show, Ray famously gave this advice,
~~~~~~~~ "It's only a car. Just turn up the radio and that noise'll go away."
WELCOME TO DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#14c December, 2014== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Christ-Bringing Month of December:
Books sweep me away, carry me on a wave of surging delight or suspense.
Books start out swell, but often, like promising waves, go flat just as the fun begins.
How wonderful the book that sweeps me away to myself again.
— Bobby Matherne (Author)
Inspired by Annie Dilliard's book "An American Childhood" in which she writes, "Books sweep me away, one after the other, this way and that."
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DIGESTWORLDArchived DIGESTWORLD Issues
GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents ISSUE#14c for December, 2014Table of Contents
1. December's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for December
3. On a Personal Note
Flowers of Shanidar Poems
4. Cajun Story
5. Household Hint for December, 2014 from Bobby Jeaux: Keeping Celery Fresh & Crisp in Fridge
6. Poem from Guidance in Esoteric Training:"No I Tu Love"
7. Reviews and Articles featured for December:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: The Light Course, Vol 1 & 2, GA#320 by Rudolf Steiner
- ARJ2: Sufi Teachings: The Art of Being, Volume 8 by Hazrat Inayat Khan
- ARJ2: Harmony of the Creative Word, GA#230, Essentials for the Healing of Civilization by Rudolf Steiner
- ARJ2: The Eye of Zolta, A Novel, Volume 3, Chronicles of Kazam by Jasper Fforde
1. Padre Filius Cartoon
2. Comments from Readers
3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
4. "Hmmm" is the sound of an unanswered question.
5. What Do People in Turkey Eat on Thanksgiving?
9. Closing Notes our mailing list, locating books, subscribing/unsubscribing to DIGESTWORLD
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2003: Jan #32, Feb #33, Mar #34, Apr #35, May #36, Jun #37, Jul #38, Aug #39, Sep #40, Oct #41, Nov #42, Dec #43
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1. December Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==This month Violet and Joey learn about Horizontal Planning.
For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons!
"Horizontal Planning" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/141119vj.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR December:
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Each month we choose to honor two Good Readers of our DIGESTWORLD from those all over the World. Here are the two worthy Honored Readers for December, 2014:
Helena Summer of Hawaii
Danilo Vaccai of Italy
Congratulations, Helena and Danilo!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
One of my favorites writers is Roy Peter Clark, but with the absence of Poynter's regular Media Wire emails the past several months, I had missed Roy. So, when Poynter began sending the emails again, he was the first writer I looked for, and I wasn't disappointed, finding a piece he wrote about nicknames. He even gave the etymology for nickname as coming from an a.k.a. (Also Known As) name, spelled in some languages, as an eke-name, which when said quickly sounds like 'a nickname'. He got the nickname GoGo at a new coffeeshop on the first day he went there when he said, "This place would be perfect if it had margaritas and GoGo dancers." He asked for readers to share their nickname experiences, and here's what I wrote to him:
Dear Go Go,
Ah! Nicknames! I bought a pristine China Blue restored 1951 MG TD back in 1972 and we called it Blue Baby because the nine coats of deep blue lacquer which allowed you to look so deeply into the fenders that you could almost see to China.
Alas, the Blue Baby turned out to be delicate and on life support at times. I needed to change its motor from a 2-bladed to a 4-bladed radiator fan to get up Mulholland Drive without over-heating. With the 4-bladed fan, I drove Blue Baby from Anaheim to Foxborough, Massachusetts, with a couple of minor repairs along the way. A year or so later, one nice weekend I decided to take on a spin with the Blue Baby through the Thompson, Connecticut Raceway, not to race, just to tool around the raceway at 40 mph. It was a wonderful drive, except for the fact that, unknown to me, the oil pump is on the right side of the engine and the raceway was running counter-clockwise, causing all the oil to vacate the engine block and causing her to throw a cam bearing.We limped back at 30 mph to Foxboro, then paid for a major overhaul of her engine. About that time, we decided to get personalized plates, for the Ford Ltd we got CAJUNS and for the MG TD with the new engine we got TUFF TD. With that moniker she kept running strong till I sold her some 5 years later, by which time, I had moved home to New Orleans and that wife decided to stay in New England. TUFF TD! (aka Tough Tittie) Gotta watch them nicknames, eh, Roy, I mean Go Go.
Pets! That wife always had cats. Clawed was the name of her cat. Sounded like Claude, so no one ever asked about the name. Arriving in Foxborough, it took us 3 months to find a house we liked and had to stay in a two room motel next to the Lafayette House on Rte 1, the old Boston-Providence Turnpike, with her two pre-teens. The boy wanted a pet, so we got him a hamster, and he named it Samson. One morning we awoke to find that Samson had pushed aside the bars of his cage and disappeared down the floor furnace into the wilds of the forest. Later we got into this beautiful almost century old 3-story Victorian home in downtown Foxboro (we locals would drop the "ugh" just like the large eponymous company I worked for).What were they DOing in the Do Drive-in? Beside that, I didn't even know that engines could MELT, did you? Well, aluminum ones like in VW Bugs can and did. So the Silver Bullet went up in flames, like it had been shot out of the Lone Ranger's pistol!The son wanted another small pet, so we got him a gerbil, a smaller pet than Samson and unable to bend back bars. We didn't want the gerbil to have any super powers, so we named him U. G. which stood for Usual Gerbil. And everyone was happy, until one morning U.G. had disappeared from the son's 3rd floor garret room. We looked all over the other two floors and finally I searched the basement and there, out the corner of my eye, I spied U.G. The tiny rascal had maneuvered through three floors down to the basement. Where did we go wrong? Well, someone mentioned that U. G. could also stand for Unusual Gerbil. Drats! Foiled again!
By this time I was getting savvy about nicknames, or so I thought. Now back in New Orleans, my new wife, new kids, I was driving a Volkswagen Beetle. I loved it, put 300,000 miles in ten years on it, doing 40 miles each way to work. It was a Super Beetle (its model name) and we called it (from my lessons in nicknaming), Durabeetle. It lived up to its name, but finally it wore out and we replaced it with a shiny, silvery VW Beetle which needed a flashy name, so we called it the Silver Bullet! I loved the name, right, up until our daughter called home to say the Silver Bullet's rear engine had caught on fire and melted into the ground at the Do Drive-in during a movie she had gone to with her girl friends.
Nicknames, you gotta watch out for dem nicknames. As Isak Dinesen wrote in her novel, "Out of Africa": "When the gods want to punish you they answer your prayers." Giving something a nickname is like saying a prayer over and over. Gotta be careful what you pray for.
Invite me over for coffee when the Go Go Girls arrive at your coffeeshop, will you?
SUMMERFIELD WALDORF SCHOOL CONFERENCE IN SANTA ROSA
On Halloween, we flew to San Francisco, California for a SteinerBooks Conference. It had been a year since we'd visited our son Robie and his family in San Anselmo which is between SFO airport and Santa Rosa. We got up at 4 am to get dressed and drive to the Louis Armstrong airport, and took off on time, but some delay in Salt Lake City delayed us for an hour or two. Then the bus to Santa Rosa took a long time, finally getting us to the Round Barn Hilton by dark. We barely had time to grab a bite to eat and get to the start of the Conference on time.
The gal at the desk resembled Audrey Hepburn and was dressed like her in the movie, "Breakfast at Tiffany's", complete with the black sleeveless dress, hair in an updo, and a double string of white pearls around her neck. Del commented to Nicole that she looked like Holly Golightly, and she responded, "Who's that?" — she didn't know the name of the character she had chosen for her Halloween costume, up until then. Come to think of it, I didn't know the name until just a decade ago myself, some four decades after I saw the movie. I suppose folks who read Truman Capote's novella on which the movie was based knew her name, but it was rarely used in the movie, so far as I recall. We checked our bags at the desk and went to the restaurant to get our first meal of the day, outside of a quick bite in SLC airport. Then we had to deal with finding our room in the large sprawled out hotel complex. We asked for help and had to wait 20 minutes for the bellhop to arrive in a cart which only held two people, him an one of us, so it took two trips. After a long day traveling I didn't want us to be wandering around in the dark trying to figure out a complicated site map, walking up and down inclines, etc. I wanted someone who knew to take us there the first time, which at the hardest we finally got. Then we had to shower and get dressed for the conference, find our way back to the registration desk on our own, and call a taxi to take us to this place in the boondocks, which the driver didn't know how to find, at first. Nothing was simple, but we made it to the right building on the Waldorf School complex, saw Gene Gollogly right away, and were relieved that we had made it.
The conference dealt with meditation, and began with the six presenters, Chris Bamford, Jon McAlice, Robert McDermott, Brian Gray, Beth Weisburn, and Renate Lundberg, introducing themselves. When the six had finished, one of them asked Gene Gollogly if he would tell us about his own background. This was the first time I had heard him discuss how he discovered Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy. Seems he was stuck in Basel with nothing going on on a weekend and someone told him of a performance at the Goetheanum a short train ride away in Dornach. He arrived there to experience a eurythmy performance. Following intros the presenters discussed how meditation is related to life with others and the world, after Renate led us into a discovery of eurythmy, teaching us the basic sounds, postures, and movements for the twelve astrological signs. She continued with us over the weekend until we had progressed so each of us were able to perform our own astrological sign and move in a circle with the rest of group progressively performing each of the twelve signs, so that at any moment all twelve signs were being performed; we became like the zodiacal belt of constellations moving around the night sky in a complete circle.
We were offered a ride back to our hotel by a conference member, James Eisenberg, which saved a long wait for a taxi, and gave us a chance to know James. By the time we hit the sack in our comfortable bed at the Hilton, I realized that we had been up since 2 AM California time and 22 hours later we were finally getting a good night's sleep.
The next morning we had breakfast at the restaurant. I tasted the flavors of California in the breakfast, the eggs in the omelet were plain and required several condiments to give them a flavor. Clearly I've been spoiled by the exquisite flavor of omelets and grits in New Orleans brunch fare. But we were refreshed and ready for a full day of conference. Our taxi driver got us right to the place this time, helped by our having been there already, and the daylight. Renate had us standing up and doing eurythmy, learning more of the sounds and positions of the zodiac.
For the rest of day each of the five speakers spoke in turn. Chris Bamford spoke of the path of anthroposophy that we walk together with other beings, visible and invisible, in loving service to the evolution of the world, whereby the spirit in us reaches out to the spirits in the universe. Beth Weisburn, a teacher at the Summerfield Waldorf School, led us through various exercises in meditation, such as bringing love into our cognition. Brian Gray led us through the structure of the prayer which Rudolf Steiner spoke aloud each day of his life, The Lord's Prayer, showing us the meaning of each verse as it relates the sevenfold human being. Jon McAlice focused on the turning point of Rudolf Steiner's life, when as a native clairvoyant since birth, he, at age 35, awakened to the sense world, of what "only it can reveal", to the individual who tackles the challenges and riddles of the physical and spiritual world.
Each speaker answered questions from the group, followed by ample time for refreshments (made by the excellent kitchen of the school) and for walking around the beautiful campus. After dinner we reconvened to hear Robert McDermott take us on a spirited and lively guided tour of most of the great religious thinkers of the world, ending up with his own experience of discovering Rudolf Steiner and how that discovery helped illuminate his studies of the various other great spiritual leaders. I had never heard someone cover so many philosophies of life in such a short time before. He is fine example of the quality of professors at the California Institute of Integrated Studies where he teaches.
The last was the final eurythmy performance of our troop of beginners until the gentle hand and guidance of Renate Lundberg. Like the cosmos circling around us, we circled through the zodiacal signs through eurythmy sounds and gestures, a feat I would have thought impossible two days before. After a group discussion in which everyone got to speak, we came together for a closing meditation, and said our goodbyes. Our son Robie came with his lady, Meghan, and I introduced them to Beth with the school, and other of the speakers. Beth gave us a personal tour of the Waldorf School and Farm. We saw the place where the circus tent is erected each summer for physical educations, we saw the six acre bio-dynamics farm, the blacksmith shop, the herb garden, et al.
We drove to San Anselmo, and went on a short walk to see the house Robie and Meghan are buying, only two blocks away from current rental house. I asked Robie if he had any major things he had to do to it, thinking perhaps he'd want to paint the eaves which needed it. He said, "No." and later Meghan tells us that they are planning to raise the single-story house up a level and build out the ground floor, doubling the floor space and value of the property. Other than that, nothing major. Seems the house was built before the comprehensive earthquake zoning and not bolted to the foundation. To get it bolted would require raising, no why raise it a full level?
Then we had dinner at an intimate Italian restaurant, by intimate I mean dark, packed with people, and food like you might get in a Trattoria in Rome. The fish dish was so fishy tasting that only by eating a bite of hot pepper with each bit of food was it palatable. So, I'm spoiled.In New Orleans cuisine, we cook the seasonings into the food, whereas in California cuisine you need to add seasonings after the dish arrives at your table, if you care about taste instead of looks. After dinner Robie and Walden wanted to see "Fury" the new Brad Pitt war movie, and Del and I went with them. First run movies in theaters are not my favorite, but Del loves them. Movie was dark, shot in almostll black-and-white, it was so dark. A platoon decides to hold a road against over-whelming odds, like in "Private Ryan", with an equally lugubrious outcome for the hero.
The next morning Robie & Meghan drove us to SFO airport. We had lots of time before the flight and we found Perry's Restaurant which Meghan suggested and had a great meal. Across the concourse from where we sat I spotted an cell phone accessory store. I wondered if it might have the device I wanted, but didn't know what it was called. It would allow me to plug in my camera's 65 Gb memory card and quickly upload photos to my PC. My LT has a built-in port, but my PC needs an outboard port. I went across the concorse while waiting for food to be delivered and asked the gal at the register for a device which could allow me to upload USB my memory card from my camera. She called it a Pocket Card Reader and had one for $15. Assured me it would fit. Bought it. And fit it did. Solved my problem of copying multiple days of photos to my PC. If I just plug the camera into the USB, it triggers some "smart" software which spreads each day's photos into a different folder. That creates a time-consuming hassle for me, but I can't turn off the damn smart software, so I need this "dumb" card reader thingie which works exactly as I want it to. Having a smart app take over is like hiring a "smart" assistant who is always guessing wrong about what you want done. Give me a "dumb" assistant who just says, "Okay, Chief" and does what you ask to be done quickly and simply. We got home fine and I used my new dumb assistant to quickly transfer about five days of photos with no hassle or backtalk at all! Glad I got it because a flood of photos were coming in the next two weeks.
GRETNA GREEN GOLF TOURNAMENT & CLUBHOUSE AFFAIR
Last year's Gretna Green event for the Centennial of Gretna was such a big success that it has become an Annual Event, complete with Period Costumes for golfers, (knickerbockers etal), and Roaring Twenties costumes for the ladies and guys for the Clubhouse Affair. Once more our table was full of good friends who had a blast being together is this truly festive atmosphere. Del suggested I go dressed as a Twenties Gangster, but I thought I'd go as Fred Astaire in Silk Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails. One lady asked, "Where are your taps?" Good question, which I will leave unanswered for now, as I find out how one goes about getting shoes with taps on them or better yet putting them on shoes I already own. Then I'll need tap-dancing lessons.
The day started off eventful and never stopped till we dragged ourselves home for a well-deserved nap. It was a bitter cold morning 53 degF with a stiff breeze blowin, and I saw this gal at the tent just beyond our property who seemed very much unprepared for the cold. I went over to talk to Marnie who was there for NOLA, Emeril LaGasse's restaurant downtown, which was providing gourmet sandwiches for the golfers. About six or seven of these tents dotted the 18 hole course to feed the golfers. Marnie was wearing a light blouse and thin sweater. I came inside and Del offered to let her wear the heavy denim jacket and Marnie was so thankful. I took photos of two golfing foursomes in period knickerbockers and then came inside to don my White Tie and Tails with my cane, white gloves, and Silk Top Hat. I was ripe and smiffy for sure. Del dressed up in her red flapper dress and I drove her to the Clubhouse where she helped with registering folks as they arrived. I planned to return later for the Clubhouse Affair.
Arriving back home, I put on my Top Hat, grabbed my cane, and walked out to check on how Marnie was doing. As I cleared the West Portico and stepped onto ourlawn, I noticed two nattily dressed folks all in black walking towards the tent in stride with me, clearly coming from our driveway. It was Zack Mouton and his General Manager Catherine; they were going for sandwiches so they could get something to eat before standing and serving drinks for the Affair. Zack and I had fun playing together, and Catherine posed as Ginger Rogers for a spin or two with Fred (me). After dancing with Catherine, Zack and I were lining up to have our photos taken, and I thought, guys and gals dance, what do guys and guys do? They rough-house, wrestle, fight, etc, so I took my cane and pretended to be beating Zack as he reeled back in defense.
When I drove to the Club, there was a hot-looking Hot Rod of a twenties auto roped off. I got Del to come out and have her photo taken with the car. Inside, I walked through a Theater Motif Entranceway where Del was registering folks and giving them their name tags. I met folks as they came in, and spotted Zack and Catherine doing the Bloody Mary drinks at the special Affair bar. Next to the bar, I me and talked to Alan Hale the WGSO weatherman, who had a cameraman along and was doing a news report of the event for the local TV station.At one point I noticed the 'GSO cameraman had been shooting me, so I retrieved my cane and had him film me alone doing my Astaire impersonation; the next day I got a text from our friend Renee saying, "You stole the show in your tux and top hat! You go ! ! !" I couldn't figure out how she could have seen me, until I remembered the 'GSO bit which must have made the night time news. After our lunch I found an authentic Flivver, a fully restored 1926 Model T, outside the golf-course-side of the Club owned by Eddie Tobin who rents the car for movies and various other local events. Del came outside with me and we took a series of photos. My favorite is the one with me behind the wheel taken by Del.
We had a full table (See above), as did everyone else, as the event was another sellout. John and Sandra, David and Maddie, Ron and Diane filled our table of 8. The food was great, the background music, the songs sung by Meaux Hebert, the Charleston danced by Les Dames of Timberlane in period flapper costumes. Along with the Charleston dancers, a series of Roarin' Twenties personalities appeared, Harpo Marx, the Keystone Kops, Charlie Chaplin (who began as a Kop), and several others. They mixed in with the crowd, Harpo schmoozing with the beautiful ladies as was his wont. There was a silent auction at which Del acquired a large decorated bag she wanted.
Our friends John Wayne and David enjoyed a complimentary post-prandial cigar out on the Club patio. They looked like Elwood of the Blues Bros and Jay Gatsby, sipping their cocktails and puffing away. I tried to get one photo of both of them blowing cigar smoke at the same time, but, alas, my attempt was star-crossed.
We drove Rhonda home and her husband Zack was getting ready to take out a group of 8 kayaks the next morning. That sounded more like work than fun to me, especially after a full day of bartending and celebrating at the Gretna Green Affair.
WHITE ELEPHANTS AND OLD FRIENDS
Following the Affaire on Friday, we had a full weekend of fun. Saturday was the day of Patio Planter's White Elephant Sale in the French Quarter. We had donated the Tiffany lamp which hung over our breakfast area for four years before we replaced it. Clearly it has a found a new old home in the French Quarter to grace some interior space. We parked in our usual spot and walked over to St. Philip an Royal Streets. For the first time, I noticed that the original Spanish name of the street was San Felipe. It's easy to forget the pervasive Spanish influence on the customs and people of New Orleans. One tidbit I picked up about the Cajuns who fled from the British in Nova Scotia in mid-1700s was that they originally planned to go upriver to Illnois to settle, but they were made to feel so much at home in Louisiana by our Spanish governor that they settled in Southern Louisiana, where their presence became known all over the world during the 20th Century for their music (Zydeco), food (jambalaya, gumbo), dancing (two-step), and joie-de-vivre attitude which is celebrated in festivals all over Louisiana during the mild Spring and Fall months. Thanks, Guv!
We saw Carol Fleischman running one of the sale booths, Sandra Calender at a recipe book booth, and Diane, Ron, John, Ron Whitcomb, and other Patio Planters buying and selling stuff from tents and booths in he schoolyard under shady crepe myrtles. Sunday was supposed to be a quiet day, watching the Saints beat the 49ers on TV and relaxing, but a funny thing happened on the way to the second half.
We received a phone call from Annie Koch, who was back in town. She came over with our two friends, Candice Reed (from Algiers Point), and Burke Fountain (in town from Boston). Annie gave me an update on my good friend, Guntis Melbardis, who is now staying in someone's care in Massachusetts. while Annie is here to take care of her house in Algiers Point. She and Joy are looking to buy a place in Florida attached to retirement community suitable for Guntis and them. Usually I like to watch Saints and LSU games alone, but Annie called during half-time and I thought it might be my only chance to see the three of them, besides I really wanted an update on Guntis. Our Screening Room has a capacity of two, but with extra rolling chairs can be expanded to four, and Burke took the catbird's seat on my grandfather's Barber Chair.The game went great and there were loud cheers and high-fives at many points as the Saints took the lead near the end of the game. One particularly loud cheer when Jimmy Graham caught a pass in the end-zone over the top of two guys trying to stop the pass. We were all rosy with cheering when the refs decided that the flop down by the unsuccessful defender was due to a push by Jimmy and overturned the TD. That cost the Saints the game, but we got all the enjoyment of the TD. If you enjoy a play, no referee can take away the enjoyment you felt by overturning the play.
As they were leaving I told them, "You guys can watch a Saints game with us anytime!" Burke and Candy are planning to go to the Pere Noel Bonfires on the Mississippi River levee for Christmas Eve this year and have invited us to go along with them. Fun is like love; it may be a weakness, but as Iolanthe said, "it's a weakness that's so strong!"
This is the section where I place things not because they're unimportant, but because I have only a few things to say about them. One of Del's two garden clubs met in our home this month, Twilight Garden Club, which originally met in the early evening at twilight, but over the years has migrated to noon. This is a time for white-glove inspection when Del has everything cleaned, dusted, re-arranged, and tidied up. Probably a good thing, but it always reminds of a time when I was living in Foxborough in an old 3-story Victorian house with my two stepkids, Kenny and Carol Jean, in the garret rooms on the third floor. We were expecting guests and the kids were told to clean up their room, and when the guests didn't show, Kenny said, "I cleaned up my room for nothing!" Well, the guests did show for Twilight Garden Club, and I was able to get some work during the meeting part in the living room and took a break with them for lunch. The ladies, about thirty of them, were all able to have a place to eat at various tables.
Freezing weather hit us during November, a rare meteorological feat for New Orleans so early in the year. Del had made a big pot of her minestrone soup on the first cold day and it was a blessing to have around during the freezing cold weather. The recipe calls for cans of stuff and by the time you've added the cans and other ingredients it fills a large pot, so we usually find friends to share the soup with. Our friends Burt and Renee had just lost their son in an airplane crash, so I called them and said we'd be bringing over a large bowl of soup that afternoon along with our support and condolences. We visited for a while and Burt asked me about two fig trees which had not been producing, so we went outside to look at them. One of them was tall and seemed healthy, but Burt said it produced figs but they stayed green and dropped off without getting ripe and had been doing that a few years. I had no ideas about what could be wrong, and then I saw the second tree, which was smaller and supported by a leaning PVC pipe. It occurred to me that these two trees, which he said had not produced since Katrina, must have fallen over during the storm, and he confirmed that was so. I recalled my fig tree at our previous house which fell over after a heavy rainstorm and never produced again after being up-righted. I suggested he pull out the trees and plant new ones. Apparently the roots of figs do not get restored fully after being uprooted, and the only solution is to replace them.
Our yard looks different after the freeze. The St. Augustine grass is still green, but all the usual weeds growing in spots around the yard have died, leaving light colored places. This will allow the St. Augustine grass to get a new foothold in those spaces for next year. Our artichoke plants have re-sprouted and are looking great in along the West Portico, and should provide us with artichokes to eat in a couple of months. We re-potted another orchid which had finished blooming and I added hooks and wires to hold our six orchids protected from the cold and hard sunlight under the West Portico porch. We've already seen new sprouts from the orchids we've replanted and expect to see blooms on all of them next year.
LAST MINUTE EVENTSConnie, our neighbor, has acquired two new young cats. One is called Alley and has a yellowish streak on her forehead. Both cats have seven toes on each foot and are completely tail-less. Thereupon hangs a tale. They are descendants of a cat given to Ernest Hemingway in Key West by some foreign boat captain and all their offspring have seven-toes and are tail-less, but come with this tale. Here's a photo of Alley, who is not an alley cat, but a cat with 9 lives, 28 toes, 0 tails, and 1 tale.
THANKSGIVING TRIP TO ALEXANDRIA
My brother Paul and I both have daughters living in Alexandria, Louisiana, but he outdoes me three ways on the Alexandria bit as he also has a son in living in Alexandria, Virginia and a grandson named Alexander Matherne. Del and I drove up Wednesday afternoon and got there about 7:30 PM as we expected, bypassing any possible heavy traffic through Baton Rouge by taking Hwy 90 to Lafayette.
Early on Thanksgiving morning, Wes was up cooking the turkey and I was up cooking the oyster dressing. Kim and Del prepared the side dishes while Wes cooked some sausage, shrimp, and rice dish and a couple of other things. Our grand-daughter came by in the afternoon with a couple of pies and Stephen in her arms and a baby in the oven, due near Del's birthday in April.
The day before I had made shrimp-stuffed merlitons, brought them with us and chilled them in fridge overnight, then baked them at 225 degF for 30 minutes for Thanksgiving. Sometime that day I read a piece in NY Times which listed the iconic Turkey side-dishes for various states and guess what was Louisiana's iconic dish, Shrimp-stuffed Merlitons! Apparently unheard of and unliked north of the Cajun border town of Bunkie, however. We were delighted by the leftovers.
Thanksgiving Week saw my four offspring scattered to the corners of the USA: Robie at his home in San Francisco, Maureen with her crew in a condo in Disneyworld, Carla and her crew having pizza at Grimaldi's, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, & watching the Macy's Parade as it snowed in Manhattan, and Yvette with her crew kayaking down the Santa Helena River in Big Bend Park in southmost Texas. See the photos they texted me of their whereabouts in the Eye of Zoltar review at the bottom of this issue.
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO A NEW BEGINNINGIMPORTANT MESSAGE:
The past 30 days of November have breezed by, with lots of cold breezes, a couple of freezes, and generally nice dry weather good for soups, gumbos, and hot chocolate, all of which makes November in New Orleans and South Louisiana a prime time for tourists, for celebrations and for festivals. The first two weeks were a buzzsaw of activity, from a conference in San Francisco to the Gretna Green Celebration in our home city. LSU won a big game against Ole Miss and then failed miserably against Alabama and Arkansas due to the lack of a serious passing game, but re-discovered its serious running game in time to whip Texas A&M on their home turf. Our Saints lost three home games in a row, but stayed at the top of the Dumpster Heap of Stinkers called the NFC South. Still, by winning the next three division games against our rivals, the Saints can make a run for the Super Bowl. Till we meet again, after our Thanksgiving celebration when the chilling winds of December bring our second taste of wintry weather to New Orleans, God Willing and the River doesn't overflow its levees, Whatever you do, Wherever in the world you and yours Reside, be it Early Winter or Late-Spring:
Remember our earnest wish for you during the last Month of this God-given year:
MAY YOUR WORLD REMAIN PEACEFUL AND SERENE IN TWENTY-FOURTEEN
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Quotes Selected from quotes.htm this month:
- (SAMPLE) What frenzy has of late posssess'd the brain
Though few can write, yet fewer can refrain."
Samuel Garth ( 17th-century physician and poet ) US writer
New Stuff on Website:From Flowers of Shanidar, A 1990 Book of Poetry by Bobby Matherne
In a small dark cave in the hills of Northern Iraq near the Turkish border the excavator Ralph Solecki found in 1960 the bones of a young man placed in the recess between two large boulders. Analysis of the remains from the cave of Shanidar determined that the burial occurred over 60,000 years ago.
Soil samples collected near the bones were only analyzed several years later and produced a quite unexpected result. Ordinarily a small random assortment of pollen grains would be found in funereal soil samples, but the Shanidar soil analysis revealed thousands of pollen grains from wild flowers of the region. Flowers of rose mallow, hollyhocks, hyacinths, and other indigenous varieties of flowers had been systematically collected and transported to the cave of Shanidar as a funerary tribute.
Astonished, the scientists were confronted with the earliest known evidence of a burial ritual. From the very dawn of mankind a message had come down to us, written in pollen grains from the flowers of Shanidar, of the birth of a new consciousness the consciousness of death. (Note: scientists with no apparent interest in the evolution of consciousness have tried to evaporate away the meaning of these pollen grains. I pity them.)
How far have we progressed in the knowledge of ultimate destinations in the 600 centuries since that funeral celebration? As we stand before the door to the new millennium, do we dare to knock? Are we ready for the new flowers of Shanidar and the birth of consciousness that will surely accompany our passage into that new era?
These poems are from Bobby Matherne?s 1990 book of poetry, Flowers of Shanidar and have never been published on the Internet before. Here in the beginning of the new millennium, we are publishing a poem or two each month until all poems have been published on-line. (Flowers drawn by Artist Maureen Grace Matherne) The rest of the five poems come from Bobby's 1995 book of poetry, Rainbows & Shadows, all of which will be published for the first time on-line.
If it's worth doing,
You can always find someone
Whose heart's desire it would be
To do the parts
You don't want to do.
If you can't find someone
Whose heart's desire it would be
To do the parts
You don't want to do —
It's not worth doing.
Whenever I see or hear the phrase "the truth about X"
I know that someone is up to some tricks,
That, in the homely disguise of verified facts,
Someone is trying to sell me belief.
Not as an anodyne for my relief,
But a set of rules to govern my acts.
Originators are often uncouth,
Their rules are made out of distorted truth,
Twisted by followers to hide their lacks,
Into their dogma they stuffed all their rules
For unthinking theologians and fools,
Wanting all heresy off of their backs.
The truth about truth is easy to see:
When someone's true to himself
The dogma remains unused on the shelf.
At last the paradox occurs to me:
Inside of dogma there may be some truth,
But there's little or no dogma in truth.
3. Chapter: Rainbows
This month, as we near the completion of Bobby's first book of Poetry, Flowers of Shanidar,
we continue with a poem from the Rainbows Chapter of his second book of Poetry,
Rainbows & Shadows (1995).
This month we read
There are books that give scientific odds
on anything you ever
hoped or feared
might happen to you,
Everything being equal.
But science has never proven
that everything is equal —
it has merely assumed
that everything is equal.
Yet science has
Convinced enough Western minds
that this is so
that, believing this is so,
it has become so,
Thus providing a convincing demonstration
that reality follows belief
And therefore the odds of any of those things
happening to you are not the same
as of them happening to anyone else,
but rather depend on your belief
in the possibility of them happening to you.
Odds are individual, not global,
as any gambler will assure you.
Chances are no scientist will ever believe this.
4. Chapter: Shadows5. Chapter: Violets
This month, as we near the completion of Bobby's first book of Poetry, Flowers of Shanidar,
we continue with a poem from the Shadows Chapter of his second book of Poetry,
Rainbows & Shadows (Written 1995, before Pootin' smelled up Russia).
This month we read
Who would have thought
Russia would get free enterprise
and the USA a czar?
Russia would give artists free expression
and the US would outlaw:
artworks in Cleveland
music in Miami and
free expression of beliefs
Russia would free the Baltic States
and the US would send troops
Russia would guarantee human rights
and the US would chip away
at the Bill of Rights
Russia would get McDonald's
and we would get a Drugs-Czar-US?
Wildflower No. 9
We can drive out the Jews and the Arabs
but not Reuben and Ahkmad.
We can massacre the Indians
but not Rainbow Dancing Waters.
We can enslave the blacks
but not Aunt Jemima.
We can kill the Hun
but not Hans and Gretel.
We can bomb the Japs
but not the Suzukis.
The greatest crimes against humanity
are perpetrated against stereotypes
not actual people,
but it is the actual people
Reuben, Ahkmad, Rainbow Dancing Waters, Aunt Jemima, Hans, Gretel, and the Suzukis.
New Stuff on the Internet:
- [add here]
Movies we watched this past month:Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, no commercial interruptions, and all of the original dialogue. Microwave some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. With a plasma TV and Blu-Ray DVD's and a great sound system, you have theater experience without someone next to you talking on a cell phone during a movie plus a Pause button for rest room trips.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise have missed along the way.):
P. S. Ask for Blu-Ray movies from NetFlix, and if it says DVD in your Queue, click and select Blu-Ray version."The Giver" (2014) a black and white world without conflict or emotions stabilized by drugs and secret killings is uncovered by Jacob, the designated Receiver of the truth, who flees with Gabe. Will they make it to the boundary which will bring color and life into this Utopian dystopia? Few inquiring minds even wanted to know.
"Draft Day" (2014) Kevin Costner stars as General Manager for NFL team who needs to sparkle in the Draft or eyes and heads will roll. What he does appears to be complete foolishness. Will it pay off? A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
Edge of Tomorrow (2014) comes from what happens today and today and today . . . A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! ! !
"Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond" (2014) four episodes about Ian Fleming's life, a wonderful movie as suspenseful and gripping as a James Bond movie, except in this one we get to watch as the author lives through Bond-like adventures on his way to writing them. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
The Music Never Stopped (2011) for a young man who lost all short-term memory and music created hope for some restoration. Inspired by The Last Hippie essay by Oliver Sacks. A DONT MISS HIT ! ! !
Prime (2006) Girl 37 falls in love with her therapists son 23. Age, religion, momma genes, and occupational ethics all interweave and tear Myrle Streep apart. A DONT MISS HIT ! ! !
"Almost Famous" (2000) All play and no work — the life of a rock band gathering moss on its way to the cover of the Rolling Stone. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter" (2012) is a witness to a murder and as such is squelched from writing about it, but not from solving it.
"Life of Crime" (2014) A kidnaping goes bad, er, good, and a new kidnaping breaks out, but it's all in fun.
"Sex Tape" (2014) may entice you two to make a sex tape with the camera off.
"Frontera" (2014) is the border between USA and Mexico and movie shows the people who hurt and help those who try to cross for love and money.
"The Usual Suspects" (1995) rounding them up for another look and they still look suspicious. A DON'T MISS HIT !
"Showboat" (1951) if you were under 50 when you first experienced this musical, enjoy it again as a mature adult, with tears in your eyes as Old Man River rolls along. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel" (1951) elusive Commander of German forces, was he a traitor or a true patriot of his beloved Fatherland? A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"The Kid Stays in the Picture" (2002) Darryl Zanuck said those words about an inexperienced Bob Evans and the kid stayed in pictures for over 35 years, becoming a Zanuck like producer for Paramount. This is his life and A DON'T MISS HIT !
"The Fault in Our Stars" (2014) and not in the script which was flawless. Dom Perinnon said, "God made champagne so we could taste the stars" and this movie so we could taste the power of love. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off."Wish I Was Here" (2014) and wished I was immediately STOMPING THE DVD!!!
"A Million Ways to Die in the West" (2014) and one more to die today: watch this awful movie, from which we ejected just in time to save ourselves! Or better yet, just empty a six-shooter through the DVD and then give it an old-fashioned DVD STOMPING! ! !
"22 Jump Street" (2014) can go jump in the river after jumping just about everywhere else, with a few guffaws for a stunt or two. It's now a 10-4 Street.
Your call on these your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:The Theory of Everything (2006) proved full of nothing until a trip to Alaska reveals the Northern Lights due to Solar Flares from the Sun which filled the abstract logical physicist with Christ. Slow, plodding, repetitious, uneven script, but worth watching.
"The Christmas Candle (2013) Max Lucado story of a candle inspiring faith in people of a small town.
Half of a Yellow Sun (2013) a story of twin sisters during the Nigerian revolution which led to the separate country of Biafra. Del picked up that the title describes the center symbol on the Biafran flag, a yellow Sun quickly rising and 2.5 years later quickly setting.
The Most Wanted Man (2014) makes for the least wanted movie. Boring spy stuff leaves audience waiting and waiting and waiting till it ends with a whimper.
The Fading Gigolo (2013) muffs a menage ΰ trois with Sharon Stone. Gotta see this to believe it.
"Fury" (2014) Brad Pitt as tank commander who throw a track and decides to make a stand against the hated SS troops coming his way. Dark, hard to see who the good guys or bad guys were. Needed some Private Ryan clarity, but only got Tom Hanks death.
"Sabotege" (2014) Arnold says, "I'll be back!" in a bloody awful revenge quest.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Le Broussard Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
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Without telling her husband Boudreaux, Marie went to a 12-Step Workshop in New Orleans, not to stop drinking, but to get out from under her husband's control. The leader of the workshop, a big woman named Brunehilda, spoke for an hour about Women's Rights and at the end gave everyone an assignment. "For Step 1," Brunehilda said, "you are all to go home and tell your husbands, 'From now on, I won't be ironing your shirts and cooking your food.' Understand, ladies?"
A month later, the ladies returned for Step 2. Brunehilda spoke to the ladies, "Before I give you the instructions for Step 2, it's important that we check on your progress with Step 1. "
"Madeline, you went home to your husband in Shreveport and told him, right?"
"And what did you see?"
"Well," Madeline said, "the first day I didn't see anything, and the next day I didn't see anything, but by the third day I spotted him out the corner of my eye ironing his shirt."
"That's great, Madeline. Let's take Eloise from New Roads, what did you see, Eloise?"
"Well, the first day I saw nothing, and also nothing the second day, but on the third day I walked into the kitchen and saw him frying some eggs for breakfast."
"Good, Eloise. Next, from Breaux Bridge, Marie, what did you see?"
"Mais, de first day Ah couldn't see nuttin', and de second day, nuttin', but on de t'ird day, Ah could see a little light out of my right eye."
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5.Household Hint for December, 2014 from Bobby Jeaux from Bobby Jeaux:
(click links to see photo of preparation steps)
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Keeping Celery Fresh & Crisp in Fridge
Background: About twenty years ago when I took over the groceries while working as a writer at home, I made friends with a produce man named Jim Kelly at our local A&P Supermarket. One day I was buying some celery and Jim told me of a way to keep the celery fresh and crisp in a refrigerator. It worked! I have used it ever since and our celery rarely goes yellow and limp after a month or more. Occasionally, one or two stalks turn yellow and I discard them.
Remove the celery from its bag if any. Trim away the darkened root area, carefully making sure to leave the outer stalks attached to the base. Chop off the top inch or so of the stalk. Using standard aluminum foil, pull off a section about 6" longer than the stalk. Center the stalk lengthwise in the foil as shown here.
Roll the foil over to cover the celery with about an inch or two of overlap. Take each end and fold over the celery stalk. To work, there should be no celery showing when finished wrapping. If the celery is too thick, remove a few outer stalks and wrap them separately.
Place into the Vegetable Crisper to store.
To Use Celery
Open the foil and remove a few stalks. Then carefully re-wrap the celery. If at any time you notice a hole in the foil, re-wrap with a new piece of foil.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from Guidance in Esoteric Training:
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No I Tu Love
What would life be like
If we had no I tu love?
Could we live if we had no evil?
If we had no I tu love?
Madam, I'm Adam is a palindrome,
Which reads and means the same
From back to front to back.
What shall we call a word like evolution
Which reveals its outer meaning
Front to Back
And reveals its inner meaning
No I Tu Love
Back to Front?
"Take evolution . . . Please," Henny Youngman might have said,
If he wished to monkey with the human race
As Charlie Darwin did.
"Please pass me a banana" — no monkey has ever spoken that line,
Having no concept of I, or me, or Thou.
What Charlie did was turn the idea of humanity
into a game of chance, naturally,
with selection happenstance,
Treating I am God
As antiquated Dogma, I think,
Reminding us what would life be like
If we had no I tu love.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for December:
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For our Good Readers, here are the reviews and articles featured this month. The first and second review this month will be ones which were published in early DIGESTWORLD ISSUES but only as short blurbs so the full reviews will be of interest to our new Good Readers. The rest of the items will be new additions to the top of A Reader's Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, new additions to A Reader's Treasury, or Essays previously unpublished.
NOTE: some Blurbs may be condensations of long Reviews, possibly lacking footnotes and some quoted passages. For your convenience, if you wish to read the full review or to print it out, simply CLICK on the Book Cover or choose Printer Ready option on the top line of a review page when it opens.
1.) ARJ2: The Light Course, Vol 1 & 2, GA#320 by Rudolf Steiner
If you are a scientist, you learn from books and from people who learn from books. Goethe learned from his own experience, and Steiner, who edited Goethe's archives, learned from books, learned from Goethe's works, and learned from his own experience . One could almost say that Rudolf Steiner was the only man of the 20th Century who truly understood Goethe's approach to science. To my knowledge Steiner was the only scientist to extend Goethe's works on science and in this Light Course, he teaches his audience as he would expect Waldorf teachers to teach their classes: he introduces a subject, demonstrates through a couple of experiments, asks the class to ponder the experiment, and suggests that they devote their attention to, as Dragnet's Joe Friday would put it, "Just the facts, Ma'am."
Since I am a scientist, in fact, the very type of scientist that Steiner discusses over and over in these lectures, namely, a physicist, I read this entire book avidly and with full concentration. Here was someone demonstrating to me aspects of physical reality that I had ignored for the most part, up until now. That I was systematically trained to ignore these aspects offered me no excuse I was humbled to see the solid truth in Steiner's arguments and see through the diaphanous veil of truth that I had been taught by textbooks and professors to accept as reality. Rightly understood, the textbook companies and professors should be fired and my university should regret the situation and offer me an apology, just as happened when a sportswriter reported on a baseball game he only watched on TV [ August 20, 2003: reported by Poynteronline, Romenesko ],
A Sacramento Bee sportswriter was fired after editors discovered he covered a Giants game by watching it on TV and used old quotes from other media outlets for his game story. "The Bee regrets the situation and apologizes to its readers," writes sports editor.
One does not promote solid truth by reading textbooks and simply sharing what one found in the textbooks one must incorporate it into one's own truth. The solid truth I found while reading this book was not Goethe's truth of 1825, not Steiner's truth of 1919, but Bobby Matherne's truth of 2003. I will share with you the path I took to arrive at my truth, but reading this review will likely not suffice to bring you to see your own truth, dear Reader that will require some serious study on your part, accompanied by a full reading of The Light Course yourself. [Note: to access The Light Course, you will have to select Übersetzungen, then Englisch, then click on title. Also note that the page numbers for the quotes in this review refer to the pages of a book I printed out and do not correspond to any other book's page numbers.]
In the following two passages, Steiner summarizes what the theme of this book is for us:
[page 100, 101] What I am trying to present in these lectures is not what you can get from the first text-book you may purchase. Nor is it what you can get by reading Goethe's Theory of Color. It is intended to be, what you will find in neither of the two, and what will help you make the spiritual link between them. We are not credulous believers in the Physics of today, nor need we be of Goethe. It was in 1832 that Goethe died. What we are seeking is not a Goetheanism of the year 1832 but one of 1919, further evolved and developed.
page 167] . . . my main purpose in these lectures is to tell you what you will not find in the text-books. The text-book knowledge I may none the less bring forward, is only given as a foundation for the other.
The Foreword of the book begins with a passage from Steiner's Autobiography that is worth noting here as it applies to the content and thrust of these lectures.
[page 9] Those who were striving to transcend the mechanical explanation of the World generally lacked the courage to admit that if we want to overcome the mechanistic system we must also overcome the habits of thought which have led to it. The time was calling, yet called in vain, for a clear recognition of this kind. The orientation of our faculties of knowledge towards the outer senses enables us to penetrate what is mechanical in Nature. This mental tendency has become habitual throughout the second half of the 19th century. If the mechanical aspect of the world no longer satisfied us now, we ought not to expect to reach into higher regions in the identical frame of mind. The outer senses develop and awaken in the human being, so to speak, of their own accord; but on this basis we can only gain insight into the mechanical domain. If we desire to know more than this, we must by dint of our own efforts give to our deeper, latent faculties of knowledge the same development which Nature gives the powers of the senses.
To use a crude metaphor, if you reach the edge of a cliff, it's time to learn to fly if you wish to proceed. Steiner predicts the day when we will in fact learn to fly it will come when we learn once more that Matter proceeds from Spirit. The quote is from The Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity by Rudolf Steiner (1911):
In time to come there will be physicists and chemists whose teaching will not be such as now prevails under the influence of the Egypto-Chaldean Spirits that have remained behind, but who will teach that Matter is built up in the way in which the Christ has gradually ordained it. Even into the laws of Chemistry and Physics the Christ will be found. Thus will a spiritual form of Chemistry and Physics come to pass in future.
What's the problem with physics, chemistry, and every other science as they are taught in universities today? Steiner outlines three things, three processes that scientists follow. One, they classify beings and phenomena in Nature into species and other groupings. Two, they strive to arrive at the causes of things. They begin with what is thought to be known and proceed via experiments to uncover from the unknown the evidence to explain the cause of what was thought to be known. Three, they create "Laws of Nature" to explain the phenomena they observe, such as the falling of a stone. Let's list these three approaches of science and contrast them with the approach of Goethe and Steiner.
1. Classify Goethe focused on metamorphosis or how nature moved from one sort of thing to another.
2. Experiments Goethe chose to stay in the sphere of what is known.
3. Laws of Nature instead of laws Goethe applied his thinking to create an archetypal phenomena, the Ur-phenomena, which he used to make the workings of the world transparent and comprehensible.
[page 22] Thus Goethe looks upon the whole of scientific method so to call it purely and simply as a means of grouping the phenomena. Staying amid the actual phenomena, he wants to group them in such a way that they themselves express their secrets. He nowhere seeks to recur from the so-called "known" to an "unknown" of any kind. Hence too for Goethe in the last resort there are not what may properly be called "Laws of Nature". He is not looking for such Laws. What he puts down as the quintessence of his researches are simple facts the fact, for instance, of how light will interact with matter that is in its path. Goethe puts into words how light and matter interact. That is no "law"; it is a pure and simple fact. And upon facts like this he seeks to base his contemplation, his whole outlook upon Nature. What he desires, fundamentally, is a rational description of Nature. Only for him there is a difference between the mere crude description of a phenomenon as it may first present itself, where it is complicated still and untransparent, and the description which emerges when one has sifted it, so that the simple essentials and they alone stand out. This then the Urphenomenon is what Goethe takes to be fundamental, in place of the unknown entities or the conceptually defined "Laws" of customary Science.
On the way to studying Nature, Steiner says there are three things scientists typically use: One number (arithmetic), Two Geometry, and Three Kinematics (the science of movement). Each of these three ways of studying Nature involves mental pictures. This is not enough, even for the science of mechanics.
[page 27] Arithmetic, Geometry and Kinematics are not yet Natural Sciences in the proper sense. To reach the first of the Natural Sciences, which is Mechanics, we have to go beyond the life of ideas and mental pictures.
[page 29] We need to be very clear on this point. The truths of arithmetic, geometry and kinematics, these we undoubtedly determine apart from external Nature. But we must also be clear, to what extent these truths are applicable to that which meets us, in effect, from quite another side and, to begin with, in mechanics. Not till we get to mechanics, have we the content of what we call "phenomenon of Nature."
In physics I was taught about forces and potentials how to calculate potentials at any point in a field of centric forces, etc. With some arithmetic, geometry, kinematics it's possible to integrate the potential field and make calculations of what these centric forces would be at any point. I was led to believe that this general approach would work for inorganic and organic material that organic material containing life could be treated identically to inanimate material. What I didn't know was that inanimate material depends on centric forces whereas life depends on circumferential or cosmic forces. Thus, physics, chemistry and all the related sciences break down when they attempt to apply their methods to life-bearing material this brings us to the crux of the problem with the sciences that we mentioned earlier.
[page 32] Yet in this way I could never explain any process involving Life. In effect, the forces that are essential to a living thing have no potential; they are not centric forces. If at a given point d you tried to trace the physical effects due to the influences of a, b and c, you would indeed be referring to the effects to centric forces, and you could do so. But if you want to study the effects of Life you can never do this. For these effects, there are no centers such as a or b or c. Here you will only take the right direction with your thinking when you speak thus: Say that at d there is something alive. I look for the forces to which the life is subject. I shall not find them in a, nor in b, nor in c, nor when I go still farther out. I only find them when as it were I go to the very ends of the world and, what is more, to the entire circumference at once. Taking my start from d, I should have to go to the outermost ends of the Universe and imagine forces to the working inward from the spherical circumference from all sides, forces which in their interplay unite in d . It is the very opposite of the centric forces with their potentials. How to calculate a potential for what works inward from all sides, from the infinitudes of space? In the attempt, I should have to dismember the forces; one total force would have to be divided into ever smaller portions. Then I should get nearer and nearer the edge of the World: the force would be completely sundered, and so would all my calculation. Here in effect it is not centric forces; it is cosmic, universal forces that are at work. Here, calculation ceases.
But you might wish to ask me: "Do you understand how successful physics and the other sciences have been in creating the technology that surrounds us and enhances our lives daily?" And I would have to say, "Yes, this human-made technology has improved our lives. And I agree that these sciences with their centric forces have made this technology possible. But what is true for machines is not true for natural objects outside of human-made machines."
[page 33] All that Man makes by way of machines all that is pieced together by Man from elements supplied by Nature herein we find the purely centric forces working, working according to their potentials. What is existing in Nature outside us on the other hand even in inorganic Nature can never be referred exclusively to centric forces. In Nature there is no such thing; it never works completely in that way: Save in the things made artificially by Man, the workings of centric forces and cosmic are always flowing together in their effects. In the whole realm of so-called Nature there is nothing in the proper sense un-living. The one exception is what Man makes artificially; man-made machines and mechanical devices.
Steiner tells us that the truth of this was profoundly clear to Goethe.
[page 33, 34] In him, it was a Nature-given instinct, and his whole outlook upon Nature was built upon this basis. Herein we have the quintessence of the contrast between Goethe and the modern Scientist as represented by Newton. The scientists of modern time have only looked in one direction, always observing external Nature in such a way as to refer all things to centric forces, as it were to expunge all that in Nature which cannot be defined in terms of centric forces and their potentials. Goethe could not make do with such an outlook. What was called "Nature" under this influence seemed to him a void abstraction. There is reality for him only where centric forces and peripheric or cosmic forces are alike concerned, where there is interplay between the two. On this polarity, in the last resort, his Theory of Color is also founded, of which we shall be speaking in more detail in the next few days.
Here we have Steiner laying out for us his plan for the "Light Course" in which we will be able to see reality demonstrated in the interplay of the centric forces and cosmic forces. We are now over 80 years since Steiner gave these lectures and humankind has learned a lot more about atomic forces, quantum reality, and the nature of light, but the insights that Steiner shares with us in these lectures ring as true today as they did back then to those who will approach them with an open mind, not as a textbook indoctrinated machine, but as a true scientist.
Mass makes itself known by the pressure it exerts. Steiner has us exert pressure on a part of our body and to notice the effect. If we do it long enough and hard enough we lose consciousness. We can write m in an equation to represent mass and understand the concept as it is applied in kinematical equations, but what does it mean to our human experience?
[page 41, 42] Follow the thought a little farther and you will no longer be so remote from understanding what is implied when we write down the m. All that is kinematical unites, as it were, quite neutrally with our consciousness. This is no longer so when we encounter what we have designated m. Our consciousness is dimmed at once. If this only happens to a slight extent we can still bear it; if to a great extent, we can bear it no longer. What underlies it is the same in either case. Writing down m, we are writing down that in Nature which, if it does unite with our consciousness, eliminates it, that is to say, puts us partially to sleep. You see then, why it cannot be followed kinematically. All that is kinematical rests in our consciousness quite neutrally. The moment we go beyond this, we come into regions which are opposed to our consciousness and tend to blot it out.
Mass — we cannot live with it in consciousness, but we cannot live without it. It must be present in us, in the human being, in some part of us that is unconscious. That part is called the Will.
[page 42] Nevertheless, although we cannot live with consciousness in all that, for instance, which is implied in the letter m, yet with our full human being we do live in it after all. We live in it above all with our Will. And as to how we live in Nature with our Will, I will now try to illustrate it with an example. Once more I take my start from something you will probably recall from your school-days; I have no doubt you learned it.
He demonstrates the Archimedes Principle by dipping an object in a tank of water and showing how the weight or pressure exerted by the mass is reduced according to the volume of water displaced. It was this discovery he made while immersing himself into his bath water that led Archimedes to jump from his tub and run naked through the streets of Syracuse crying, "Eureka!" Steiner points out how our brain weighs only 20 grams while living in our skull afloat in its cerebral fluid. Were it not for the fluid reducing the weight of the brain, its mass would force us into unconsciousness. Again, this is not a hypothesis, but an observable fact, as any doctor who has drained the cerebral fluid from a living human's skull can attest.
[page 44] While, with some justice we may regard the brain as the instrument of our Intelligence and life of soul at least, a portion of our life of soul we must not reckon merely with the ponderable brain. This is not there alone; there is also the buoyancy, by virtue of which the brain is really tending upward, contrary to its own weight. This then is what it signifies. With our Intelligence we live not in forces that pull downward but on the contrary, in forces that pull upward. With our Intelligence, we live in a force of buoyancy.
While our brain floats, the rest of the body below the brain, except the spinal cord, exerts pressure downward and, as a result, is unconscious and in those unconscious parts of our lower body lives the Will. Steiner has now given us the background necessary for us to comprehend how the physical and the spiritual work together.
[page 45] We have to consider man, not in the abstract manner of today, but so as to bring the spiritual and the physical together. Only the spiritual must now be conceived in so strong and robust a way as to embrace also the knowledge of the physical. In the human being we then see upon the one hand the lightening into Intelligence, brought about by one kind of connection with the material life connection namely with the buoyancy which is at work there. Whilst on the other hand, where he has to let his Will be absorbed, sucked-up as it were, by the downward pressure, we see men being put to sleep. For the Will works in the sense of this downward pressure. Only a tiny portion of it, amounting to the 20 grams' pressure of which we spoke, manages to filter through to the Intelligence. Hence our intelligence is to some extent permeated by Will. In the main however, what is at work in the Intelligence is the very opposite of ponderable matter. We always tend to go up and out beyond our head when we are thinking.
Thus we have 20 grams that enters our Will, and with the other 1230 grams we live in our Intelligence. When we tell people to lighten up today, we are saying to them, don't be so ponderable, use your Intelligence. On the contrary when people get depressed, what do they feel like? Heavy. Down. What do they most want to do? Go unconscious, sleep, anything but lighten up. Coincidental or deep insight? You decide.
Our etheric body likes to move about it is constantly in motion it loves floating, swimming, dancing, ice-skating, flying, etc. In the movie, Lawrence of Arabia, theres a scene which illustrates an innate knowledge of the effects of the etheric bodys floating about. At one point on the long journey through the desert, Sharif comes up to Lawrence, hits him with his stick to bring him awake, and explains, You were drifting. I was thinking, Lawrence replies. Beware, Lawrence, you were drifting. Lawrences etheric body was floating around and he was joining it and disconnecting from the reality of the moment, which on a camel in the middle of the desert trek can be fatal.[See ARJ2, page 9 quote: From Mammoths to Mediums.] Because our brain is floating, the etheric body likes to hang with or play in the vicinity of the brain and our brain partakes of the etheric body's intelligence by its propinquity. [See ibid. page 100 quote.] Steiner is revealing to us how the material and the spiritual worlds work together in the human being.
[page 46, 47] Now to proceed: what happens through the facts that with our brain but for the 20 grams into which enters the unconscious Will we live in the sphere of Intelligence? What happens is that inasmuch as we here make the brain our instrument, for our Intelligence, we are unburdened of down-ward-pulling matter. The latter is well-nigh eliminated, to the extent that 1230 grams' weight is lost. Even to this extent is heavy matter eliminated, and for our brain we are thereby enabled, to a very high degree, to bring our etheric body into play. Unembarrassed by the weight of matter, the etheric body can here do what it wants. In the rest of our body on the other hand, the ether is overwhelmed by the weight of matter. See then this memberment of man. In the part of him which serves Intelligence, you get the ether free, as it were, while for the rest of him you get it bound to the physical matter. Thus in our brain the etheric organism in some sense overwhelms the physical, while for the rest of our body the forces and functionings of the physical organization overwhelm those of the etheric.
If it is true that we lose consciousness in the presence of mass, it is equally true that we become more conscious or awake in the presence of light. The two synonyms of "light" in English "lacking mass" and "the medium that provides our sight" coincidence or deep truth? When we feel heavy with mass in the dark, we become drowsy; when we feel light in the daylight, we become more awake. These are no abstract thoughts of Arithmetic, Geometry, or Kinematics that I am asking you to take on faith these are readily observable conditions of daily life, of being human.
The next experiment Steiner leads us through upends Newtonian optics and much of the theory I was taught about light in my physics courses. Here's the classic demonstration of the properties of light; it still exists in every physical science textbook extent, to my knowledge: You open a tiny hole in the curtain, allow sunlight to pass through the room and make a tiny bright dot of light on a screen. Now you intersect the beam of light with a prism, point down and an amazing thing happens, which will come as no surprise to you: the dot spreads out into a continuous rainbow of colors, from deep red at the bottom to violet at the top. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I was told that this shows that light is composed of these seven colors and that the prism has simply "separated" the white light into a spectrum of its "component colors." I put the two words in quotes for the simple reason that no evidence whatsoever was offered to substantiate that light consists of the seven colors other than the prism experiment. But, lacking any alternate explanation for the appearance of the spectrum when the prism was interposed, I accepted the abstract descriptions associated with "separated" and "component colors." Was I not given an alternate explanation because none existed at the time (1958)? No. In fact, Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous German philosopher and poet, had given an alternate explanation over a hundred years prior to 1958. It is this explanation we will encounter next, and my use of the word "explanation" must be now modified to be "description", because, as you will find, "explanation" based on abstract thought was not used by Goethe at all. What Goethe used was "description" of the phenomena he explored. And what he described, you can observe directly with your senses without having to manipulate any abstract concepts like "separated" and "component colors." For many of you, I'm sure that will be a relief!
What Goethe begins with is a large circle of light instead of a tiny dot. He describes what he finds, and you can confirm this for yourself, if you wish. The circle of uniform white light is deflected upward and on the screen at the top of the circle is a blue fringe and at the bottom of the circle is a yellow fringe. The two poles of light, if you will, appear at the top and the bottom of the otherwise uniform circle. If you gradually narrow the hole through which the light flows, you will reach the point where the seven color spectrum appears because the colors which first appear only at the top and bottom of the large circle begin to blend in the middle as we make the circle smaller and smaller.
The next step will be a little mind-bending, so I'll warn you in advance. You will notice that in the larger circle of light the colors appear at the interface of light and dark at the top and bottom. Steiner will ask you to treat dimness and darkness as flowing just as you have treated light as flowing to the screen. It is where light and darkness intermix that we will find the phenomena we call color.
[page 52, 53] Now in some respect, however little, every material medium is dim. So is this prism here. It always dims the light to some extent. That is to say, with respect to the light that is there within the prism, we are dealing with a light that is somehow dimmed. Here to begin with (pointing to Figure above) we have the light as it shines forth; here on the other hand we have the light that has made its way through the material medium. In here however, inside the prism, we have a working-together of matter and light; a dimming of the light arises here. That the dimming of the light has a real effect, you can tell from the simple fact that when you look into light through a dim or cloudy medium you see something more. The dimming has an effect, this is perceptible. What is it that comes about by the dimming of the light? We have to do not only with the cone of light that is here bent and deflected, but also with this new factor the dimming of the light, brought about by matter. We can imagine therefore into this space beyond the prism not only the light is shining, but there shines in, there rays into the light the quality of dimness that is in the prism. How then does it ray in? Naturally it spreads out and extends after the light has gone through the prism. What has been dimmed and darkened, rays into what is light and bright. You need only think of it properly and you will admit: the dimness too is shining up into this region. If what is light is deflected upward, then what is dim is deflected upward too. That is to say, the dimming is deflected upward in the same direction as the light is. The light that is deflected upward has a dimming effect, so to speak, sent after it. Up there, the light cannot spread out unimpaired, but into it the darkening, the dimming effect is sent after. Here then we are dealing with the interaction of two things: the brightly shining light, itself deflected, and then the sending into it of the darkening effect that is poured into this shining light. Only the dimming and darkening effect is here deflected in the same direction as the light is. And now you see the outcome. Here in this upward region the bright light is infused and irradiated with dimness, and by this means the dark or bluish colors are produced.
[page 53, 54] How is it then when you look further down? The dimming and darkening shines downward too, naturally. But you see how it is. Whilst here there is a part of the outraying light where the dimming effect takes the same direction as the light that surges through so to speak with its prime force and momentum, here on the other hand the dimming effect that has arisen spreads and shines further, so that there is a space for which the cylinder of light as a whole is still diverted upward, yet at the same time, into the body of light which is thus diverted upward, the dimming and darkening effect rays in. Here is a region where, through the upper parts of the prism, the dimming and darkening goes downward. Here therefore we have a region where the darkening is deflected in the opposite sense, opposite to the deflection of the light. Up there, the dimming or darkening tends to go into the light; down here, the working of the light is such that the deflection of it works in an opposite direction to the deflection of the dimming, darkening effect. This, then, is the result: Above, the dimming effect is deflected in the same sense as the light; thus in a way they work together. The dimming and darkening gets into the light like a parasite and mingles with it. Down here on the contrary, the dimming rays back into the light but is overwhelmed and as it were suppressed by the latter. Here therefore, even in the battle between bright and dim between the lightening and darkening the light predominates. The consequences of this battle the consequences of the mutual opposition of the light and dark, and of the dark being irradiated by the light, are in this downward region the red or yellow colors. So therefore we may say: Upward, the darkening runs into the light and there arise the blue shades of color; downward, the light outdoes and overwhelms the darkness and there arise the yellow shades of color.
This is a bit difficult to follow, so let me jump ahead and give you the Ur-phenomenon which Goethe derived from these experiments and observations of his: "Light through dark yellow; dark through light blue." (From page 76). Again one can observe for oneself this Ur-phenomenon. Any cloudless day look up into the sky. We all know from photos of space that space is completely dark. The darkness of space is flowing through a light-filled space during the day and thus we see a blue sky. (Yes, I am aware of the abstract concepts with which physics explains the blueness of the sky.) At sunset, the sky will usually appear yellowish to deep red. What is happening at sunset? The light is flowing through air that has become dark far to the west of where we stand to observe the sun as it sets: light through dark yellow. There are no abstract concepts involved here that Goethe asks us to swallow whole, but a simple description of something we can each observe and verify for ourselves. Thus the blue fringes at the top of the circle in the diagram above corresponds to a place which dark (dimness) is flowing through light; the yellow fringes where light is flowing through dark (dimness).
Here Steiner gives us a brief summary of what we have seen in the prism experiment and we come to the inescapable conclusion that "colors arise where dark and light work together."
[page 54, 55] Thus by adhering to the plain facts and simply taking what is given, purely from what you see you have the possibility of understanding why yellowish colors on the one hand and bluish colors on the other make their appearance. At the same time you see that the material prism plays an essential part in the arising of the colors. For it is through the prism that it happens, namely that on the one hand the dimming is deflected in the same direction as the cone of light, while on the other hand, because the prism lets its darkness ray there too, this that rays on and the light that is deflected cut across each other. For that is how the deflection works down here. Downward, the darkness and the light are interacting in a different way than upward.
This treatment of color was very difficult for me to follow it was always like I was walking up a snowy hill and every two steps I took, I slid back a step or so. The pull of the kinematical way of thinking about phenomena kept me back-sliding. You may experience this, also. The problem is that this kinematical tug is not conscious for most of us, up until now. "We had to be carefully taught" as Oscar Hammerstein wrote for a song in South Pacific. And having been so taught how to think, it is difficult to think in another fashion, no matter how much more simpler it would be. It's a slippery slope. Steiner called it a "bitter pill" to take, using a medical metaphor, and spoke particularly to the teachers of small children who have a chance to teach children to observe the world in this simpler fashion, before they learn to add concepts upon concepts to form the massive abstract layer cake of what constitutes science, up until now.
[page 57] Now in the first place I really must ask you to swallow the bitter pill (I mean, those of you who found things difficult to understand). Your difficulty lies in the fact that you are always hankering after a phoronomical treatment of light and color. The strange education we are made to undergo instils this mental habit. Thinking of outer Nature, people will restrict themselves to thoughts of a more or less phoronomical character. They will restrict their thoughts to what is arithmetical, spatially formal, and kinematical. Called on to try and think in terms of qualities as you are here, you may well be saying to yourselves: Here we get stuck! You must attribute it to the unnatural direction pursued by Science in modern time. Moreover I speak especially to Waldorf-School and other teachers you will yourselves to some extent still have to take the same direction with your pupils. It will not be possible, all at once, to bring the really healthy ideas into a modern school. We must find ways of transition.
When I worked as a well-surveyor back in the 1960s, a geologist I knew had been flounder fishing at night using a headlight and a pronged gig. He had mistakenly gigged his foot instead of the flounder. His fellow geologists had created a gig with a bend in the shaft to account for the refraction of the water as a joke with a point: to remind him that light bends as it comes out of the water, or so I had been taught to think of the process. Here is the diagram of the refraction of light in water. If you follow the dotted line from the eye to the object underwater, you'll note that the object seems higher than the actual object. This experiment allows Steiner to demonstrate how the eye is an active organism, one which projects and receives information in interaction with the outside world.
This idea of projection by the eye is not new to me. I was brought to understand it when I was working on The Spizznet File, a novel about how dolphins communicate with each other and how humans would be able to communicate back and forth with dolphins. If the diagram above was the eye of an archer with her eye on the target and the deflection from actual path was caused by her eyeball being deflected (as happens when one pushes against one's eyeball), the arrow would miss the target, hitting only the upper apparent target. How does the eye get aligned with the real world? I pondered this question for a long time. Suddenly I remembered the story of the guy with the upside-down glasses. He wore them continuously and lived in a world that was upside down. After three weeks, the world flipped over to right side up even with his glasses on. He took off the glasses and the world went upside down again for a time before correcting itself to right side up again. Aha! The man was allowed to manipulate the world and through his manipulations, the brain gradually created an alignment with the real world so that wherever the eye looked, a beam projected out from the eye to the target would hit the target. The eye-brain together create a 3-D holographic image of the outside world and by manipulation of it, align the image with the outside world. I knew at that instant that the eye was an instrument of both input and output of visual information a receptor as well as a projector. As Steiner says on page 69, "We must be clear that the eye is an active organism."
We are all aware that we have living tissue and dead tissue that comprises our body. Our fingernails, toenails, and hair are examples of dead tissue tissue that was once living as it grew out from the skin but is no longer living and thus we may cut or trim these parts of our body for cosmetic purposes without pain. What is not so generally known is that parts of our eyes are living and parts are dead. Look at the diagram of the eye the aqueous humor and the lens are non-living parts, but as we go back behind the lens, we come to the vitreous humor and then retina which are both living parts of the eye. The farther we go back in the eye, the more alive do we find the components of the eye. In this next passage Steiner obliquely refers to Goethe's famous dictum that the eye is created for the light by the light. It was the presence of light that created the eye in the first place something that materialistic science has yet to comprehend, in fact, it holds that we only came to see light because the eye was developed by some random evolutionary process.
[page 71] In fact the nature of the outer light is here at work, bringing about that transformation whereby the aqueous humor and the lens originate. To this the living being then reacts from within, thrusting outward a more living, a more vital organ, namely the vitreous body. Notably in the eye, formations whose development is stimulated from without, and others stimulated from within, meet one another in a very striking way.
If this were actually so, we would expect to find some evidence that the eye is part non-living and part living, and Steiner directs us to recall a rather common experience: waking up in the morning.
[page 72, 73] During the day when you look at the objects around you in so far as you have healthy eyes they will appear to you more or less sharp and clear, or at least so that their sharpness of outline is fully adequate for orientation. But in the morning when you first awaken you sometimes see the outlines of surrounding objects very indistinctly, as if enveloped with a little halo. The rim of a circle for example will be indistinct and nebular when you have just awakened in the morning. What is it due to? It is due to there being two different kinds of things in our eye, namely the vitreous body and the lens. In origin, as we have seen, they are quite different. The lens is formed more from without, the vitreous body more from within. While the lens is rather unalive, the vitreous body is full of vitality. Now in the moment of awakening they are not yet adapted to one-another. The vitreous body still tries to picture the objects to us in the way it can; the lens in the way it can. We have to wait till they are well adapted to each other. You see again how deeply mobile everything organic is. The whole working of it depends on this. First the activity is differentiated into that of the lens and the vitreous body respectively. From what is thus differentiated the activity is thereupon composed and integrated; so then the one has to adapt itself to the other.
The earliest equation I learned in high school physics was v = s/t where s stands for distance traveled, t stands for time elapsed, and v stands for velocity. This is how I was carefully taught to understand the world through kinematical thinking. All three items, distance, time, and velocity were said to be real values or magnitudes. Not so, says Steiner.
[page 96] Of the three magnitudes velocity, space and time, velocity is the only one that has reality. What is really there in the world outside us is the velocity; the s and t we only get by splitting up the given totality, the v, into two abstract entities. We only arrive at these on the basis of the velocity, which is really there. This then, to some extent, is our procedure. We see a so-called "body" flowing through space with a certain velocity.
What he's saying is that space s and time t are mere abstractions we derived from velocity which is the only reality we can observe. What is the space and time if they're not real?
[page 97] The space and time are our own instruments. They are bound to us, that is the essential thing. Here once again you see the sharp dividing line between what is generally called "subjective" here, space and time and the "objective" thing here, the velocity.
No one ever explained that to me before. And it makes intimately good sense. Space and time exist inside of us. But this is not to be confused with any abstract Kantian idea of the type so overused by scientists, up until now.
[page 98] But that is not what I am saying. I say that in perceiving the reality outside us the velocity we make use of space and time for our perception. In effect, space and time are at once in us and outside us. The point is that we unite with space and time, while we do not unite with the velocity. The latter whizzes past us. This is quite different from the Kantian idea.
The next concept is mind-boggling something I've learned to expect regularly when I read Steiner's works. We swim in the light with our etheric body and come into a relationship with what light is doing (making fleeting colors, among other things) with our astral body. This is what I perceive that artists do: they come into a relationship with colors through their astral body and communicate that relationship to the world via their art.
[page 99] You will never understand what light is without going into these realities. We with our etheric body swim in the light (or, if you will, you may say, in the light-ether; the word does not matter in this connection). . . . In the most manifold ways, colors arise in and about the light; so also they arise, or they subsist, in the so-called bodies. We see the ghostly, spectral colors so to speak, those that arise and vanish within the light itself. For if I only cast a spectrum here it is indeed like seeing specters; it hovers, fleeting, in space. Such colors therefore we behold, in and about the light.
In the light, I said just now, we swim with our etheric body. How then do we relate ourselves to the fleeting colors? We are in them with our astral body; it is none other than this. We are united with the colors with our astral body. You have no alternative, my dear Friends but to realise that when and wheresoever you see colors, with your astrality you are united with them. If you would reach any genuine knowledge you have no alternative, but must say to yourselves: The light remains invisible to us; we swim in it. Here it is as with space and time; we ought not to call them objective, for we ourselves are swimming in them. So too we should regard the light as an element common to us and to the things outside us; whilst in the colors we have to recognize something that can only make its appearance inasmuch as we through our astral body come into relation to what the light is doing there.
Go back to the experiment with the prism it is not just the circle of light that is deflected upward, but the dark surrounding the circle is deflected also. Another mind-boggling thing for the carefully educated, even though it is immediately obvious that it is so. We found that the colors appeared on the screen because of the dimmed light [dark] interacted with the light. We found that this flew in the face of Newton's claim that colors are somehow stored in the light. As a physicist, I was carefully trained to think of dark as the absence of light; I never once thought of the dark as being shifted upward by the prism as a thing in itself, up until now.
[page 106, 107] But now, what is this "dark"? You must take the dark seriously, take it as something real. (The errors that have crept into modern Physics since about the 16th century were only able to creep in because these things were not observed spiritually at the same time. Only the semblance, as appearing to the outer senses, was taken note of; then, to explain this outer semblance, all kinds of theoretical inventions were added to it). You certainly will not deny that when you look at light the light is sometimes more and sometimes less intense. There can be stronger light and less strong. The point is now to understand: How is this light, which may be stronger or weaker related to darkness? The ordinary physicist of today thinks there is stronger light and less strong; he will admit every degree of intensity of light, but he will only admit one darkness darkness which is simply there when there is no light. There is, as it were, only one way of being black. Yet as untrue as it would be to say that there is only one kind of lightness, just as untrue is it to say that there is only one kind of darkness.
If we relate light to an asset and dark to a debt, we can understand that we distinguish between degrees of property as well as degrees of debt. Man A can own more property than Man B and Woman A can be deeper in debt than Woman B. To say that there can be distinctions in the amount of property owned, but no distinctions of the amount of debt owed would be folly. Steiner's point is that light and dark are related to each other in the real world exactly as assets and debt are in the economic world.
[page 107, 108] When a space is filled with light it is always filled with light of a certain intensity; so likewise, when a space is filled with darkness, it is filled with darkness of a certain intensity. We must proceed from the notion of a merely abstract space to the kind of space that is not abstract but is in some specific way positively filled with light or negatively filled with darkness. Thus we may be confronting a space that is filled with light and we shall call it "qualitatively positive". Or we may be confronting a space that is filled with darkness and we shall judge it "qualitatively negative" with respect to the realm of light. Moreover both to the one and to the other we shall be able to ascribe a certain degree of intensity, a certain strength. Now we may ask: How does the positive filling of space differ for our perception from the negative? As to the positive, we need only remember what it is like when we awaken from sleep and are surrounded by light, how we unite our subjective experience with the light that floods and surges all around us. We need only compare this sensation with what we feel when surrounded by darkness, and we shall find I beg you to take note of this very precisely we shall find that for pure feeling and sensation there is an essential difference between being given up to a light-filled space and to a darkness-filled space. We must approach these things with the help of some comparison. Truly, we may compare the feeling we have, when given up to a light-filled space, with a kind of in-drawing of the light. It is as though our soul, our inner being, were to be sucking the light in. We feel a kind of enrichment when in a light-filled space. We draw the light into ourselves. How is it then with darkness? We have precisely the opposite feeling. We feel the darkness sucking at us. It sucks us out, we have to give away, we have to give something of ourselves to the darkness. Thus we may say: the effect of light upon us is to communicate, to give; whilst the effect of darkness is to withdraw, to suck at us and take away. So too must we distinguish between the lighter and the darker colors. The light ones have a quality of coming towards us and imparting something to us; the dark colors on the other hand have a quality of drawing on us, sucking at us, making us give of ourselves. So at long last we are led to say: Something in our outer world communicates itself to us when we are under the influence of light; something is taken from us, we are somehow sucked out, when under the influence of darkness.
Light gives something to us and darkness draws something away. I am reminded of the closing of the movie "Ghost" during which a couple of the bad guys die and immediately dark coalesces from the night and sucks the bad guys away. Shortly afterward, the good guy is given over to the light. The impact of all these revelations by Rudolf Steiner is to usher us into a world which fulfills the promise in the Prefatory Notes of this book, "Even into the laws of Chemistry and Physics the Christ will be found."
Ready for another mind-boggling idea? We humans are filled with warmth. Just as physicists attribute light as being filled with color, they tell us that our bodies are warm as a result of physical and chemical processes that occur within us and make no notice of the difference between how we "feel ourselves within the warmth-condition of our environment and the way we feel ourselves within the light-condition of our environment."
[page 110] Physics, since the 16th century, has quite lost hold of this difference. The open-mindedness to distinguish how we join with our environment in the experience of light upon the one hand and warmth upon the other has been completely lost; nay, the deliberate tendency has been, somehow to blur and wipe away such differences as these. Suppose however that you face the difference, quite obviously given in point of fact, between the way we experience and share in the conditions of our environment as regards warmth and light respectively. Then in the last resort you will be bound to recognize that the distinction is: we share in the warmth-conditions of our environment with our physical body and in the light-conditions, as we said just now, with our etheric body.
But physics has confused or ignored the difference between what we experience with our etheric body and what we experience with our physical body, up until now.
Next Steiner takes up gravity the force existing between two bodies proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Note the metaphysical nature of this "force" called gravity. It is an abstract concept and Newton was soundly criticized for postulating it in his time. Since then, we've accepted it as a given, as if the force of gravity were a fact of life anyone can confirm. But it isn't confirmable. One can confirm that an object falls to the ground when released in the air. One can observe the increase of its velocity by 32 feet per every second that it falls, but nowhere can one find the force. It exists in our minds only, not in the world. He gives us a metaphor to demonstrate how silly the idea of the force is. If I move my hand towards my head, do I have to say that there is a force pulling my hand and my head together? One of the things that allows us to identify an abstract concept like "force of gravity" is the possibility of equally valid explanations for the observed phenomena. He offers such an alternate explanation:
[page 111] Suppose for example you have two heavenly bodies. You may then say: These two heavenly bodies attract one another, send some mysterious force out into space and so attract each other. But you need not say this. You can also say: "Here is the one body, here is the other, and here are a lot of other, tiny bodies particles of ether, it may be all around and in between the two heavenly bodies. The tiny particles are bombarding the two big ones bombarding here, there and on all sides; the ones between, as they fly hither and thither, bombard them too. Now the total area of attack will be bigger outside than in between. In the resultant therefore, there will be less bombardment inside than outside; hence the two bodies will approach each other. They are, in fact, driven towards each other by the difference between the number of impacts they receive in the space between them and outside them."
One must understand that Rudolf Steiner is a scientist and has the utmost respect for science's achievements, even the most materialistic of the sciences. What he explains for us here are the salient shortcomings which lock science into solely materialistic aspects, and which result in sciences utter disregard for the spiritual aspects of the world. Our hand and our head are not two objects for which we can postulate some abstract force which causes a mutual attraction between them. Our hand and our head are parts of a unified whole, of a human being, and they both receive directions from the whole as to how and when to move. It is not the equations of Newton that allow us to calculate motions of the planets that Steiner disparages, but rather the prevailing idea of scientists that our Solar System consists of dead rocks held together by some abstract force called gravity. Only when we understand this distinction are we ready to see the bigger picture.
[page 113, 114] The implications of this, my dear Friends, are far-reaching. Namely, for every phenomenon, we must examine to what extent it is a reality in, itself, or a mere section of some larger whole. If you consider Sun and Moon, or Sun and Earth, each by itself, you may of course invent and add to them a force of gravity, just as you might invent a force of gravity by means of which my forehead would attract my right hand. But in considering Sun and Earth and Moon thus separately, the things you have in mind are not totalities; they are but parts and members of the whole planetary system.
This then is the essential thing; observe to what extent a thing is whole, or but a section of a whole. How many errors arise by considering to be a whole what is in fact only a partial phenomenon within a larger whole! By thus considering only the partial phenomena and then inventing energies to add to these, our scientists have saved themselves the need of contemplating the inherent life of the planetary system. The tendency has been, first to regard as wholes those things in Nature which are only parts, and by mere theories then to construe the effects which arise in fact between them, This therefore, to sum up, is the essential point: For all that meets us in Nature we have to ask: What is the whole to which this thing belongs? Or is it in itself a whole? Even then, in the last resort, we shall find that things are wholes only in certain respects. Even the crystal cube of rock-salt is a totality only in some respect; it too cannot exist save at certain temperatures and under other requisite conditions. Given some other temperature, it could no longer be. Our need is therefore to give up looking at Nature in the fragmentary way which is so prevalent in our time.
If life has come to seem more and more fragmented in our time, this is one of the reasons why we have divided living wholes into fragments and applied partial solutions to fragments and in the process fouled up the whole. Pollution is but one salient aspect of this deleterious fragmentary process there are many more. Examples abound today of scientists analyzing the Earth in a fragmentary manner: global warming, acid rain, holes in the ozone layer, to name only a few. There is no data but contemporary data on these phenomena, so projections for the progress of these phenomena are merely guesses but they are offered as scientific data on which to base economic decisions. On the other hand, if you look at the fields that Steiner innovated, youll find that a new process, one of treating the whole as a whole, pervades them. Biodynamic farming was his answer to the use of chemical fertilizers that only take care of only one fragment of the entire needs of plant systems. With Biodynamic farming in place of chemical fertilization, we would have no river pollution from excess phosphorus run-off, and people would be eating healthier and more nutritious foods, among other things. What does Biodynamic farming do? It focuses on the inherent life in materials used to fertilize plants and provides more life to sustain healthy growth. On a larger scale, scientists must begin to look at our planetary system as a whole and to see its inherent life. Rightly understood, we are a robust people living on a robust and living planet.
[page 114] This then is the essential thing; observe to what extent a thing is whole, or but a section of a whole. How many errors arise by considering to be a whole what is in fact only a partial phenomenon within a larger whole! By thus considering only the partial phenomena and then inventing energies to add to these, our scientists have saved themselves the need of contemplating the inherent life of the planetary system.
Scientists beginning with Francis Bacon in the 16th Century began to hold a mirror up to Nature, look into the mirror, and say, "See, Nature is all a reflection." They saw Nature as a reflection in their own minds and began to divide up their reflections into fragments and operate on the pieces as if they were separate from the whole. This worked well for machines and led to the Industrial Revolution. The machines spawned by this approach were part of the living planet and the planet had to endure the excesses produced by the machines.
[page 114, 115] Indeed it was only by looking at Nature in this fragmentary way that Science since the 16th century conceived this strange idea of universal, inorganic, lifeless Nature. There is indeed no such thing, just as in this sense there is no such thing as your bony system without your blood. Just as your bony system could only come into being by, as it were, crystallizing out of your living organism as a whole, so too this so-called inorganic Nature cannot exist without the whole of Nature soul and Spirit-Nature that underlies it. Lifeless Nature is the bony system, abstracted from Nature as a whole. It is impossible to study it alone, as they began doing ever since the 16th century and as is done in Newtonian Physics to this day.
When someone orders a drink neat, we know that they're saying, "I want it undiluted and pure. No ice or anything else added to it." That's how physicists like their Nature: neat. No messy fringes or taints of life mucking about. What they call neat is a narrow study of the bony structure of lifeless nature. It is their metier. Our modern technology consists of machines made from this bony structure of lifeless Nature. That is good, insofar as it goes, but with the success of their lifeless machines physicists have acquired a hubris which encourages them to attempt to explain the entire living Cosmos based on their study of lifeless Nature on Earth. The real Big Bang will come when this lifeless study of Nature blows up in their faces. Rightly understood, scientists who die without uncovering the living Spirit in the Cosmos will become the morons of tomorrow.
[page 115] It was the trend of Newtonian Physics to make as neat as possible an extract of this so-called inorganic Nature, treating it then as something self-contained. This "inorganic Nature" only exists however in the machines which we ourselves piece together from the parts of Nature. And here we come to something radically different. What we are wont to call "inorganic" in Nature herself, is placed in the totality of Nature in quite another way. The only really inorganic things are our machines, and even these are only so insofar as they are pieced together from sundry forces of Nature by ourselves. Only the "put-togetherness" of them is inorganic. Whatever else we may call inorganic only exists by abstraction. From this abstraction however present-day Physics has arisen. This Physics is an outcome of abstraction; it thinks that what it has abstracted is the real thing, and on this assumption sets out to explain whatever comes within its purview.
When I do crossword puzzles I use ink and if my first guess at a word is wrong, it is obvious because I have to write over the previous word. This happens whenever I discover that some word crossing it requires a different word. This has happened over and over again to physicists in the case of light. They began with a wave phenomenon similar to sound. Then they discovered light had a corpuscular nature. Then they moved to transverse waves in an ether. Then they found there was no such ether as they postulated. Like a mouse running a maze, they keep back-tracking trying to find the cheese that exists only in their abstract mental images. In 2014 the search yet goes on and on and on.
[page 118, 119] Now think a moment what has happened. The scientists had been assuming that they knew what underlies the phenomena of light and color: namely, undulations in the elastic ether. Now that they learned of the interaction between light and electricity, they feel obliged to regard, what is vibrating there, as electricity raying through space. Mark well what has taken place. First it is light and color which they desire to explain, and they attribute them to the vibrating ether. Ether-vibrations are moving through space. They think they know what light is in reality, it is vibrations in the elastic ether. Then comes the moment when they have to say: What we regarded as vibrations of the elastic ether are really vibrations of electro-magnetic force. They know still better now, what light is, than they did before. It is electro-magnetic streams of force. Only they do not know what these are! Such is the pretty round they have been. First a hypothesis is set up: something belonging to the sense-world is explained by an unknown supersensible, the vibrating ether. Then by and by they are driven to refer this supersensible once more to something of the sense-world, yet at the same time to confess that they do not know what the latter is. It is a highly interesting journey that has here been made; from the hypothetical search for an unknown to the explanation of this unknown by yet another unknown.
The physicist Kirchhoff was rather shattered and more or less admitted: It will be not at all easy for Physics if these more recent phenomena really oblige us no longer to believe in the undulating ether, And when Helmholtz got to know of the phenomenon, he said: Very well, we shall have to regard light as a kind of electro-magnetic radiation. It only means that we shall now have to explain these radiations themselves as vibrations in the elastic ether. In the last resort we shall get back to these, he said.
The essence of the matter is that a genuine phenomenon of undulation namely the vibrating of the air when we perceive sounds was transferred by pure analogy into a realm where in point of fact the whole assumption is hypothetical.
We are each as human beings creatures of warmth, air, and light. The light fills our eye, the air fills our lung, and the warmth fills our body. In the next passage the french word niveau refers to a level. Steiner uses it to refer to the level at which warmth exists in our body.
[page 131] Thus in effect we have three stages in man's relation to the outer world I will describe them as the stage of Light, the stage of Warmth, and that of Tone or Sound. There is however a remarkable fact in this connection. Look open-mindedly at your relation to the element of light your swimming in the element of light and you will have to admit: It is only with your etheric body that you can live in what is there going on in the outer world. Not so when you are living in the element of warmth. You really live in the warmth-element of your environment with your whole bodily nature. Having thus contemplated how you live in light and warmth, look farther down think how you live in the element of tone and sound and you will recognize: Here you yourself are functioning as an airy body. You, as a living organism of air, live in the manifoldly formed and differentiated outer air. It is no longer the ether; it is external physical matter, namely air. Our living in the warmth-element is then a very significant border-line. Our life in the element of warmth is for our consciousness a kind of midway level a niveau. You recognize it very clearly in the simple fact that for pure feeling and sensation you are scarcely able to distinguish outer warmth from inner warmth. Your life in the light-element however lies above this level:
We experience light and sound in subjective ways as they impinge upon us. If we deal with light and sound as if it lacked an inner life, it would be the same as if I were to deny that you the reader had any inner life as you read these words. This works better when Steiner says it to his live audience.
[page 141] If you deny to light and sound the inner life and being which you experience in a seemingly subjective way, it is precisely as it would be if, having you here before me, I looked on all that is before me as merely part of my subjective life, and thus denied to you the experience of inner life and being.
And yet this is exactly what happens when a physicist says he wants only to investigate the outwardly spatial processes of sound. This is the way I was taught to talk and to do research. I recognize the earlier physicist-me as the man Steiner is describing below. I have since come to recognize that what goes on inside of me is crucially important to my life as a living human being.
[page 141, 142] These are the subject-matter of my researches. These I abstract from the totality; what is qualitative is no concern of mine. A man who speaks like this is at least candid and straightforward, only he must not then go on to say that the one is "objective" and the other "subjective", or that the one is the "effect" of the other. What you experience in your soul, when I experience it with you it is not the effect upon me of the vibrations of your brain. To see through a thing like that is of untold significance; nothing could be of greater importance for the requirements of the new age, not only in science but in the life of humanity at large.
I have studied about how in a room full of pendulum clocks the clocks all begin to swing in the same direction over time, how an oyster in Long Island opens and closes in synchrony with the Moon being overhead, how women who live in the same household eventually have their menses come into synchrony, and how when one is listening to a live lecturer, the thoughts of the lecturer flow direct into one's mind independently of the words the lecturer is speaking. This last item was a personal discovery I made while talking to my wife of twenty-five years recently. It came on the heels of many years of the kind of the effects Steiner discusses below:
[page 142] Times without number you may have this experience. You are at table with another person and he says something you yourself have just been thinking. You were thinking it but did not say it; he now utters it. It is the sympathetic going-together of events (or complexes of events) in some way attuned to one-another, which is here making itself felt in a highly spiritual realm. We need to recognize the whole range of continuity from the simple resonance of a violin-string which one may still interpret crudely and unspiritually within the sequence of outer material events, to these parallel phenomena which appear so much more spiritual as when we experience one-another's thoughts.
At the time I made the discovery that we experience the thoughts of a live lecturer as they speak, I was taking a PhD level course in Education, and I wrote up the experience in my Final Paper which you can read at: http://www.doyletics.com/arj/tandlrvw.htm#live_lecture. I had, prior to that time and since, noted on many occasions that Del or I would begin to say something that the other had been thinking. "It all happens at the time." is one way I came to think about the process. We both think the same thought at the same instant, but one of us gets it out before the other. Connecting that process to a live lecturer is a natural extension of the process of noting that as human beings "we experience one-another's thoughts."
If you read Goethe or Steiner for very long you will find yourself considering how one thing in nature is a metamorphosis of another. This one is mind-boggling: the eye is a metamorphosis of the larynx! Certainly I have heard scientists compare the eye to the ear, since they are both apparently organs for the input of information, one visual and one auditory. Scientists are great at analogies, but neophytes, most of them, at metamorphosis. One would do well to remember that caveat.
[page 145] Consider what is left of the eye if I first take away the vitreous body and also the whole or at least part of what is here spread out the retina. If I were able to remove all this, what would be left would be the ciliary muscle, the lens and the external liquid the aqueous humor. What kind of organ would that represent? It would be an organ, my dear Friends, which I could never compare with the ear if I were thinking realistically, but only with the larynx. It is not a metamorphosis of the ear; it is a metamorphosis of the larynx. Only to touch upon the coarsest aspect: just as the muscles of the larynx take hold of the vocal chords, widening or narrowing the aperture between them, so do the ciliary muscles with the lens. The lens is inherently mobile and they take hold of it.
Okay, the eye can be compared to the ear, but only if we deal with the innermost parts of the eye, everything from the lens inward. From the lens outward, the eye has the structure and components analogous to the larynx it focuses the lens, opens and closes the iris, moves the eyeball around, all in synchronism with the outside world. Just as the larynx shapes sounds based on the input relayed it by the ear which picks up the speaking sounds through the eustachian tube. Just as the larynx is in a tight feedback loop with the sounds picked up by the ear, the outer portions of the eye are in a tight feedback loop with the visual information picked up by the inner portions of the eye.
[page 146] When I am seeing, the same thing happens in my eye as when I hear and speak at the same time.
In Lecture IX, Steiner goes into detail about electricity and its relationship to radioactivity, showing the relationship of beta-rays to electrons, etc. This is an important chapter for those of you not familiar with the phenomena of radiation, but it all comes down to this: electricity is connected with Will, just as mass is and our connection with electricity we are as unconscious of as we are of mass.
[page 166] When in the many complicated ways which we have only gone through in the barest outline in today's lecture when in these complicated ways we go down into the realm of electrical phenomena, we are in fact descending into the very same realm into which we must descend whenever we come up against the simple element of mass. What are we doing then when we study electricity and magnetism? We are then studying matter, in all reality. It is into matter itself that you are descending when you study electricity and magnetism.
In Lecture X, Steiner devotes some time to discussing cathode rays, but most of the chapter deals with the three aspects of abstract knowledge, arithmetic, geometry, and kinematics and how we apply them to what goes on in the outer world. His point is the difference between these aspects and all the other ideas we use to understand the world.
[page 176, 177] But if we now go further and begin applying to what goes on in the outer world the ideas of "scientific" arithmetic and algebra, geometry and kinematics, then we are doing far more and something radically different. For we have certainly not gained these ideas from the outer world. We are applying ideas which we have spun out of our own inner life. Where then do these ideas come from? That is the cardinal question. Where do they come from? The truth is, these ideas come not from our intelligence not from the intelligence which we apply when working up the ideas derived from sense-perception. They come in fact from the intelligent part of our Will. We make them with our Will-system with the volitional part of our soul.
The difference is indeed immense between all the other ideas in which we live as intelligent beings and on the other hand the geometrical, arithmetical and kinematical ideas.
To summarize what the difference is: all the other ideas we get from directly from our experience of the world; the geometrical, arithmetical and kinematical ideas "rise up from the unconscious part of us, from the Will-part which has its outer organ in the metabolism." Since we are unconscious of our Will and metabolism, we are essentially asleep in this aspect of our existence. I am amazed to discover the truth of my college education at the undergraduate level: I acquired a B. S. in "A Dream of Nature."
[page 178] All this elaboration of the outer world optical, acoustic and even thermal to some extent (the phenomena of warmth) by means of geometrical, arithmetical and kinematical thought-forms, is in point of fact a dreaming about Nature. Cool and sober as it may seem, it is a dream a dreaming while awake. Moreover, until we recognize it for what it is, we shall not know where we are in our Natural Science, so that our Science gives us reality. What people fondly believe to be the most exact of Sciences [Physics], is modern mankind's dream of Nature.
How can we avoid teaching our children only a "dream of nature"? There are Waldorf and Steiner Schools around the globe inspired by Rudolf Steiner's first school for the children of the workers at the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette factory. These schools have multiplied in recent years as parents came to understand the importance of their children being raised and educated to see wholes, living wholes, in the outside world, living humans rather than paper doll humans, a science based first upon their own senses, while they are still too young to think in geometrical, arithmetic, and kinematical abstracts. As adults of all ages we can learn to distinguish real data from abstract ideas, but our children need a solid grounding in the real before they are asked to introject our adult fantasies about the world from now on.
[page 183] But this at least we can do: we can refrain from bringing into our teaching too many untenable ideas ideas derived from the belief that the dream-picture which has been made of Nature represents actual reality. If you yourselves are imbued with the kind of scientific spirit with which these lectures if we may take them as a fair example have been pervaded, it will assuredly be of service to you in the whole way you speak with the children about natural phenomena.
To close this series of lectures, I will allow Steiner to exhort us in his inimitable fashion to nurture and treasure the qualitative element in our thinking and especially the thinking of our children:
[page 149] You see from this, dear Friends, the fundamentals of a true Physical Science, which we aspire to, are not so easy to conceive. It is by no means enough to entertain a few mathematical notions about wave-movements or oscillations. We must make greater demands on the qualitative element in human thinking. If such demands are unfulfilled, we only get once more the picture of the World which is so worshiped in the Physics of today, and which is to reality as is a tissue-paper effigy to a living man.
And so it is.
2.) ARJ2: Sufi Teachings: The Art of Being, Volume 8 by Hazrat Inayat Khan
When in the early 1980's, I first discovered Hazrat Inayat Khan, I fell in love with his teachings, and read all that I could locate of the twelve volume Mastery Series, a collection of his works. By 1987, I had located all but Volume VIII. During that year I read the last of the eleven volumes: Volume V, Spiritual Liberty. Recently I discovered a review in my 1987 journal of that volume and published it. Now, thanks to bibliofind.com on the Internet, I was able to locate my one missing volume, Volume VIII, Sufi Teachings, in India and ordered a copy. Here is my review of that book.
What is a Sufi? And why study Sufi teachings? The doctrine of the Sufi is "Know thyself and thou wilt know God." Thus Khan tells us, "Sufism is the study of the self." Okay, you may be thinking, but so what? Is it a religion, a weird sect, some Mohammedan cult? No, it's none of those, and what it is, well, that's hard to get a handle on. Here's how Hazrat Inayat Khan traces the history, condensed from his words in the Chapter "History of the Sufis":
[page 13, 14] Sufism has never had a first exponent or a historical origin. It existed from the beginning, because man has always possessed the light which is his second nature; and light in its higher aspect may be called the knowledge of God, the divine wisdom — in fact, Sufism. . . . At the time of Christ there were Sufis among the first of those who gave heed to him, and in the time of Mohammad the Sufis on Mount Zafah were the first to respond to his cry. One of the explanations of the term Sufi is this association with Mount Zafah. Mohammad was the first to open the way for them in Arabia . . . Sufism then spread to Persia. But whenever the Sufis expressed their free thought, they were attacked by the established religions, and so Sufism found its outlet in poetry and music.
The Sufi accepts the ideals of both Christ and Mohammed, understands the concepts of Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, is influenced by Zarathustra, by Abraham, by Moses, by King David's songs, by the Koran, by the Hindu Vedanta, and by the Bible.
[page 20] The Sufi sees the one truth in all forms. If anyone asks a Sufi to come and offer prayer in the Christian church, he is ready to do so. If some one would like to take him to the synagogue and ask him to pray as the Jews do, he would be quite willing; and among Muslims he will offer Nimaz as they do. In the Hindu temple he sees the same God, the living God, in the place of the idol; and the temple of Buddha inspires him instead of blinding him with idolatry. Yet his true mosque will be his heart in which the Beloved lives, who is worshipped by both Muslim and Kufr alike.
To sum it all up, the name "Sufi" comes from Sáf which means pure in Arabic. It is a name that was given to them by others not one that they gave themselves. Sufism, rightly understood, is truly a spiritual doctrine of freedom and light.
As Gregory Bateson might say, "That reminds me of a story." There was a great Sufi teacher known for his great works and teaching. Once he prescribed a vegetarian diet for a young man. His mother heard about this and was upset, so she went to talk to the teacher and there was chicken in front of him on the dinner table.
[page 47] So the mother said, "You are teaching your pupils to live on a vegetarian diet and you yourself are enjoying chicken!" Upon this the teacher uncovered the dish, and the chicken flew away; and he said, "The day when your son too can do this, he may eat chicken!"
A delightful Sufi story tells of Nasruddin who was made judge for a day. The prosecutor told the court all the crimes that he accused the defendant of committing, and as soon as he was finished his pleading for a conviction, Nasruddin looked at him earnestly and said, "I do believe you are right!" The Bailiff quickly reminded Nasruddin that the defense had not been heard from, so the defense attorney came forward to plead his case for his client's innocence. And a very eloquent plea it was! When he finished Nasruddin looked the defense attorney in the eye and said, "I do believe you are right!" The Bailiff said to Nasruddin, "But Judge, they can't both be right!" Nasruddin looked at the Bailiff and said, "I do believe you are right!" Somewhere along my readings of Hazrat Inayat Khan and Idries Shah's Sufi stories, I formulated Matherne's Rule #6 "All Meanings Are True" or AMAT. Notice how it applies in the following passage from this book as well:
[page 55] A spiritual soul is an old soul, according to Eastern terminology. Even a young person who is spiritually minded shows the nature of the aged; but at the same time spirituality is perpetual youth. A spiritual person admires all things , appreciate all things, enjoys all things to the full. Therefore, if one says the spiritual person is like an old person it is true; and if one says the spiritual person is like a young person that is true also.
Khan reminds us that Christ taught, "Resist not evil," and says that inharmony creates more inharmony. What causes inharmony? "Weakness. Physical weakness or mental weakness, but it is always weakness." (Page 59) This reminds me of some great advice I got once: "Don't take counsel from your fears. Do not make decisions while you are tired." The inharmony that stems from the weakness of fatigue will only lead to more inharmony. There are few decisions that cannot be safely postponed until one is refreshed in mind and body. One truly learns this lesson only when one looks within oneself for the source of the problem that seems to be arising from someone else. This is the process that psychologists name, "projection." Khan gives a good description of projection in the next passage:
[page 67] Our worst enemy is our self, our faults, our weaknesses, and our limitations. And our mind is a traitor. It hides our faults even from our own eyes, and points to other people as the reason for all our difficulties. Thus it constantly deludes us, keeping us unaware of the real enemy, and urging us against others, to fight them, making us think that they are our enemies.
Khan suggests that resignation and struggle are the two means by which one can reach one's spiritual goals. But a foolish resignation is not advisable. Here's another story:
[page 70] A mureed, who was learning the lesson of resignation from a murshid, was once walking in the middle of the road engrossed in the thought of resignation when a mad elephant came from the other directions. A wise man told him to get out of the way, but he would not because he was trying to resign himself to the elephant, until he was roughly pushed aside by it. They bought him to his murshid who asked him how he came to be injured. He answered that he was practising resignation. The murshid said, "But did nobody tell you to get out of the way?" "Yes," he answered, "but I would not listen." "But," said the murshid, "why did you not resign yourself to that person?" Often fine principles can be practised to great disadvantage.
"Resignation," Khan tells us, "has the nature of water: if anything obstructs it it takes another course; and yet it flows on, making its way so as to meet the ocean in the end." The book is filled with quotable thoughts. "Civilization itself is really only a developed sense of renunciation which manifests itself in our consideration for each other." "When virtues control a man's life they become idols; and it is not idols that we should worship; it is the ideal behind the idol." (Pages 78, 79)
Some years ago I'd noticed that most of the things that people want or seek are not worth having. A good example is people who want to win the lottery — the sudden impact of a huge amount of money will greatly upset and disturb the lives of those that want this the most. This is seen in the many cases in which the lottery money is soon all spent and the person is reduced to living once more exactly as before. I conjured up in my mind the idea of doing "Want Development" seminars in which people would learn to create wants that would bring harmony into their life and discard their current wants that are often the very source of their present disharmony. I cannot truthfully recall if my idea came before I encountered an idea similar to the below passage in an earlier book of Hazrat Inayat Khan's.
[page 82] The difference between people is according to the wishes they have. One wishes for the earth, the other wishes for heaven. The desire of the one takes him to the height of spiritual progress, and the desire of the other takes him to the depths of the earth. Man is great or small, wise or foolish, on the right road or on the wrong road, according to the desire he has.
"But," some one among you is saying, " isn't it okay to want things and to pray to God to receive them? Doesn't God listen to my prayers and want me to have what's good for me? And 224 million dollars, I just know, would be good for me!"
[page 85] The answer is that prayer is a reminder to God, prayer is a song before God, who enjoys it, who hears it, who is reminded about something. But how can our prayer, our insignificant voice, reach God? It reaches God through our ears. God is within us. If our soul can hear our voice God can hear it too. Prayer is the best way, because then the wish is put in a beautiful form which harmonizes with God, and which brings about a closer relationship between God and man.
Rightly understood prayer is a dance we do with God, a song we sing with God, and an understanding we come to with God about how best to bring harmony into our lives. And in that harmony there is room for a fervent wish, one that we keep in mind as part of our relationship with God. There is a caveat, however — as Khan puts it on page 85, "The one who thinks hard about his wish destroys it; it is just like overheating something or giving too much water to a plant. It is destroyed by the very thing which should help it. A wish must be cherished easily, with comfort, with hope, with confidence, and with patience." Anything else is out of harmony and we have ended the dance. Another saying that I encountered years ago sums it up beautifully: "Success is getting what we want and happiness is wanting what we get." Always and in every way we must experience happiness with what we have or we will lose what little we have.
"But how can I be happy when all these people are bringing misery into my world?" This question is the signal for a little ecological check of one's own thoughts. It is all too easy watching the network news programs every night to think evil thoughts about the criminals whose deeds are featured in detail in these programs.
[page 94] It is not that God gives us a certain punishment, but that by our wickedness, by our evil thoughts, we attract towards us the same wickedness, the same evil thoughts from others. The evil we do brings the same evil upon us from others.
Perhaps you have noticed, dear Reader, and wondered also why it is that so many heroes of fiction have a seemingly half-witted sidekick that accompanies them. An easy answer would be to say that one Pancho Sanchez is worth a dozen Iago's — that is, a faithful companion is worth much more than a treacherous one. Khan puts it simply, "A wise man would rather have a foolish servant than a half-wise one who will question his orders."
The seed is the plant in the microcosm and the flowering stage of the plant is the plant in the macrocosm. Yet the seed as microcosm lives within the flower as macrocosm. If we are to learn about the spirit that lives in the human being we each are, we must come to see the spirit as the seed in the microcosm of the human being and the human being as the seed in the flower of God in the macrocosm. (Inspired by "Man, the Seed of God, page 123.)
As hinted above, God grants our wishes, fulfills our desires when we are most in harmony with God. Here Khan gives us two times when God grants our wishes, and both of them are times when we are most in harmony with God.
[page 129] God grants us our wishes at two different times. One is when our heart is free from every thought and feeling and maintained in a most peaceful and tranquil condition. At that time every wish we may have is just like a seed sown in the right season. And if we have the patience and strength to wait and trust in the great power of God, whatever the wish may be it will certainly be granted. The other time is when we are satisfied, when we are very happy. Whatever wish we have during that period will be granted, just as the rain coming from above at the proper time will bring with it fruit and flowers.
Matherne's Rule #25 asks "What is the power of an unanswered question?" Here's Hazrat Inayat Khan's take on the power of unanswered questions:
[page 130] There is a stage in the evolution of a man's life when every question is answered by the life around him. He may have a living being before him, or be surrounded by nature; he may be awake or asleep, but the answer to his question comes as an echo of the question itself. Just as certain things become an accommodation for the air, turning it into a sound, so everything becomes an accommodation for each thought of the sage, helping it to resound; and in this resonance there is an answer. In point of fact the answer is contained in the question itself. A question has no existence without an answer. It is man's limited vision that makes him see only the question without the answer.
Thus one of the powers of an unanswered question comes from the holding of a question — not accepting the easy answer — until the true answer comes to us from a vision that is greater than our own.
In a recent review of The Theosophy of the Rosicrucian by Rudolf Steiner, I wrote the following: "In another synchronicity of concepts, Jung said that in every male was a female spirit he called the anima and in every female, a male spirit he called the animus. Compare that with the following passage from Steiner: [from page 23] 'I tell you that the etheric body in the male is female and in the female, male. Without this knowledge much will remain incomprehensible in practical life.'" Now compare Hazrat Inayat Khan's statement of the principle underlying the anima and animus:
[page 130] While all things have their opposites, it is also true that in each the spirit of the opposite exists. In man the quality of woman exists; in woman the spirit of man. In the sun the form of the moon exists, in the moon the light of the sun. The closer one approaches reality, the nearer one comes to unity.
Note how anima, etheric body, and quality are three different terms or maps used to describe one territory. Also note that a quality can have an objective reality in the spiritual world. Now read the rest of the passage as he ties this back together with the unanswered question.
[page 130] The evidence of this realization is that no sooner has a question arisen in the heart, than the answer comes as its echo either within or without. If we look in front of ourselves, the answer is before us; if we look behind the answer is behind; if we look up the answer awaits us in the sky; if we look down the answer is engraved on the earth; and if we close our eyes we will find the answer within us. It is like climbing a mountain, a mountain whose name is Why? When we have climbed it, then we are face to face with our ideal. It is not study which brings us to this realization; it is reached by rising above all that hinders our faith in truth.
In the center of our eye is a place where all the light signals are conducted to our brain via the optic nerve. In this vortex of all the signals from the distant areas of the retina, no light signals are able to be transmitted, and thus there is a blind spot in each of our eyes. But it is because of this blind spot that we are able to see at all. Khan quotes Nanak as saying, "The grain that takes refuge near the centre of the grinding mill is saved." When we keep close to the center of our grinding mill, we are close to God, and we are in the blind spot through which we can see forever."Aren't we being foolish if we do not keep constantly in our thoughts the things that can go wrong, the past failings that we must suffer from because of our karmic destiny? How are we to think of destiny and free will?"
[page 142] The best way of believing in destiny is to think that all the disagreeable things we have gone through are part of destiny and belong to the past; to think that we are freed from it. And the best way of looking at free will is to keep in mind that all that is to come, all that is before us, is the outcome of free will. To keep before us as a concentration that nothing wrong will touch us, that all this good for us lies before us.
If you are always looking for answers in the complex, then simple answers will forever elude you. One can see this in medical journals — the new advance is a new drug, a new medical instrument, or a new gene which will block harmful viruses from entering the cell walls. All very complicated, all very expensive, and all hailed as the savior of humankind when they are announced.
[page 149] Man is seeking for phenomena; he wants miracles, communication with ghosts or spirits, he is looking for something complex; and yet the simplest thing and the most valuable thing in life is to find one's true self.
This reminds me of what Rudolf Steiner said about the spiritualists that were prominent at the turn of the 20th Century. They claimed to prove the existence of the spiritual world by communicating with spirits by table-tapping and other materialistic phenomena. The following quotation is from Steiner's book, Inner Impulses of Evolution [See ARJ, Volume 1, page 281 for review.]:
[page 73] One gets nowhere if one speaks in general terms of some sort of connection between souls that is distinguishable by the senses. The solution is to be found by thinking of individual threads or streams between all the different souls. We are actually surrounded by a spiritual world just as we are by a physical one.
A century later and one might say that we are still getting nowhere fast — the tsunami of materialistic science has swept away the few remaining vestiges of the knowledge of spiritual connection directly between souls.atum
In the second half of the 20th Century we heard our popular music change from swing music to rock&roll to rap and zydeco. Here's how Hazrat Inayat Khan describes these three types of music:
[page 158] Intense rhythm produces the devilish quality; moderate rhythm shows the animal quality; an even rhythm shows the human quality. The form of this rhythm may be described thus: that the human quality is mobile, the animal quality is uneven, and the devilish quality is zigzag.
One of the objections many modern people have to reincarnation is the idea that they might come back as a dog or a monkey. This idea is a misunderstanding due to the taking of a metaphor literally. When a Hindu told someone that they would come back as a dog or a monkey, they simply meant that if they didn't straighten up their present life, that in their next life their friends would perceive them as having those specific qualities of a dog or monkey. (Adapted from page 177.)
Where I live mosquitos are a way of life, present in all seasons of the year, both outside and inside our homes. Khan tells us that someone asked the Prophet why mosquitos were created and he said, "That you might not sleep all night, but might devote some hours of the night to your prayers." As one progresses in life one learns that everything that happens to one becomes a source of good, rightly understood.
We may begin life as a machine, but if we progress, we become the engineer of the machine, able to understand its workings and remove former constraints from the machine to allow it to worker better and smoother with fewer problems. One of the constraints that it is possible to remove is that of our karma.
[page 165] Man starts his life as a mechanism, a machine, but he can develop to the stage where he is an engineer. The restriction of Karma is only for the machine. . . . The law of Karma is different for each individual. A thing can be a sin for one person and a virtue for another; it can be right for the one and wrong for the other.
Here we come upon an escape clause to the process of resignation to our karma, a caveat that everyone should keep in mind, as it is so easy to fall into the kind of thinking that Khan warns us of the following example.
[page 165, 166] I have heard a person say, 'I have been ill for so many years, but I have been resigned to it. I bear it easily because it is my Karma, I am paying back." By that he may prolong the paying, which was intended perhaps for ten years, for the rest of his life.
What Khan suggests one do is to say, "The past has brought the present, but out of this present I will make the future." Life is an improvisation and at any moment in the music of life we have the ability to introduce a new theme. One technique I recommend to people to assist in this process is the limitation eraser. I suggest that any time they hear themselves stating a limitation that they add the phrase ", up until now" at the end of their statement. The comma is an essential part of the limitation eraser. It acts as a caesura, a pause or break in the music that allows a new theme to begin. During that pause, one should take a deep breath. Used correctly the limitation eraser will open up new possibilities where previously there seemed none. Here's an example of how to use the limitation eraser by saying the following two sentences: I have never used the limitation eraser,<breathe . . . > up until now. I will apply it whenever appropriate from now on. See Matherne's Rule #9.
As we progress in life from machine to engineer of the machine, we often find ourselves at cross purposes. What we want to do now, the machine does know how to do or want to do. The machine represents our little ego self, the materialistic portion of our inner self, and the engineer represents the big Ego, the spiritual portion of our inner self, a portion I sometimes refer to as Soul Captain. He is present on the bridge of the ship that I am on, guiding the ship through the waters according to a chart that I don't have access to — I only get to see the scenery that passes the side of the ship and to visit the ports of call that the Soul Captain chooses for me to have an opportunity to visit. If I choose I can stay aboard during certain ports, but darn if we don't keep visiting that same port over and over until finally I go ashore and learn what lessons await me there. Here's how Khan describes this conflict between the ego and Ego:
[page 187] And this constant conflict between his real, spiritual self [Ego] and this self which hinders his spiritual progress [ego], is pictured in the form of a cross. This cross he carries during his progress. It is the ugly passions, the love of comforts, and the satisfaction in anger and bitterness that he has to fight first; and when he has conquered these the next trouble he has to meet is that still more subtle enemy of himself in his mind; the sensitiveness to what others say, to the opinion of others about himself. . . . This is the crucifixion of that part of a man's being which he has created in himself and which is not his real self, although on the way it always appears that he has crucified his own self.
Khan points out that when Christ said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," He was referring directly to being poor in this "self-created spirit" - that is, the little self or ego. Thus, it would be better understood today if we were to say it this way, "Blessed be the one who is empty of ego." To be empty in this way is to become like a reed flute so that the beautiful music of God can resonate and flow through one's body.
[page 190] Rumi has given a beautiful picture of this. He tells why the melody of the reed flute makes such an appeal to our hearts. It is, he says, because first it is cut away from its original stem, and then holes have been made in its heart so that the heart has been broken, and it begins to cry.
In the next passage, Khan shares an insight mirrors that of Rudolf Steiner with his Three-fold Society and Andrew Galambos with his Natural Republic:
[page 200] The best way to understand civilization is the spiritual way. Once a person understands spiritual morality, he does not need to learn man-made morality; it will come by itself. . . . the spiritual life teaches man what is best in conventionality; and when a civilization comes to be built on a spiritual basis, which is bound to happen one day, the conventionality of the world will become genuine and worth having.
In the next passage Khan offers an insight into a phenomena that seems to have gotten more prevalent in recent years with health food fads, herbal supplements, sugar-busters diets, and groups of people opposed to every advance one can imagine — they are opposed to irradiation of meat to preserve it, opposed to bioengineering to improve the disease-resistance and yield of crops, and so on.
[page 249, 250] People say, "I do not like to touch vinegar, it harms my health; I cannot bear to eat cream, I cannot digest it; I cannot stand sugar in my tea, I do not like it." For them these things are poison. By saying such things a person makes certain substances foreign, exclusive, to his nature; and he thereby subjects himself to them. There comes a time when they rule him, when he is in their power.
People are always looking for complicated answers while ignoring the simple answers. To such folk, Khan says they must be given instructions like the following if they ask how to reach spiritual attainment, "Very well; for ten years so around the temple, walk around it a hundred times every evening. And go to the Ganges. Then you will get inspiration." The current fad for walking labyrinths may have stemmed from just such an instruction given to one person and it caught on, like a New Age equivalent of jogging.
Khan warns those who become disappointed in human nature and allow their heart to become cold as follows:
[page 272] Somebody once said to me, "I have lost my friend, and since then I have lost sympathy for human nature." And I said, "Your first loss was not so great, but I pity you for your second loss. It was then that you should have kept your sympathy."
This story gave an example of a person whose heart was sorely out of tune. Khan stresses the salubrious effect of tuning the heart in the following anecdote:
[page 275] Once a lady said to me, "I have had bad luck this week. I lose or break many things; everything tears and gets destroyed." I said, "There is something wrong with your self. You yourself are out of tune; especially this week something has upset your rhythm." And on thinking this over, she found out that it was so.
"Human nature is such that man sees himself last; especially if it comes to blame he never thinks of himself, he first blames the other," Khan says on page 277, and he would have done well to have added the limitation eraser like so, "When it comes to blame, he never thinks of himself, up until now."
The best expression of spirituality next to Hazrat Inayat Khan that I have found has been in Rudolf Steiner's works. Both have an intellectuality that is able to express spirituality in a way that is stripped of the obscure mysticism and obfuscatory occultism that masquerades as true spirituality.
[page 280] However much one studies psychology, theoretically or practically, one will not attain to spirituality. Spirituality does not belong to intellectuality. It has nothing to do with it. In connection with spirituality, intellectuality is only useful in so far as an intellectual person can better express spiritual inspiration.
In the end the Sufi realizes, in the words of Iqbal, that, "I wandered in the pursuit of my own self. I was the traveler, and I am the destination."
3.) ARJ2: Harmony of the Creative Word, GA#230, Essentials for the Healing of Civilization by Rudolf Steiner
Here is an inspirational scheme of the world as a living flux of spirit seeking incorporation into matter, and matter itself seeking to be spiritualized; here is a world picture which has as its genesis and goal the idea of the truly human being, whose volution has been carried spiritually by the creativity of cosmic forces since the very beginning.
— Ann Druitt in her 2001 Introduction
The human being is a microcosm of the cosmos in which we are embedded. The laws and processes found in the world around us are also found within us human beings. There is a harmony in what exists in us and what exists in the world around us. To tap into this knowledge we will have to delve into the secrets which lie in the world, and we will have to delve at the same time into the secrets which lie inside of us as living human beings. Steiner will be our guide into this world of laws and processes of the world and the human being.Part One: Man's Connection with the Cosmos, the Earth and the Animal World
[page 3] Today we'll examine the world and then the human being from certain points of view, and we may then discover how the microcosm of the human being relates to the macrocosm. . . . Let us begin [with] the creatures that are most obviously living in the air — the birds.
Birds are all head — this is the main principle for us to grasp. Steiner tells us that an eagle's feathers stream away from its body the way thoughts stream away from our human head. Given the relationship between feathers and thoughts, it is interesting that the first instrument of writing upon papyrus, parchment, and paper was a quill made from a large feather.
[page 7] When we progress from the physical to the astral level, something of a paradox arises: on the physical plane those powers cause feathers to develop; on the astral plane they give rise to thoughts. Feathers are given to the eagle; that is the physical aspect of the process in which thoughts are formed. The thoughts given to human beings are the astral aspect of the development of feathers. Such things are sometimes indicated in a wonderful way through the genius of the vernacular, of common sayings. If a feather is cut off at the top and the contents are extracted, the country people in some German-speaking regions call this the "soul". Some people will no doubt take this to be simply an outer term, but it is not. Anyone who understands these things will find that a feather holds something tremendous: it holds the secret of how thoughts are formed.
When we fill a feathered quill with ink, it allows us to pour out our soul onto a page in writing. In modern times the quill has been replaced by a Gel-filled Ballpoint Pen, which is my favorite handwriting tool with which I pour out my soul on paper. At this moment, I am using my PC keyboard to pour out my thoughts in pixels which can later be printed upon paper. The above quote from page 7 inspired me to pen this poem(0):
With Soul I Write . . .
With my quill,
I pour out my soul
in India Ink.
With my ballpoint pen,
I pour out my soul
in jellied ink.
With my keyboard,
I pour out my soul
in pixilated ink.
In the air, the birds remind us of our thoughts or thinking process. On the ground we see the very model of the carnivore, the lion, which has a short digestive tract because it eats only raw meat which puts very little load on its circulation compared to the cow or bull. The lion develops a balance between breathing and circulation. In the courageous lion's chest we see represented the epitome of the rhythmic system.
[page 8, 9] In lions, more than in any other animal, the inner rhythms of breathing and heartbeat are in inner balance and harmony. This is why lions — if we enter into what may be called their subjective life — have that particular way of devouring their food with unbridled voracity, literally gulping it down. They are simply glad to have got it down. They are ravenous for nourishment because it is part of their nature that hunger causes them much more pain than it causes other animals. They are greedy for nourishment but they are not bent on being fastidious gourmets! They are not at all interested in taste sensation, for they are animals that find their inner satisfaction in the even rhythms of their breathing and circulation. It is only when . . . they feel in themselves the result of their feeding, an inner balance between breathing and circulation, that lions are really in their element. They are wholly lion when they experience the deep inner satisfaction of the blood beating upwards and of the breath pulsing downwards. Lions are alive and in their element when these two wave movements come together.
If we look for the characteristics of the bird in the human being, we see the head; for the characteristics of the lion, we see the human chest. Lion-hearted means to have the breathing and circulation attuned in the human body as it is in the lion. If we look for the characteristics of the cow, however, we must look at the stomach, for entire cow seems to be designed for digestion. It not only has a long digestive tract, but it has multiple stomachs to extract nutrients from the plant stuffs it ingests while grazing. It devotes its life to digestion and anything which distracts it from digestion is unwelcome.
[page 10] I have frequently spoken of the pleasure to be gained from watching a herd of cattle, lying replete and satisfied in a meadow, and from observing the process of digestion which here again comes to expression in the position of the body, and in the expression of the eyes, in every movement. Make the opportunity to observe a cow lying in the meadow and its reaction when a noise comes from one direction or another. It is really marvelous to see how the animal raises its head, how in this lifting there lies the feeling that it is all heaviness, that it is not easy for a cow to lift its head, and there is something rather special going on. Seeing a cow in the meadow disturbed in this way, we cannot but say to ourselves: This cow is amazed at having to raise its head for anything but for grazing.
What does any of this have to do with the human being? From the above considerations of the animal kingdom's bird, lion, and cow, Steiner has drawn out for us the three human processes of thinking, feeling, and willing and shown their relationship to the bodily processes occuring in the head, breathing and circulation, and the metabolism.
[page 13] What we have learned so far can lead us to this. When the human head looks for what accords with its nature it must direct its gaze upwards to the bird kingdom. The human chest — the heartbeat, the breathing — must, if it desires to grasp itself as one of the secrets of nature, turn its gaze to such a thing as the nature of the lion. And man must try to understand his metabolic system from the constitution, from the organization, of the ox or cow. But in his head man has the vehicle for his thoughts, in the chest the vehicle for his feelings, and in his metabolic system the vehicle for the will.
The same astral nature of the bird that forms its plumage forms the cow's flesh, muscle, and bone, and only by understanding this can we come to understand the origin of the Hindu's reverence for the cow. The ancient Hindu saw the astral nature of the cow's body, revered it, and that veneration holds yet today among modern Hindus, even though few can explain why they treat the cow as sacred. (See also passage from page 25, 26 below.)
Next we study the butterfly by comparing its birth cycle to that of the bird. What happens in one phase, the egg, in the bird is separated into three phases in the butterfly. In the drawing below we see the three processes of egg, caterpillar, cocoon, and butterfly illustrated(1).
[page 16, 17] The caterpillar, sacrificing itself, casts itself into the sunlight, and weaves around itself the threads of the sunbeams, following the direction in which they go at any given moment. If you look at a silkworm cocoon you are looking at woven sunlight, but sunlight given physical form from the substance of the silk-spinning caterpillar itself. The result is an enclosed inner space, so that outer sunlight has in a sense been overcome. . . . The sun, which previously exerted its physical power, causing the caterpillar to spin its own cocoon, now exerts power on what is inward, and out of this inner nature creates the butterfly, which then emerges. Then the whole cycle begins again. Here you have spread out before you in sequence what is contracted in a bird's eggs.
Compare the whole process with what happens when a bird lays its eggs. Inside the bird itself, in a process that has undergone metamorphosis, a chalky eggshell develops around the egg.
The forces of the sunlight make use of the substance of the calcium carbonate to bring together in one process what is a whole sequence of egg, caterpillar and cocoon in the case of the butterfly. With processes that otherwise are separated into different stages thus brought together, the whole of the bird's embryonic development is different. In the bird, the first three stages are one whereas in the butterfly we have the separate, outwardly visible stages of egg, caterpillar and chrysalis/cocoon, with the butterfly finally emerging.
What are thoughts without memories? Thoughts and sensations are but momentary stimuli which arise at random, but they are of little use unless we can store and retrieve them from memory at will. Our momentary thoughts and sensations have an astral nature like the eagle's feathers, but memories require a tripartite process such as the life cycle of a butterfly. In our physical body a process like the egg occurs, in our etheric body a process like the caterpillar occurs, and in our astral body a process like the cocoon occurs. When we have an astral sensation arise in us, we push it down similar to how a butterfly lays its egg. It is as if the life in our etheric body weaves an astral cocoon around the thought, which later becomes available to us as a memory,a memory arising like a butterfly from its chrysalis or cocoon. I wrote once, without knowing this process, "Our dreams have wings and other things which smile like butterflies."
[page 18] Thus we look around us and feel to what an immense degree nature is related to us. We think and we see the world of thoughts in the flying birds. We remember, we have memories, and see the world of memory images that live in us in the fluttering butterflies shimmering in the sunlight. Yes, man is a microcosm, and contains within himself the secrets of the macrocosm. And it is indeed true that the things we perceive inwardly — our thoughts, feelings, will impulses and memory pictures — seen from the other side, outside in the macrocosm, can be found again in the realm of nature.
Steiner said about the below process,"Reality of this kind cannot be grasped by mere thoughts, for to them reality is a matter of indifference. " Thoughts depend only on logic, but logic can be used to prove anything. Compare the logic used by the hyena and the wolf in this amazing metaphor, a fable of the African tribe, the Felatas.
[page 18] Once upon a time a lion, a wolf and a hyena set out on a journey. They met an antelope. The antelope was torn to pieces by one of the animals. The three travelers were good friends, and now the question arose as to how they should divide the dismembered antelope between them. First the lion said to the hyena, "You divide it.
The hyena said, "We'll divide the antelope into three equal parts — one for the lion, one for the wolf, and one for myself." Then the lion fell upon the hyena and killed it. That was the end of the hyena. The antelope still had to be shared out. So the lion said to the wolf, "Look here, my dear wolf, we'll have to share it out differently now. You divide it. How would you share it out?"
Then the wolf said, "Yes, we must now apportion it differently; there can't be equal shares, like before. Since you have rid us of the hyena, you as the lion must of course have the first third; the second would have been yours in any case, as the hyena said, and the remaining third shall be yours because you are the wisest and bravest of all animals." That is how the wolf apportioned it.
Then said the lion, "Who taught you to divide in this way?" To which the wolf replied, "The hyena taught me."
"So the lion did not devour the wolf, but, according to the wolf's logic, took all three portions for himself," Steiner said of the fable. This is how it is with abstractions — especially logic — you can prove anything you want, but if you ignore the realities of life and the lessons it teaches you in the moment, your life could be in danger. "Use it right away" is an excellent motto for learning, and the wolf showed us the life-saving value of immediately applying his new-found learning from the hyena(2).
[page 20] We must be able to study the human being not merely by applying logic, but in a sense which can never be achieved unless intellectualism is taken onward into the artistic element in the world. If you succeed in bringing about the metamorphosis of intellectualism into artistic perception, and are able to develop this artistic approach into an instrument of perception, you will find in the outer macrocosm the phenomena that exist in the human being, though transformed there from how they manifest in the natural world. Then you will find that man is related to the macrocosm in a very true and real sense.
In the diagram above, Steiner has drawn the human being and its connection with each of the orbs in our solar system. From the top in violet, indigo, and light blue are Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. In white is the Sun and below it comes Mercury, Venus, and the Moon. Each has a relationship to the human body where the colored band contacts it.
In this next passage, Steiner talks about the outer planets from Sun to Saturn. He is talking as he draws the diagram above.
[page 22, 23] Let us draw this, so that we may actually see it, in a diagram: the Saturn sphere, the Jupiter sphere, the Mars sphere; we then show the transition to the sun sphere, giving us in the outermost part of our planetary system the interaction of sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.
And when we see the eagle circling in the air we do in fact utter a reality when we say: The forces that stream through the air from the sun in such a way that they are composed of the interaction of the sun with Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — are the forces that live in the whole configuration, in the essential nature of the eagle. But at the same time they live in the form that has arisen as the human head. And when we place man in the universe in accordance with his true reality — on earth he is only, so to speak, a miniature image of himself — we must place him in the eagle sphere as regards his head.
We must, therefore, think of the human being in regard to his head as belonging to the eagle sphere; this is the aspect of the human being that is connected with the forces in the upper sphere.
The Sun (white band) touches the human body where the heart and lungs are located, so we would expect the lion — and therefore the human rhythmical system — to be most affected by the Sun and the inner and outer planets.
[page 23, 24] The lion is the representative of the animals which are in the real sense sun animals, in which the sun unfolds its own special force. The lion prospers best when the planets above the sun and the planets below the sun(3) are in a constellation where they exert the least influence on the sun itself. Then those special characteristics appear which I described to you yesterday, namely, that the forces of the sun itself, penetrating the air, produce in the lion a breathing system of just such a kind that its rhythm is in perfect balance with the rhythm of the circulation, not in a numerical sense but as regards its dynamics. In the lion this balances itself out in a wonderfully beautiful way. The lion regulates its circulation through the breathing, and the circulation continually stimulates the stream of the breath. I told you that this can be seen even in the form, in the very shape of the lion's mouth. In this form the wonderful relationship between the rhythm of the blood and the rhythm of the breath is actually expressed. One can see this, too, in the remarkable gaze of the lion, resting in itself, and yet looking boldly outwards.
But what lives in the lion's gaze lives also in the organization of the human chest and heart, in the rhythmical organization which connects with the other elements of human nature — the metabolic system and the head system.
And if we picture unconstrained sun activity we must put the human being into the diagram in such a way that we place his heart and lungs in the region of this sun activity. It is here, in this sphere, that we have the lion nature in man.
This is not easy material to assimilate, especially if you, dear Reader, are encountering it for the first time. You may require the digestive system of the cow to manage it. Chew on it, regurgitate it, ruminate on it, and pass it through three or four stages of digestion in various stomachs before it has been assimilated. But note that just from what you have read so far in this review, you would expect that the inferior planets (Moon, Mercury, and Venus) would affect the human metabolic system, and the digestive or metabolic system of the cow. The forces of the Sun are mediated by those of the Moon, Mercury, and Venus and work upwards from the depths of the Earth upon which rests the cow during its process of digestion. Those same forces of the Sun can work upwards from the depths of the Earth to assist you in digesting this difficult reading material.
[page 24, 25] When we turn to the inner planets nearer the earth, the 'inferior' planets, we have first the Mercury sphere. This has to do in particular with the finer parts of the metabolic system or organism of man, the region where foodstuffs are transformed into lymph-like substance and then taken over into circulation of the blood. Progressing further, we come into the region of Venus activity. This is connected with the somewhat coarser parts of man's metabolic system, to that part of the human organism which works primarily from the stomach on the foodstuffs which have been consumed. We next come to the sphere of the moon. (I am drawing this in the sequence customary today in astronomy; I could also draw it differently.) There we enter the region which exerts influence on the metabolic processes, for these are connected with the moon.
How can we understand the Hindu's reverence for the cow if we do not understand the astrality which infuses the whole process of digestion of the cow?
[page 25, 26] The cow is the animal of digestion. It is, moreover, the animal which accomplishes digestion in such a way that there lies in its digestive processes the earthly reflection of something actually super-earthly; its whole digestive process is permeated with an astrality which reflects the entire cosmos in a wonderful, light-filled way. There is — as I said yesterday — a whole world in this astral organism of the cow, but everything is based on gravity, everything is so organized that the earth's gravity works there. You have only to consider that a cow is obliged to consume about an eighth of its weight in food each day. Man can be satisfied with a fortieth part and remain healthy. Thus the cow needs earth's gravity in order to fully meet the needs of its organism. This organism is designed for the gravity of matter. Every day the cow must metabolize an eighth of her weight. This binds the cow with its material substance to the earth; yet through its astrality it is at the same time an image of the heights, of the cosmos.
This is why, as I said yesterday, the cow is an object of so much veneration for those who follow the Hindu religion. The Hindu says to himself: The cow lives here on the earth; but through this fact it creates in physical matter, subject to gravity, an image of something super-earthly.
Steiner bids us to consider the calls of the eagle, the roar of the lion, and the cow. We know already the allurement that the call of the cow has for the Orient, especially the Hindu, but which countries heed the call of the eagle and the lion? If you think of America when you think of the eagle, you would be right. Some ancient wisdom must have inspired the Founding Fathers of America when they chose the eagle as the symbol of this land.
First, the Eagle and its call:
[page 26], 27] This is the stamp of our age, that it is the aim of the cosmic powers to bring about a threefold division of man, and that each form of these cosmic powers is always striving to suppress the others. The eagle strives to subjugate the lion and the cow and make them of no account, and in like manner with each of the other elements. In our present age something particularly alluring is working on the subconscious in man; alluring because in a certain sense there is also something beautiful about it. In his conscious life man today is unaware of this, but in his subconscious, three calls surge and sound through the world, seeking to tempt him with their allurement. And I must say that it is the secret of our present time that from the sphere of the eagle there sounds down to man what actually gives the eagle his eagle nature, what gives it its plumage, what hovers around it as astrality. It is the eagle nature itself which becomes audible for the subconscious of man. This is the alluring call:
Learn to know my nature!
I give you the power
To create a universe
In your own head.
Thus speaks the eagle. That is the call from above, which today wishes to impose one-sidedness on man.
Second, the call of the Lion, the roar of the King of Beasts, which fills us with the balance of breathing and circulation when we hear it, but which expresses its own one-sidedness to us.
[page 27] And there is a second alluring call. This is the call which comes to us from the middle region where the forces of the cosmos form the lion nature and where through the mingling of the sun and air they bring about equilibrium between the rhythms of breathing and circulation that constitutes the nature of the lion. What thus vibrates through the air, from the nature of the lion, what wills to make man's own rhythmic system one-sided, speaks alluringly to man's subconsciousness, saying:
Learn to know my nature!
I give you the power
To embody the universe
In the radiance of encircling air.
Third, the call of the cow or bull, with the deep rumbling tremor of its earthly digestive system. My fisherman brother David fished nearly every day, at all times during the day. He told me that, if the cows in the pasture he drove by to his fishing spots were standing the field, he knew the fish would be biting, but if they were mostly all lying down in the field, the fish would not be biting. He was observing how cows laid against the Earth to digest their food, and how in their digestion they matched the times when even the fishes are digesting instead of eating.
[page 28] It is truly the way I described to you yesterday, that when one sees a herd of cattle replete with grazing, sees them as they lie there in their own peculiar way, their very form revealing that they are given over to earth's gravity, all this is conditioned by the fact that this bodily form must daily metabolize an eighth of its own weight. And to this must be added that the depths of the earth, which under the influence of the sun, Mercury, Venus and the moon bring all this about in the digestive system of the cow — that these depths, as if with demonic rumbling power, resound through such a herd with the words:
Learn to know my nature!
I give you the power
To wrest from the universe
Measure, number and weight.
Thus speaks the cow. And it is the Orient which is especially exposed to the allurement of this call.
What would happen if Europe (the Center) fell prey to the allurements of the lion? Mechanization would begin to disappear from the Earth. I have noticed signs of this happening at the Goetheanum where one has to wait for 5 minutes for a simple slice of quiche to be warmed up in an electric heater because microwave ovens are forbidden. Whether the slice is heated from without by electric radiant heat or from within by moving the interior molecules seems to be a trivial matter to me as a physicist, but some phobia about the word "radiation" seems to have created a Luddite attitude towards microwave ovens which are an efficient and safe method of using non-ionizing radiation to heat food. This appears to be an example of the lion nature taking over.[page 31 Now turn your thoughts to what would happen if the Center fell prey to the allurements of what is spoken by the lion. . . . Mechanization would gradually disappear from the face of the earth. Civilization would not become mechanistic, but, with one-sided power, man would be given over to all that lives in wind and weather, in the cycle of the year.
Steiner gives us a modern version of the tale of the lion, wolf and hyena, in which the hyena withdraws, keeping its silence, and allows the lion and wolf to kill each other, after which the hyena can eat the decaying remains of the antelope, lion, and wolf.[page 35] The hyena is the image of what lies in the human intellect, the element in human nature which kills. It is the reverse side, the caricature of eagle civilization.
America is infused with the one-sided nature of the eagle, Europe with that of the lion, and the Orient with that of the cow. Steiner explains how any one of these one-sided approaches to civilization would end in a sad fashion. He gives us a modern version of the African fable above to illustrate his point, which is that we must oppose each of the one-sided approaches with a threefold approach of the human being. We must grasp "the call of the eagle from the heights, that of the lion from the surrounding world, that of the cow from the interior of the earth." (Page 37) Then we can learn the language of the stars from the cow, the language of the cycles of the Earth from the lion, and the language of the eagle which allows us to create a universe in our head.
Steiner tells us in Lecture 3 that our human head consists of physical substance and spiritual forces, while our limbs (arms and legs) conversely consist of spiritual substance and physical forces. At right is the diagram he was drawing on 21 October 1923 as he spoke the words below.
[page 40, 41] So that if we were to represent the human being in a diagram we would have to say: The lower man actually shows us a formation in spiritual substance, and the further towards the human head we go, the more the human being is made of physical substance. The head is essentially made of physical substance. But of the legs — grotesque through this may sound -- it must be said that essentially they are made of spiritual substance. So that as we approach the head we must draw the human being in such a way that we allow spiritual substance to change gradually into physical substance; physical substance is to be found particularly in the human head. Spiritual substance, on the other hand, is spread out in a particularly beautiful way just where — if I may put it so — man extends his legs and his arms into space. It is really as though the most important matter for arm and leg is precisely the fact that they are filled with spiritual substance, as if this is their essence. In the case of arm and leg, it is really as though the physical substance were only floating in spiritual substance, whereas the head presents a compact form composed of physical substance. In a form such as man possesses, however, we must differentiate not only the substance, but also the forces. And here again we must distinguish between spiritual forces and earthly, physical forces.
To help me remember this floating aspect of our legs mentioned in the passage above, I wrote this short poem:I run my life
with physical legs.
I live my life
on spiritual legs.
My legs of bone and flesh
my spiritual legs.
In another lecture series Steiner said that the brain is able to exert spiritual forces by dint of its floating in the cerebral fluid so that its weight in situ (and alive) is a small fraction of what it would weigh outside the skull.
[page 41] In the case of these forces, things are exactly the opposite. In the limbs and metabolism the substance is spiritual but the forces are physical, for instance the force of gravity in the legs. In the head the substance is physical but the forces active within it are spiritual. Spiritual forces play through the head; physical forces play through the spiritual substance of the limbs and metabolism. The human being can only be fully understood when we distinguish in him the upper region, his head and also the upper part of the chest, as actual physical substance worked through by spiritual forces, the lowest of which, one can say, are active in the breathing. And we must regard the lower part of man as a formation composed of spiritual substance within which physical forces are working. Only we must be clear as to how these things are interrelated in man, for the human being also projects his head nature into his whole organism so that the head, which is what it is because it is composed of physical substance workforces, also projects its entire nature into the lower part of the human being; and what man is because of his spiritual substance in which physical forces are at work, this, on the other hand, plays upwards into the upper part of the organism. In these activities in the human being there is mutual interaction. Man can in fact only be understood when he is regarded in this way, as composed of physical and spiritual substantiality and of physical and spiritual dynamic forces.
Imagine the human being dissected by the diaphragm into the upper part Head and the lower part Limbs. In the Head region, the substance is physical and the forces are spiritual. In the Limb region, the substance is spiritual and the forces are physical. If this balance gets skewed in one direction or the other, illness occurs.[page 41] This is something of great significance. For if we look away from external phenomena and enter into man's inner nature, it becomes clear to us that disturbance and irregularity ought not to enter into this distribution of substance and of forces in the human being.
The physical and the spiritual balance must be maintained or otherwise illness will result. For example, if physical substance,which is welcomed in the Head region, were to intrude into the Limb region, it would be most unwelcome. One example is the painful condition known as gout is due to the presence of physical substance in the spiritual limbs. It is caused by Head forces causing uric acid to precipitate in the fluids of the spiritual legs into a physical, crystalline form. This was pointed out by Steiner in another lecture series, and the example he gives in this lecture series is that of diabetes, during which sugar appears as physical substance in the metabolic or Limb system.
[page 42] If, for example, what should be pure substance, pure spiritual substance in man, is too strongly penetrated by physical matter, by physical substance — if, that is to say, physical substance which should in fact tend upwards towards the head makes itself too strongly felt in the metabolism so that head nature enters too powerfully into the metabolism, the human being becomes ill; certain quite definite types of illness then arise. And the task of healing consists in paralyzing and driving out this physical substance formation intruding into spiritual substantiality. On the other hand, if man's metabolic system, with its particular and special manner of being worked through by physical forces in spiritual substance, is sent up towards the head, then the head is, as it were, too strongly spiritualized, and excessive spiritualization of the head results. This also represents a condition of illness, and care must then be taken to send enough physical forces of nutrition to the head, and in a way which does not allow them to become spiritualized.
In another lecture series Steiner talked about how our head is formed from the limbs of our previous lifetime. We can see how the spiritual substance of the limbs is preserved to make this possible.
[page 43] Only by taking the spiritual substance of his limbs and metabolism through the gate of death can man undergo the transformations he needs to undergo. He would be unable to descend to future incarnations if he were to give back to the earth the spiritual substance which he owes to it. This he cannot do. He remains a debtor. And that is something which there is no means of bettering as long as the earth remains in its middle period. At the end of earth existence things will be otherwise.
We are "borrowers" from the Earth, a condition which world karma requires that we rectify when we reach the Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan stages of evolution of our cosmos.[page 45] Thus it is not only by going through the experiences of a single life that man fashions karma, but man creates karma — world karma, cosmic karma — just through the fact that he is an earthly human being, an inhabitant of the earth; and draws his substance from earth.
The eagle, lion, and cow are used as symbols connected to the evangelists John, Luke, and Mark. Matthew had as his symbol, the human being(4). The four evangelists form a whole in the cosmic scheme of things just as the three animals and the human being do.Part Two: The Inner Connection of World Phenomena and the Essential Nature of the World
[page 53, 54] You see, the three animals, eagle, lion, and ox or cow, were created out of a wonderful instinctive knowledge. Their connection with man is one we can sense and feel. For when he sees into the truth of these things, the human being should really admit: The eagle relieves me of the tasks that I myself cannot fulfil through my head; the cow relieves me of the tasks that I myself cannot fulfil through my metabolism and through my limbs; the lion relieves me of the tasks that I myself cannot fulfil through my rhythmical system. And thus I myself and the three animals are made into a whole in the great cosmic scheme of things.
Thus one lives one's way into cosmic relationships. Thus one feels the deep connections in the world and learns to know how wise are the powers which hold sway in the living world into which man is woven and which billow and surge around him.
You see, in this way we were able to interweave everything that we encountered when we sought to discover man's connection with the three animal forces which we have spoken about in recent weeks.
The three lectures in Part Two of this four-part book deal with "The Inner Connection of World Phenomena and the Essential Nature of the World." In Lecture 4 we learn about the butterfly, which corresponds in its metamorphosis to the plant. Its seed does not enter the Earth, but hangs in the air. When its caterpillar appears, it is like the leaf appearing on a plant. When the caterpillar enters its chrysalis stage, it resembles the calyx of a plant from the flower later developed. The butterfly when it unfolds its wings does so as a flower unfolds its petals. Bright colors appear and flutter in the breeze with the flower as with the butterfly. "Just as the butterfly lays its egg, so does the flower develop within itself the new seed for the future. So you see, we look up towards the butterfly and understand it to be the plant raised up into the air." (Page 67)
In this next passage he leads us through the process of a plant's life, comparing each step to the life process of a butterfly. The anabolic growing of the plant is stopped by the catabolic forces of Saturn which causes what had been destined to be leaves to become fragrant and colorful flowers. Similarly, the anabolic life of seed to caterpillar is stopped by the catabolic forces of Saturn which creates the beautiful butterfly.[page 67] When the seed became earthly, it was not the butterfly which developed; but when the seed became earthly and was entrusted to the earth — and not now to the sun — the plant root developed, the first thing to arise out of the embryo. And instead of the caterpillar emerging . . . under the influence of the forces which proceed from mars, the leaf arises, emerging in a rising spiral. The leaf is the caterpillar which has come under the influence of what is earthly.The milkweed, asclepias curassavica, also known as the butterfly plant, lives a life in synchrony with the monarch butterfly. The butterfly plants its seed on the milkweed, its caterpillar eats the leaves of the milkweed as it progresses its way to the top of the plant, stopping always short of the calyx and flower stalks at the top. The caterpillar spins itself into a dark chamber, its personal cromlech, and dies. Inside of the caterpillar, the butterfly grows, feeding from the nutrients stored for it, until finally the monarch butterfly emerges, forces its wings open, and takes flight. The monarch butterfly returns to the milkweed for its nourishment and lays its egg there to begin a new cycle of life.
In this next passage Steiner compares the importance of the chrysalis to the butterfly with the importance of the cromlechs of the ancient Druids.
[page 64] Then, as you know, the butterfly emerges from the cocoon, from the chrysalis — the butterfly which is borne on the light, and radiant with light. It leaves the dark chamber into which the light could only enter as it did into the cromlechs, in the way I describe to you in the case of the ancient Druid's cromlechs. There the sun comes under the influence of Saturn, and it is only in conjunction with Saturn that it can send its light into the air in such a way that the butterfly can shine in the radiance of its many and varied colors.
Steiner is referring to the lectures he gave in September 1923, a few weeks before this lecture. Below are two excerpts from my review of those lectures(5). First, from Lecture 1 in Stuttgart (Page 27) , where he discussed how the shadows of physical light rays contain their spiritual essence and how the Druids used this light to assist their production of food.
[page 27 of MSDP] But it is only the physical sunlight which cannot penetrate there; its activity penetrates, and the Druid, as gradually through this activity he came to be permeated by the secret forces of cosmic existence, entered into the secrets of the world. Thus, for instance, the actions of the sun on plants was revealed to him; he could see that a particular kind of plant-life flourishes at a particular time when the sun is active in a particular way.
In this second passage, from Lecture 4 in Dornach (page 73), he talks about the printing-press man. One can rightly understand this only if one understands that the Druids immediately recognized that anyone using signs (written words) was ill or diseased. Steiner said, "Yes, my dear friends, if we with all our present knowledge were transported into the Druid culture, we should all be sent to hospital and cured."
[page 73 of MSDP] The Druid priest looked at the mysteries of the Cosmos. He read there when corn, rye, and so forth were to be sown. These are only instances. The impulses for all that was done were read from the Cosmos. The greater impulses, which were needed, one may say, to complete the yearly calendar, were obtained from observation within the shadow of the Druid circle. So that in this age, when there was nothing that was derived from the human intellect, the Cosmos alone was there. And instead of the printing press, man had the cromlech in order to unravel from out of the Cosmos the mysteries it contained.
The cromlech was an enclosed stone structure through which no light entered from the physical Sun, but which permitted the Druids to experience the blaze of light from the spiritual Sun. A butterfly draws the light of the spiritual Sun into its darkened cocoon and these colors flutter into daylight with their dazzling arrays covering these flying plants of spiritual light.
[page 68] We can therefore contemplate two verses which give expression to a great secret of nature:
Behold the plant:
It is the butterfly
Fettered by the earth.
Behold the butterfly:
It is the plant
Freed by the cosmos.
But Steiner has more to say about the butterflies and birds. They have a spiritual nature which has an effect on this region of the cosmos. First of the butterflies:[page 71, 73] Actually a butterfly lays its eggs only where they do not become separated from sun activity, so that the butterfly does not entrust its egg to the earth, but only to the sun. Then the caterpillar emerges; it is under the influence of Mars activity, though naturally the sun influence always remains. The chrysalis develops under the influence of Jupiter activity. From it emerges the butterfly, whose iridescent colors reflect in the earth's environment the luminous sun power that the earth can potentially evolve in conjunction with the power of Saturn. . . .
Now, it is spiritualized matter that we find to the greatest degree in the butterfly. Because a butterfly always remains in the sphere of sun existence, it only takes to itself earthly matter — naturally I am still speaking figuratively — as though in the form of the finest dust. It also gets its nourishment from earthly substances that have been worked through by the sun. It unites with its own being only what is sun-imbued; and it takes from earthly substance only what is finest, and works on it until it is entirely spiritualized. When we look at a butterfly's wing we actually have before us earthly matter in its most spiritualized form. Through the fact that the physical substance of the butterfly's wing is imbued with color, it is the most spiritualized of all earthly substances.
The butterfly is the creature which, lives entirely in spiritualized earth matter. And the spiritual eye is able to perceive that in a certain way a butterfly despises the body which it carries between its colored wings because its whole attention, its whole group soul being, is centered on joyous delight in the colors of its wings.
And just as we marvel at its shimmering colors as we follow it, so also can we marvel at its own fluttering joy in these colors. This is something which it is of fundamental importance to cultivate in children, this joy in the spirituality fluttering about in the air, which is in fact fluttering joy, joy in the play of colors. The nuances of butterfly nature reflect all this in a wonderful way; and something else lies in the background as well.
Second of the birds:
[page 73, 74] We were able to say of the bird — which we regarded as represented by the eagle — that at its death it can carry spiritualized earth substance into the spiritual world, and that thereby, as a bird, it has the task in cosmic existence of spiritualizing earthly matter, thus being able to accomplish what cannot be done by man. Human beings have earth matter in their heads that has also been spiritualized to some degree, but they cannot take this earthly matter into the world in which they live between death and a new birth for they would continually have to endure unspeakable, unbearable, devastating pain if they were to carry this spiritualized earth matter of the head into the spiritual world.
The bird world, represented by the eagle, can do this, so that a connection is actually created between what is earthly and what is extra-earthly. Earthly matter is, as it were, gradually transformed into spirit, and bird creation has the task of giving over this spiritualized earthly matter to the universe. One can actually say that when the earth has reached the end of its existence, this earth matter will have been spiritualized, and that bird creation had its place in the whole economy of earthly existence for the purpose of taking this spiritualized earth matter back into spirit land.
In the diagram from 27 October 1923 (Marked 27.Okt.23), we can see in Steiner's own hand his drawing of how cosmic thinking, memories, and dreams are related to the birds, butterflies, and bats which flutter about our world. Cosmic thinking is connected with the birds (11 and 1 o'clock, purple color), cosmic memory with the butterflies (9 to 3 o'clock, cyan, yellow, and red strokes), and cosmic dreaming with the bats (3 o'clock, sketch of bat in white).
[page 83, 84] The bird is the flying thought. But the bat is the flying dream; the flying dream picture of the cosmos. So we can say: The earth is surrounded by fluttering butterflies — they are cosmic memory; by the kingdom of the birds — this is cosmic thinking; and by the bats — they are cosmic dream, cosmic dreaming. The flying dreams of the cosmos actually rush through space as bats. And as dreams love the twilight, so, too, does the cosmos love the twilight and send the bat through space. The enduring thoughts of memory, these we see embodied in the girdle of butterflies encircling the earth; thoughts of the moment we see in the birds encircling the earth; and dreams in the environment of the earth fly about embodied as bats. And you will surely feel, if you enter deeply enough into their form, how much affinity there is between looking at a bat in this way and having a dream! One simply cannot look at a bat without the thought arising: I must be dreaming; that is really something which should not be there, something which is as much outside the other creations of nature as dreams are outside ordinary physical reality.
So we can say: The butterfly sends spiritualized substance into spirit land during its lifetime; the bird sends it out after its death. Now what does the bat do? During its lifetime the bat gives off spiritualized substance, especially that spiritualized substance which exists in the stretched membrane between its separate fingers. But it does not give this over to the cosmos; it sheds it into the atmosphere of the earth. Thereby beads of spirit, so to say, are continually produced in the atmosphere.
Of the butterflies, birds, and bats one can imagine them in action in the act as one reads this short poem I wrote about them.In this next passage Steiner explains that butterflies do not see the Earth, but merely see the cosmos reflected in the Earth as if it were a mirror. Ever wonder why butterflies mostly ignore humans? Their eyes are focusing on the cosmos. The birds do not see the Earth either, all they see is things which are in the air. The bat sees the parts of the Earth it must fly quickly around as it flits; disliking light, bats fly when it is dark.
Butterflies, Birds, and Bats
Flutter, fly, and flit —
but that's not all of it —
Butterflies flutter by,
Birds fly by, and
Bats, in a pique of fit,
they flit.[page 82] A butterfly sees everything that is on the earth as though in a mirror; to the butterfly the earth is a mirror for what is in the cosmos. When you see a butterfly in the air, you have to realize that it ignores the earth, for it is just a mirror reflecting the cosmos. A bird does not see what belongs to the earth, but it sees what is in the air. The bat is the first of these creatures to perceive what it flies through, or flies past. And because it does not like the light, it is unpleasantly affected by everything it sees.
On a serious note, Steiner tells us about bat emanations which provide nutrition to the Dragon principle in people who breathe in these spiritualized bat residues. In another ancient knowledge which has been flattened into a symbolic (or thought to be symbolic) metaphor, we have the slaying of the dragon by Michael the Archangel, often portrayed as St. Michael with his foot on the writhing snake and ready to apply the sword. (See photo of statue.)
[page 86] This bat residue is the most desirable food of what I have described in lectures here as the Dragon. But this bat residue must first be breathed into the human being. The Dragon finds his surest foothold in human nature when man allows his instincts to be imbued with these bat-emanations. There they seethe. And the Dragon feeds on them and grows fat — in a spiritual sense, of course — gaining power over people, gaining power in the most manifold ways. This is something against which modern man must again protect himself; and the protection should come from what has been described here as the new form of Michael's fight with the Dragon. The increase in inner strength which man gains when he takes up into himself the Michael impulse as it has been described.
In Lecture 6, Steiner ties together the animals with the periods of evolution and the organs of the human being. In summary, the human head was formed during the Saturn period (the period of the butterflies and birds), the human lungs and circulatory system during the Sun period (the period of the lions), the human digestive tract and lower organs during the Moon period (the period of the cows). During the first Moon period (Saturn reprise), the butterflies developed, during the second Moon period (Sun reprise) the birds and lions developed, and during the third Moon period the cows, reptiles and amphibians developed. The last creatures to develop were so digestion-oriented that they resemble long digestive tubes. These include toads, frogs, snakes, lizards, and the like.
[page 93] They are simply digestive organs which came into existence as animals. These last creatures appeared during the second Moon period in an extremely clumsy-looking form, and were in fact walking stomachs and entrails, walking stomach and intestines. And only later, during the earth period, did they also acquire a still not particularly distinguished-looking head system.
During the last phase of the Moon period, the human reproduction system came into being at the same time as fishes and snakes first appeared. The snake is likened by Steiner to the renal tubule which is in charge of doing the finest filtering in the human kidneys.
[page 94, 95] We have to regard the fishes as late arrivals in evolution, as creatures that only joined the company of the other animals at a time when man added his organs of reproduction to those of digestion. The snake is the intermediary between the organs of reproduction and digestion. Rightly viewed in regard to human nature, what does the snake represent? It represents what is known as the renal tubule; it originated in world evolution at the same time as the renal tubule developed in man.
The diagram above from 27 October 1923 shows the sparkling colors which radiate from Earth of the cosmic memories of butterflies, the cosmic thinking of birds, and cosmic dreams of bats. These form a corona of the Earth which entices humans in the time between death and a new birth back to Earth. Ever wonder of the awe with which we behold butterflies, birds, and bats? Here is an answer.[page 97] The earth entices man back into incarnation by sending forth into world space the shining radiance of the butterfly corona and the rays of the bird corona. These call man back again into a new earthly existence after he has spent a certain period of time between death and rebirth in the purely spiritual world. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at if man finds it difficult to unravel the complex feelings which he rightly experiences when beholding the world of the butterflies and the birds. For the true reality of these dwells deep in the subconscious. What really works in them is the remembrance of a longing for new earthly existence.
It should be obvious that angels and archangels as spiritual beings have no need of wings for propulsion. And yet, angels and archangels are pictured with wings. Why? Ancient artists who still possessed clairvoyance were inspired by the form of the butterfly which has a strong relationship to the archangelic form. Butterflies are actually gigantic forms contracted into miniature because of the heaviness of earthen substance.
[page 96] If you could separate from a butterfly everything of the nature of the earth substance, it would be able, as spirit-being, as a creature of the light, to expand to archangelic form. In the creatures that inhabit the air we have the earthly images of spiritual forms that exist in the higher regions. This is why, in the time of instinctive clairvoyance, it was the natural thing in artistic creation to derive from the forms of the winged creatures the symbolic form, the pictorial form, of the beings of the higher hierarchies.
Steiner has spoken of brain sand in several other places, From Crystals to Crocodiles, Nutrition and Stimulants, and Occult Physiology, but in this next passage he gives the clearest description of the physiology that I have found. Without a pineal gland large enough to secrete brain sand, normal brain function is not possible. When one has spent a lot of time thinking, one's brain secretes brain sand which must be continually dissolved(6). What is living cannot hold the spirit, Steiner tells us, and therefore some non-living mineral is required to hold our nascent spirit-man(7) in the human being.Part Three: The Plant World and the Elemental Nature Spirits
[page 105] When we follow the course of earth evolution — heat state, airy state, watery state, mineral earthly state — the human head has participated in all these metamorphoses, the mineral metamorphosis initially on the outside, in the decaying skeleton of the head — though this still retains a certain vitality. But the human head has participated in the earthly mineral metamorphosis in a way which is even more apparent. In the center of the human head within the structure of the brain there is an organ shaped like a pyramid, the pineal body. This gland, situated in the vicinity of the superior colliculi (corpora quadrigemina) and the optic thalamus secretes out of itself the so-called brain sand, minute lemon-yellow stones which lie in little heaps at one end of the pineal body, and which are truly the mineral element in the human head. If they do not lie there, if a human being does not have this brain sand, this mineral element, within him, he becomes mentally retarded. In the case of normal people the pineal body is comparatively large. In the mentally retarded, pineal bodies have been found which are actually no larger than hemp seeds; these cannot secrete brain sand.
It is actually in this mineral deposit that the spirit-man is anchored; and this immediately shows that what is living cannot harbor the spirit, but that the spirit in man needs something non-living as its center, which means that above all else it must be a spirit with independent life.
In Lectures 7, 8, and 9 Steiner gives a detailed description of the interactions of the plant world and the elemental beings of gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders (fire spirits). In fairy tales and movies we see gnomes and dwarves always associated with mountains, but we see them walking freely outside the rocky substrates in which these elemental being actually live. For gnomes, rocky strata are like a living room or a large stadium, a place in which to roam and play. Gnomes are root spirits and are responsible for pushing plants up out of the ground.
[page 110] Plants send down their roots into the ground. Anyone who can observe what they really send down and can perceive the roots with spiritual vision (for this he must have) sees how the root is everywhere surrounded by the activities of elemental nature spirits. And these elemental spirits, which an old clairvoyant perception designated as gnomes and which we may call the root spirits, can actually be studied through Imagination and Inspiration, just as human life and animal life can be studied in the physical world. We can look into the soul nature of these elemental spirits, into this world of the spirits of the roots.
The root spirits are quite special earth folk, invisible at first to outer view, but in their effects so much the more visible; for no root could develop if it were not for what is mediated between the root and the earth realm by these remarkable root spirits, which bring the mineral element of the earth into flux in order to conduct it to the roots of plants. I am of course referring to the underlying spiritual process.
The gnomes love the Earth's underground and treat it as their playground(8). They also bear an intelligence that sees and understands immediately(9) without having to shred what they see into particles as we humans do with our analytical logic. These root spirits, as Steiner calls them, carry their cosmic understanding with them on their travels through the Earth.
[page 110, 111] These root spirits, which are everywhere present in the earth, get a quite particular sense of well-being from rocks and from ores (which may be more or less transparent and also contain metallic elements). They have the greatest feeling of well-being(10) in this sphere because it is the place where they belong, where they are conveying what is mineral to the roots of the plants. And they are filled with an inner spirituality that we can only compare to the inner spirituality of the human eye and the human ear. For these root spirits are in their spiritual nature entirely sense. Apart from this they are nothing at all; they consist only of sense. They are entirely sense, and it is a sense which is at the same time intellect, which does not only see and hear, but immediately understands what is seen and heard; it not only receives impressions, but everywhere also receives ideas.
We can even indicate the way in which these root spirits receive their ideas. We see a plant sprouting out of the earth. The plant enters, as I shall presently show, into connection with the extra-terrestrial universe; and, particularly at certain seasons of the year, spiritual currents flow from above, from the flower and the fruit of the plant down into the root, streaming into the earth. And just as we turn our eyes towards the light and see, so do the root spirits turn their faculty of perception towards what trickles downwards from above, through the plant into the earth. What trickles down towards the root spirits is something which the light has sent into the flowers, which the heat of the sun has sent into the plants, which the air has produced in the leaves, which the distant stars have brought about in creating the plant form. The plant gathers the secrets of the universe, sends them into the ground, and the gnomes take these secrets into themselves from what trickles down spiritually to them through the plants. And because the gnomes, particularly from autumn on and through the winter, in their wanderings through ore and rock, bear with them what has trickled down to them through the plants, they are the beings within the earth which carry the ideas of the whole universe on their streaming, wandering journey through the earth.
The gnomes can be very grumpy with humans, considering us to be stupid with our paltry devices of human reason and logic. They know everything totally, and we can only know some things partially. This brings to mind the famously unpleasant dwarf known as Grumpy. One can imagine hearing Grumpy saying to the other dwarfs, "Why don't people stick their noses into the earth down to the depth of the plant's roots, and let what the sun says to the plants trickle down into their noses? Then they would know something! But with logic one can only have odd bits and pieces of knowledge." (Page 113) In addition they dislike anything that is earthly. They literally would like to escape because they feel in danger. The benefit to us from their antipathy is that they push the plant out of the ground into the air above the surface.
[page 113] Nevertheless they remain with the earthly — you will soon see why this is so — but they hate it, for the earthly threatens them with continual danger. The earth continually holds over them the threat of forcing them to take on particular shapes, the configuration of the creatures I described to you in the last lecture, the amphibians, and in particular of frogs and toads. The feeling of the gnomes within the earth is really this: If we grow too strongly together with the earth, we shall assume the form of frogs or toads. They are continually on the alert to avoid being caught up too strongly in the earth and be forced to take on such an earthly form. They are always on the defensive against this earthly form, which threatens them in the element in which they exist as I have described. They have their home in the element of earth and moisture; there they live under the constant threat of being forced into amphibian forms. From this they continually tear themselves free by filling themselves entirely with ideas of the extra-terrestrial universe. The gnomes are really the element within the earth which represents the extra-terrestrial, because they must continually avoid growing together with the earthly; otherwise they would individually take on the forms of the amphibian world. And it is just from what I may call this feeling of hatred, this feeling of antipathy towards the earthly, that the gnomes gain the power of driving the plants up from the earth. With the fundamental force of their being they unceasingly thrust away from the earthly, and it is this thrust that determines the upward direction of plant growth; they impel the plants along with them. The antipathy that the gnomes have to anything earthly causes the plant to have only its roots in the earth and then grow out of the earth; in fact, the gnomes force the plants out of their true, original form and make them grow upwards and out of the earth.
Once the plant reaches out of the ground into the air, the water sprites or undines are the elemental spirits of the watery element which work in the sphere of moisture-air while the gnomes only work in the moisture-earth sphere. While the gnomes operate in the moisture-laden earth around the roots, the undines operate in the moisture-laden soil in the air directly above the surface of the soil. The undines act as chemists who foster the growth of the plant.
[page 115] These undine beings differ in their inner nature from the gnomes. They cannot turn outwards towards the universe like a spiritual sense organ. They can only yield themselves up to the movement and activity of the whole cosmos in the element of air and moisture and they therefore do not have the clarity of mind that the gnomes have. They dream incessantly, these undines, but their dream is at the same time their own form. They do not hate the earth as intensely as do the gnomes, but they have a sensitivity to what is earthly. They live in the etheric element of water, swimming and floating in it. They are highly sensitive to anything in the nature of a fish; for the fish's form is a threat to them. They do assume it from time to time, though only to forsake it immediately in order to take on another metamorphosis. They dream their own existence. And in dreaming their own existence they bind and release, they bind and separate the substances of the air, which in a mysterious way they introduce into the leaves. They take these substances to the plants that the gnomes have thrust upwards. The plants would wither at this point if it were not for the undines, who approach from all sides, and as they move around the plants in their dream-like consciousness, they prove to be what we can only call world chemists. The undines dream the binding and releasing of substances. And this dream, through which the plant exists, into which it grows when, developing upwards, it leaves the ground, this undine dream is the world chemist inducing the mysterious combining and separation of substances in the plant world, starting in the leaf. We can therefore say that the undines are the chemists of plant life. They dream of chemistry.
The next elemental beings which foster the life of the plants are called sylphs. These beings live in the elements of air and warmth and are particularly drawn to currents in the air, such as a flock of birds. In fact, a sylph flitting through air devoid of birds feels lost. When a bird then arrives, it feels its ego through the waves generated by the bird's flight through the air. Through the birds in the air, the sylphs become bearers of love.
[page 117] The sylph feels its ego through what the bird sets in motion as it flies through the air. And because this is so, because its ego is kindled in it from outside, the sylph becomes the bearer of cosmic love through the atmosphere. It is because its ego is kindled in it from outside, the sylph becomes the bearer of cosmic love through the atmosphere. It is because the sylph embodies something like a human wish, but does not have its ego within itself but in the bird kingdom, that it is at the same time the bearer of wishes of love through the universe.
The sylph is the light-bearer to the plant world and the force of this light augments the chemical actions generated by the undines. One begins to see how the elemental forces are at work in the soil, water, air, and light around the plants and to feel as a gnome must about what botanists try to convince us are merely chemical reactions in the material world which create the lush plant life we live amongst. No botanist can explain to me why my basil plants avoid seeding in the lush soil of our herb garden but love to seed between the tiny cracks in nearby paving stones. Apparently the gnomes must love to pull the roots down and push these healthy plants upward between these sturdy rock-like structures.
[page 118] Through the fact that the sylphs bear light into the plant, something quite remarkable is brought about. You see, the sylph is continually carrying light into the plant. The light, that is to say the power of the sylphs in the plant, works on the chemical forces that were induced in the plant by the undines. Here occurs the interworking of the sylph's light and the undine's chemistry. This is a remarkable molding and shaping activity. With the help of the up streaming substances which are worked on by the undines, the sylphs weave an ideal plant form out of the light. They actually weave the Archetypal Plant within the plant from light and from the chemical working of the undines. And when towards autumn the plant withers and everything of physical substance disperses, then these forms of the plants begin to trickle downwards, and now the gnomes perceive them, perceive what the world — the sun through the sylphs, the air through the undines — has brought to pass in the plant. This the gnomes perceive, and throughout the entire winter they are engaged in perceiving below what has trickled down into the soil from the plants. Down there they grasp world ideas in the plant forms which have been given shape and form with the help of the sylphs, and which now enter into the soil in their spiritual, ideal form.
If you find yourself snorting at the folly of this invisible-to-the-physical-eye scheme of plant growth, perhaps you have yourself been convinced that a plant has a female reproductive part (the carpel) which must be fertilized by the male pollen to create a seed capable of producing a new plant. This is the invisible-to-the-physical-eye scheme of plant reproduction promulgated by materialistic botanists. Not so, says Steiner, in fact, he calls it a grievous error! The truth is actually more complex and interesting than any botanist might guess who has not studied Steiner's work. The mother principle of the plant is found in the earth and the father principle is found in the heavens.
[page 118] People who regard the plant as something material will of course know nothing of this spiritual ideal form. Thus at this point a colossal error, a terrible error appears in materialistic observation of the plant. I'll give you a brief outline of this.
Everywhere you will find that in materialistic science matters are described as follows: The plant takes root in the ground, above the ground it develops its leaves and finally its flowers, and within the flower the stamens, then the carpel(11). The pollen from the anthers — usually from another plant — is taken over to the stigma, the carpel is fertilized and through this the seed of the new plant is produced. That is the usual way of describing it. The carpel is regarded as the female element and what comes from the stamens as the male — indeed matters cannot be regarded otherwise as long as people remain bound to materialism, for then this process really does look like fertilization. This, however, it is not. In order to gain insight into the process of fertilization, that is to say the process of reproduction, in the plant world, we must be conscious that in the first place the plant form arises through the work of those great chemists, the undines, and the work of the sylphs. This is the ideal plant form which goes down into the ground and is kept safely by the gnomes. It is there below, this plant form. And there within the earth it is now guarded by the gnomes after they have seen and perceived it. The earth becomes the womb for what thus trickles downwards. This is something quite different from what is described in materialistic science.
At this point it will be useful to look at two diagrams of a plant which Steiner drew with colored chalk on 2 Nov 1923 which were redrawn in a pen drawing on page 112 and 120 of this book. The first one, above (next to page 118 passage), shows how the four elementals work on the plant from the roots up. First the gnomes in the Moisture-Earth pushing up the plant from the ground and nourishing life. Then the undines in the Moisture-Air acting as personal chemists for the plant directly above the ground. Higher up the sylphs in the Air-Warmth bringing the spiritual forces of light to the leaves and branches. And in the upper regions where the flowers form, the fire-spirits (salamanders) in the Warmth-Light bearing warmth to produce seeds for the next generation of the plant.
The second diagram (shown below by 119, 120 passage is Steiner's original colored chalk drawing) illustrates a plant with two roots (white) below ground (the yellow chalk), two leaves on each side of the stem (white ovals), a flower at the top of the stem (two red ovals), with fire spirits in the flower (red circles), and the male carpel at the top (red circle atop the white circle). Now we are able to follow the process of reproduction of the plant aided by the elemental fire spirits.
[page 119, 120] Up here (see drawing), after it has passed through the sphere of the sylphs, the plant enters the level of the elemental fire spirits. These inhabit the element of heat and light. When the warmth of the earth is at its height, or has reached a sufficient level, it is gathered up by the fire spirits. Just as the sylphs gather up the light, so do the fire spirits gather up the warmth and carry it into the flowers of the plant.
Undines carry the action of chemical ether into the plants, sylphs the action of light ether into the flowers. And the pollen provides what may be called little airships that enable the fire spirits to carry warmth into the seed. Everywhere warmth is collected with the help of the stamens, and is carried by means of the pollen from the anthers to the seeds in the carpel. And what is formed here in the carpel in its entirety is the male element that comes from the cosmos. It is not a case of the carpel being female and the anthers of the stamens being male. In no way does fertilization occur in the flower, but only the preforming of the male seed. Fertilization occurs when the cosmic male seed, which fire spirits in the flower take from the warmth of the universe, is brought together with the female principle that has trickled down into the soil as an ideal element at an earlier stage, as I have described, and is resting there.
For plants the earth is the mother, the heavens the father.
If you do not know about the work of the elementals, it is easy to accept that the carpel is the womb of the plant where fertilization occurs. This is a grievous error caused by anthropomorphizing the reproductive process of the plant world without understanding the underlying reality. Goethe was terribly annoyed because people talked about endless 'marriages' going on in the plants. It is the botanical equivalent of the famous phlogiston mistake in chemistry. Phlogiston was deemed to be a substance that left wood when it was burned. Lavoisier proved that oxygen was added to wood when it was burned, completely opposite to what official science had thought for many centuries. The Earth contains the maternal principle of all the plant world and underground is where the fertilization takes place when the seed enters the ground. In humans fertilization occurs when the male seed enters the womb of the human mother. In the plants fertilization occurs when the male seed enters the plant's mother, the Earth.
[page 121] And all that takes place outside the domain of the earth is not the maternal womb for the plant. It is a colossal error to believe that the maternal principle of the plant is in the carpel. This is in fact the male principle which has been drawn forth from the universe with the aid of the fire spirits. The maternal element is taken from the cambium of the plant, which lies between bark and wood, and carried down as ideal form. And what now results from the combined gnomes' and fire spirits' activity — this is fertilization. The gnomes are, in fact, the spiritual midwives of plant reproduction. Fertilization takes place below in the earth during the winter, when the seed enters the earth and meets with the forms which the gnomes have received from the activities of the sylphs and undines, and which they now carry to where these forms can meet with the fertilizing seeds.
You see, because people do not recognize what is spiritual, do not know that gnomes, undines, sylphs and fire spirits — which were formerly called salamanders — are actively involved in plant growth, there is a complete lack of clarity about the process of fertilization in the plant world. Up there, outside the earth, nothing by way of fertilization takes place; the earth is the mother of the plant world, the heavens the father. This is the case in a quite literal sense. Plant fertilization takes place through the fact that gnomes take from fire spirits what the fire spirits have carried into the carpel as concentrated cosmic warmth on the tiny airships of the anther pollen. Thus the fire spirits are the bearers of warmth.
If the usage of the word salamander to refer to fire spirits seems strange to you, it was a familiar term to a friend of mine who worked in a Chicago steel mill. He was told during the winter if he got cold to "go over by the salamander" which was fiery pit of molten steel. Don't bees fertilize plants as they fly from flower to flower? Yes, but it is the salamanders or fire spirits which are attracted to the bees. The aura of each bee, visible to spiritual sight, is a fire spirit which carries cosmic warmth and to pour into the bees' "tiny airships" of anther pollen.
Once again the thought may arise in some readers, "If these elementals exist, why can't I see them?" It should be clear that our fairy tales indicate to us that ancient folk knew about these spiritual creatures and incorporated them into their tales. But the evolution of consciousness goes on constantly and our quantum leap forward in consciousness of the material world over the past 600 years accompanied our loss of direct perception of certain spiritual realities such as the elementals.
[page 127] The reason why this company of gnomes, undines, sylphs and fire spirits is not perceptible in the same way as animals, plants and so on, is merely that man, in the present epoch of his earth evolution, is not in a position to unfold his soul and spirit without the help of his physical and ether bodies. In the present situation of earth evolution man is obliged to depend on the etheric body for the purposes of his soul, and on the physical body for the purposes of his spirit. The physical body which provides the instrument for the spirit, that is, the sensory apparatus, is not able to enter into communication with the beings that exist behind the physical world. It is the same with the etheric body, which man needs to develop as an ensouled being. Through this, if I may put it so, half of his earthly environment escapes him. He passes over everything connected with the elemental beings about which I spoke yesterday. The physical and the ether body have no access to this world.
"Look sharp, like a Goblin!" is an idiomatic phrase in Germany, and is based on very old knowledge of how goblins and gnomes are ever-alert sentinels of the world, so much so that for a goblin or dwarf to sleep or even become sleepy would cause it to die. (Page 129) This is something Walt Disney missed when he named one of his dwarfs Sleepy.
Lecture 8 goes more deeply into the nature of the gnomes, undines, sylphs, and fire spirits, but I want to focus on the relationship of fire spirits and thoughts. Rightly understood, thoughts are like radio waves which flow through the air until they are caught by some antenna. Our brain does not originate thoughts but receives them, reflects them, and can create memories of them and words to describe what was received. To believe that our brain contains thoughts is as juvenile as believing that the mirror on her dresser contains beyond it another world that Alice could enter.
[page 134, 135] One finds that the human head only calls forth the illusion that thoughts are enclosed inside the skull. They are only reflected there; their mirrored images are there. What underlies these thoughts belong to the sphere of the fire spirits. On entering this sphere one sees thoughts to be not only what they are in themselves, but the thought content of the world, which, at the same time, is actually rich in imaginative content.
There is another aspect of brain function which Steiner illuminates that is surprising — its connection with the process of elimination. He says that "The human brain is the further evolved product of elimination," and that this is why there is a connection between diseases of the brain and intestinal diseases, and also their cure. (page 137) The processes of the brain and the lower digestive tract both involve elimination, but in the head the process of elimination is carried further and results in our human brain(12).
[page 137] If you think of the human being as consisting of metabolism and limbs, of the chest — that is, the rhythmical system — and then the head — that is, the system of nerves and senses — there are certain things about which you must be quite clear. Down below processes are taking place — let us leave out the rhythmical sphere — and above processes are taking place. If you look at the processes taking place below as a whole, you find that in ordinary life they have one result that is usually disregarded. These processes are those of elimination: through the intestines, through the kidneys, and so on; and all of them have their outlet in a downward direction. They are mostly regarded simply as processes of elimination. But this is nonsense. Elimination does not take place merely in order to eliminate, but to the same degree in which the products of elimination arise something arises spiritually in the lower sphere of man which resembles what the brain is, physically, above. What occurs in the lower man is a process arrested halfway as far as its physical development is concerned. Elimination takes place because the process passes over into the spiritual. In man's upper sphere the process is taken to its conclusion. What below is only spiritual there assumes physical form. Above we have the physical brain, below a spiritual brain. And if what is eliminated below were to be subjected to a further process, if one were to continue the transformation, then ultimately such metamorphosis would give rise to the human brain.
And in addition we learn from Steiner that we owe our brain capabilities to the parasites which malevolent gnomes and undines give rise to in us.
[page 137, 138] You see, because gnomes and undines exist, because there is a world in which they are able to live, the forces exist that are certainly capable of giving rise to parasites in man's lower sphere; but at the same time, in man's upper sphere, this gives rise to metamorphosis into the brain of the products of elimination. It would be absolutely impossible for us to have a brain if the world were not so ordered that gnomes and undines can exist.
The sylphs are responsible for the poisons in the plant world, if the sylphs descend too far.[page 138] It is right that when the sylphs develop their enveloping forces up above, as I have already described, where the light literally comes and touches you all over — for the bird world needs this. But if the sylph descends, and makes use in the plant world below of what it should employ above, a potent vegetable poison is engendered. Parasitic beings arise through gnomes and undines; and through sylphs arise the poisons which are in fact a heavenly element that has streamed down too far, has descended to earth.
For gnomes the entire Earth is like the interior of a huge department store would be for a woman, a paradise full of wonderful things to look at and enjoy. But gnomes have no idea that the Earth exists in the way that we humans know it.[page 143] They have not the least idea that the earth exists. Their idea is that there is a space in which they perceive certain experiences: the experience of gold, the experience of mercury, of tin, of silica, and so on. This is to express it in human language, not in the language of the gnomes.
Every year about June or so, some news programs talks about the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico as if it were some dreadful thing. But for the undines, such a zone of putrefying organisms is a delight![page 147] All this, however, is different for the undines. It causes them no unpleasant sensations; but when the millions and millions of water creatures which perish in the sea start decomposing, the sea becomes for the undines the most wonderful phosphorescent play of colors. It shines and glitters with every possible color. Especially does the sea glitter for them, inwardly and outwardly, in every shade of blue, violet and green.
From these so-called dead zones, the undines soar upwards and offer themselves as sacrifices to the higher hierarchies, in which they continue thereafter to live.
In Lecture 9 Steiner gives this summary of the four elementals.
[page 150, 151] Thus we see how these elemental beings are the intermediaries between the earth and the spirit-cosmos. We see the drama of the phosphorescent upsurge of the undines, which pass away in the sea of light and flame of the higher hierarchies as their sustenance; we see the upward flashing greenish-reddish lightning, which is breathed where the earth continually passes over into eternity, the eternal survival of the fire spirits, whose activity never ceases. For whereas, here on earth, birds tend to die at a particular time of year, the fire spirits make sure that what is to be seen of them pours out into the universe throughout the entire year. Thus the earth is as though cloaked in a mantle of fire. Seen from outside the earth appears fiery. But everything is brought about by beings who see the things of the earth quite differently from how man sees them. As already mentioned, man's experience of the earth is of a hard substance on which he stands and walks about. For the gnomes it is a transparent globe, a hollow body. For the undines water is something in which they perceive the phosphorizing process, which they can take into themselves as living experience. Sylphs see in the astrality of the air, which emanates from dying birds, something that makes them into more actively flashing lightning than they would otherwise be, for in itself the lightning of these sylphs is dull and bluish. And then again the disintegration of butterfly existence is something which continually envelops the earth as though with a shell of fire. Beholding this, it seems as though the earth were surrounded by a wonderful fiery painting; and there to one side, when one looks upwards from the earth, one beholds these lightning flashes, these phosphorescent and evanescent undines. All this shows us that here on earth the elemental nature spirits move and work actively, striving upwards and passing away in the fiery mantle of the earth. In reality, however, they do not pass away, but they find their eternal existence by passing over into beings of the higher hierarchies.
The title of this book is "Harmony of the Creative Word" and the Gospel of John begins with these words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." What is the meaning of Word and how was it in our beginning? Steiner sheds light on that in this next passage and calls our attention to the chorus of voices proclaiming the Word that we humans might miss in our current state of evolution of consciousness where the voices of the gnomes, undines, sylphs, and fire spirit spirits do reach our ears and we have been unconscious of their presence in the world around us, up until now.
[page 156, 157] For the primeval idea, which had its source in instinctive clairvoyance, that the world was born out of the Word is indeed a profound truth, but the World Word is not some collection of syllables gathered from just a few sources; the World Word sounds forth from a countless multitude of beings. Countless, countless beings have something to say in the totality of the world, and the World Word sounds forth from the concordance of these countless beings. The general abstract truth that the world is born out of the Word cannot bring this home to us in its fullness. One thing alone can do this, namely, that we gradually arrive at a concrete understanding of how the World Word in all its different nuances is composed of the voices of individual beings, so that these different nuances contribute their sound, their utterance, to the great world harmony, the mighty world melody, in the Word's act of creation.
And, of course, among those countless beings are our new friends, introduced to us by Rudolf Steiner in these pages, the gnomes, undines, sylphs, and fire spirits. If we do not attend to the presence of their voices in this cosmic chorus, we lack understanding into our skeletal system, our metabolic system, our rhythmic system, our nerves and sensory system.Part Four: The Secrets of the Human Organism
[page 156, 157] When the gnome chorus sounds forth its 'Strive to awaken' this — translated into gnome language — is the force which is active in bringing about the human skeletal system, and the system of movement in general.
When the undines utter 'Think in the spirit', they utter — translated into Undine — what pours itself as World Word into man in order to give form to the metabolic organs.
When the sylphs, as they are breathed, allow their 'Live and create breathing existence' to stream downwards, there penetrates into man, moving and pulsating everywhere in him, the force which endows him with the organs of the rhythmical system.
And if one attends to the fire-spirit sounds that resound and stream in from the fire mantle of the world with a voice of thunder, then one finds that this sounding manifests as image or reflection. It streams in from the fire mantle — this sounding force of the word. And the nerves and senses of every human being, every human head we might say, is a miniature image of what — translated into the language of fire spirits — rings out as: 'Receive in love the will-power of the gods'. This 'Receive in love the will-power of the gods' is what is active in the highest substances of the world. When man is going through his development in the life between death and a new birth, this transforms what he brought with him through the gate of death into what will later be the human organs of the nerves and senses.
We have now reached Lectures 10, 11, and 12 of Part Four which begins with this quote:
'Physical natural laws, etheric natural laws, are the characters of a script which depicts the spiritual world. We only understand these things when we are able to conceive them as written characters from spiritual worlds.'
This series of lectures given to people with the purpose to foster a deep study of the human being. In a sense all of Steiner's anthroposophy has that as its goal, as anthropos means the full human being and sophy means science or knowledge. How is the human being related to the cosmos? Each system of the human body was formed during a different period of the evolution of the cosmos.
[page 163, 164] You see, when you move your arms and stretch them out, when you move your fingers, when you carry out any kind of external movement, everything in your organism which enables you to move your arms and legs, your head, your lips, and so on — and the forces on which man's external movements depend extend to the inmost parts of the human organism — all this was vouchsafed to man by our current planetary stage of Earth evolution. If, on the other hand, you look into everything connected with the development of the metabolism, which is enclosed by man's skin, if you look at all the metabolic functions in the physical body, you have a picture of what man owes to Moon evolution. And you have a picture of what man owes to old Sun evolution when you look into everything in him that involves some kind of rhythmical process. Breathing and blood circulation are of course the most important of these rhythmical processes, and these man owes to old Sun evolution. Everything in man comprising the system of nerves and senses, which is distributed over the whole body in people today, we owe to old Saturn evolution.
Within each period of evolution there is a reprise of the previous periods in order. So in the Earth period we will go through a reprise of the Saturn, Sun, Moon evolutions. In the Sun period there was a Saturn reprise and in the Moon period there was a Saturn and Sun reprise. These are the reprises of Saturn that Steiner refers to in this next passage.
[page 164] In regard to all this, however, you must bear in mind that the human being is a whole and that world evolution is a whole. When we examine old Saturn evolution in the way I did in my Occult Science, we mean the period of evolution that aeons and aeons ago preceded Sun, Moon and Earth evolution. But this is only one Saturn evolution, the one that eventually gave rise to the earth. Whilst the earth is evolving, another Saturn evolution also takes place. This new Saturn evolution is contained within Earth evolution; it is, so to speak, the most recent Saturn evolution. The original one that led to Earth evolution is the oldest. The Saturn evolution which was part of the old Sun is more recent, and the one that was part of the Moon still more recent. And the Saturn that today imbues the earth and is above all responsible for certain aspects of its warmth organization, this Saturn is the most recent of all. We, with our human nature, are part of this Saturn evolution.
When we eat foods, they can be combinations of minerals (such as salt), plants, and animals. These foods must be completely altered before they can become part of our human body. Unless that transformation is complete, we will become ill from the food. We can ingest minerals, plants, and animal flesh, but minerals must be given warmth by our body, plants must take on a transitional airy form, and everything animal must be made into a liquid form before the human body can digest it.
[page 167] The metabolic system converts what belonged to man's surroundings into what is essentially human. It gradually changes everything mineral into warmth ether, everything vegetable to the gaseous, airy or vaporous state, and everything animal — that is, what animals produce in themselves — to the fluid state, creating the solid, organized form of the fully human element.
Food is dissolved in the mouth by saliva, the pepsin in the stomach, secretions from the pancreas and then from the gall bladder, etc. Each of these processes must be linked in a chain because when the next process in the chain takes over it and checks the previous metabolic process, which if unchecked would make one ill. Note that metabolic processes started during the Moon period of evolution and the circulatory processes started during the earlier Sun period. The circulatory processes continually heal the body while the metabolic processes try to harm it. It's as if divine wisdom had created the doctor in advance of the illness.
[page 170] Every metabolic process, if unchecked, causes illness in the organism. If, therefore, metabolism is to exist at all in man, other processes must exist whose beginnings are of an earlier date. These are the circulatory processes. The circulation produces continuous healing processes. So that we may really describe the human being by saying: During the old Moon evolution man first became a patient, but the human constitution is such that the physician preceded the patient. During the epoch of old Sun, man arose as the physician for his own subsequent constitution. It shows great foresight in world evolution that the physician came into existence before the patient, for the patient in man was only added on old Moon. If we are to describe man rightly, we must work backwards from the metabolic to the circulatory processes, including, of course, all the impulses that underlie the circulatory processes. One substance induces quicker, another substance slower circulation in the widest possible sense. We do of course also have minor circulatory systems in us. Take any mineral substance, gold let us say, or copper. Introduced in some way — by mouth, by injection or in some other way — every substance is endowed with the power of influencing the circulation, changing it, restoring it to health, and so on. And what one must know, in order to gain insight into the essential healing processes in man, is what kind of processes every single substance in the world around us triggers in us to change the circulation. Thus one can say that the circulation is a continual process of healing.
What happens in smoking (and the use of other tobacco products) is that when the substance nicotine enters the body, the heart rate is increased in relation to the breathing rate. This throws the cosmic balance of our breathing and respiration out of whack and eventually causes sickness. Steiner shows us how to calculate our respiration rate from the cosmos and this allows us to check our respiration rate against our circulatory (pulse) rate and discover for ourselves if it is out of balance.
[page 171] You can, if you wish, work this out for yourselves. Recall how I told you that on average we draw eighteen breaths a minute. Here we find a remarkably regular agreement with the cosmos, for the number of breaths we draw in a day corresponds to the circulatory rhythm of the sun in its course through the solar year. The spring equinox of the sun traverses the entire zodiac in 25,920 years. In middle life we draw on average 25,920 breaths a day. The pulse beats are four times as many. The other, more inwardly concentrated circulation is influenced by the metabolism. The breathing cycle reflects our communication with the outside world, our reciprocal relationship with it. This breathing rhythm must continually restrain the circulatory rhythm, so that it remains in its proportion of one to four, otherwise our circulation would come into a quite irregular rhythm, and not the figure of 103,680. Nothing in the cosmos corresponds to this irregular rhythm, and man is severing all connection with the cosmos in this respect. His metabolism is tearing him away from the cosmos and estranging him from it. His breathing rhythm is continually pulling him back into the cosmos. This division and the way the breathing rhythm controls the circulatory rhythm represents the primal healing process that is continually at work in man. In a certain delicate way, every medical treatment must be designed to assist the breathing process (which in a way continues into all parts of the body) so that it can control the circulatory process and bring it back into harmony with the general relationships in the cosmos.
There is a common expression today that "What happens in Las Vegas remains in Las Vegas." This is true of the processes of the circulatory and nervous systems. They must be kept in harmony and what runs in each system must remain in that system and must be kept separate from the other systems or either inflammation from an errant circulatory system or tumors from an errant nervous system will occur. Steiner summarizes it neatly:[page 177] What runs in the nerve must remain in the nerve, what runs in the blood must remain in the blood. If what belongs in the blood enters into adjacent tissues, inflammation results. If what belongs to the nerve enters into adjacent tissues, all kinds of lesions develop that are commonly referred to as tumors.
And yet the factors which can cause illnesses in the human body must be there as under certain circumstances, they are agents of healing. It is good to recall what Steiner says about "evil" — it is a good out of its time or place.
[page 177, 178] Here again, you see, we come into the domain of therapy and of healing processes. All this serves to show you how everything must be present in man, how above all an element of illness must be present so that in another situation it may become an element of health; it is merely that the wrong process has taken it to the wrong place. For if it did not exist at all, man could not exist either. Man could not exist if he were unable to get inflammations, for the inflammation-inducing forces must continually be present in the blood. This was what I meant when I kept saying that everything one gains in the way of knowledge must be won from a real knowledge of man. Here you see why an education carried out in an up-in-the-air, abstract fashion is really something absurd. Education must in fact always start from certain pathological processes in man, and from the possibility of curing them.
If this all seems too complicated for you, then perhaps you have read enough in just this review to grasp this simple dictum of Steiner, which I understand to be an expansion of the saying above Apollo's temple, namely, "Know Thyself":
To find and know yourself,
Look all around you in the world.
To find and know the world,
Look into all the depths within yourself.
And there is no better way to look into the world or into yourself than to have Rudolf Steiner as your guide and clairvoyant seeing-eye assistant. It should be clear that Steiner does not begin with abstractions about the world or the body. He doesn't peer into a telescope to learn about the cosmos, nor does he peer into a microscope (which he labels a "nulloscope") to learn about the human body. He makes observations about how the processes of the human body's systems interact together. Most importantly he avoids the deadly assumption that what happens in the human body is equivalent to what happens in a chemical laboratory. Human beings are not machines and deserve to be treated as individuals, not as diseases on a doctor's chart. "Here's the hernia patient. . . . etc." To recognize a person's name is to recognize their individuality and separate what is going on in them from what goes on in every other patient with the same disease.
[page 183] You will have gathered from what has been said so far that man's relation to his environment is very different from what modern minds often conceive. It is so easy to think that what exists in man's surroundings, what belongs to the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms and is then taken into the body, that these external material processes which are investigated by the physicist, the chemist and so on, simply continue on in the same way in man himself. There can, however, be no question of this for one must be clear that inside the human skin and its processes everything is different from outside it, that the world inside differs entirely from the world outside. As long as one is not aware of this, one will continually assume that what is examined in a retort, or investigated in some other way, is continued on inside the human organism; and the human organism itself will simply be regarded as a more complex system of retorts.
The powerful passage above inspired me to write this poem as a powerful retort to the chemists who distill natural concoctions in their chemical retorts and claim to improve the health of their customers by doing so.A Powerful Retort
A glass retort allows
chemicals to be distilled
according to physical principles —
The glass retort neither participates
in the chemical reactions
nor modifies them in any way.
If the glass retort accelerated
a chemical reaction,
it would be called a catalyst.
The human being is a powerful retort.
It is not an inert retort
like a glass retort used for distilling.
The human being catalyzes and distills
minerals into warmth ether,
plants into an airy stage,
animal matter into a watery stage,
during our metabolism
which powers our limbs, breathing,
and thinking processes.
This is Steiner's powerful retort to materialistic science.
If what the materialist chemists claim were true then a child should be able to eat the same foods as an adult, and yet we know that babies cannot accept any food which is not a liquid, any food that is mother's milk or close to the ingredients of mother's milk(13).
[page 185] A child is as yet quite unable to change what is lifeless into the warmth etheric condition; he has not enough strength in his organism. He must drink the milk which is still so nearly akin to the human organism in order to bring it into the condition of warmth ether and apply its forces to carrying out the truly extensive shaping and mold that is necessary during the years of childhood to produce the human form. . . . If you take some external substance and wish to test its value for human life you simply cannot do this by means of ordinary chemistry.
The human organism must exert enough force to bring the external mineral substance into warmth ether, and if it doesn't achieve this, the substance remains as a foreign inorganic matter and is deposited as such in the body. (Page 186) Gout and diabetes are two common examples of such a condition. In gout it is uric acid crystals which are deposited in the muscle tissue of the lower limbs and the result is extreme pain which persists until the conditions, usually overeating, which caused the crystal deposits, are reversed. In diabetes, it is sugar in mineralized form which is deposited.
The Swedes say this about the weather, "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing." What is it about cold weather which causes one to catch a cold? If one is not wearing the appropriate clothing for the conditions one finds oneself in, then one is unable to adjust one's individual warmth quickly enough. Good clothing prevents colds by allowing one to do this.
[page 187] That is the inner process of catching a cold. To catch a cold is a poisoning by external temperature, of which the organism has not taken possession.
You see, everything in the external world is poison for man, actual poison, and it only becomes of service to him when, through his individual forces, he lays hold of it and makes it his own.
The ancient Pythagoreans strived to be superb thinkers and they still had enough native clairvoyance to perceive the astral nature of certain plants used for food. Steiner relates:
[page 192] In the case of plants that are strongly imbued with astrality, for example peas and beans, even the fruit will remain in the lower human organism and be unwilling to rise up to the head, thus producing a heavy sleep and dulling the brain on waking. The Pythagoreans wished to be clear thinkers and not involve digestion in the functions of the head. This why they forbade the eating of beans.
The rhyming of beans and Pythagoreans was too neat for me to avoid a short poem to help me remember the connection of beans to thinking and to those who first noticed the connection. Here it is:
Peas and Beans and Fruit
The Pythagoreans were human beings
who would eat no beans.
They wanted to think in clarity
so in all charity,
They urged others to avoid the astrality
of peas and beans and fruit.
There's nothing to it,
the Pythagoreans said,
If you wish to keep your head from sleep
and remain awake and clear.
You must avoid those peas and beans
which produce a dulling sleep
To keep you from that clarity of thinking
and let you avoid that feeling of sinking
Which makes you want to stay in bed.
So get this into your beans:
You must stay away from beans.
For human beings, who away from beans keep,
will find no dulling sleep
To dull their thinking
or keep them sinking into bed.
So if you want to think in clarity,
keep away from peas and beans and fruit.
In actuality, there's nothing to it.
Steiner has on several other occasions mentioned that the human being does not require the complex proteins in animal meat unless one has a very short intestinal tract such as the lion and other meat-eaters naturally have. In fact, eating a diet of meat easily leads to overeating of protein which can make one more susceptible to infections and other illnesses. Some people have short digestive tracts, but that's probably a minority of people. In any case, Steiner refuses to tell individuals what they should eat. He simply gives the facts of nutrition as he knows it and allows individuals to decide for themselves. This is a healthier approach, in my opinion, than most Western doctors take with their patients. For their part, they seem to be mostly quoting statistics as if one could accurately choose what's right for oneself from statistics. And if you don't choose to do what their statistics indicate you should, your doctor will likely get upset or even angry at you. Such an "I-know-what-you-should-do" attitude of Western doctors towards their patients does not serve either the doctors or their patients well. Steiner rarely uses the word should as an injunction for his listeners and readers to do some thing or another. He lays out the facts as he knows them, sometimes he is a minority of one, and you get to decide what is best to do in your life. In this case he uses should to refer to something he strives to avoid doing for himself in the spiritual science he founded and promoted. As you read this next passage, imagine yourself hearing such advice from your personal doctor, "I give you the information about diet and you decide what's best for you." It would be surprising and refreshing, would it not?
[page 195] This brings us to something about which I can only speak on a soul level, for anthroposophy should never campaign for anything, should never advocate either one thing or another, but should only present the truth. The conclusion people draw from their own lives are their own personal affair. Anthroposophy does not lay down rules, but puts forward truths. For this reason I shall never, even for fanatics, lay down any kind of law based on what an animal produces from its plant food. No dogmatic commands shall be given in regard to vegetarianism, meat-eating and so on, for these things must be a matter of personal judgment entirely and it is really only in the sphere of personal experience that they have value. I mention this in order to avoid giving people the idea that anthroposophy entails advocating this or that kind of diet. What it actually does is enable people to understand any form of diet.
We saw earlier that milk was important because it contains form-building forces for the child. These forces are especially directed to the head of the child from which its development proceeds. But what about an older person? Do they require milk?
[page 196] If at a later age man wishes to retain these form-developing forces, it is not good to promote them by drinking milk. In the case of the child what ascends into the head is able, by means of the forces of the head which are present until the change of teeth, to radiate form principles into the whole body; in an older person the process is no longer present. In later age, the whole of the rest of the organism must radiate form-giving forces. And these form-giving forces for the whole organism are particularly strengthened in their impulses when one eats something which works in quite another way than is the case with the head.
You see, the head is entirely enclosed. Within this head are the impulses used in childhood for the shaping of the body. In the rest of the body we have bones within and the form-giving forces outside, so that the form-developing forces must be stimulated from outside. While we are children these form-giving forces in the head are stimulated when we give milk to the human being. When we are no longer children these forces are no longer there. What should we do then so that these form-giving forces may be stimulated more from outside?
What we need is an adult equivalent to the form-building forces found in milk and those forces can be found in the honey made by bees. The consumption of honey is especially important for adult human beings. Not a lot of honey is required, however, because it is only the form-building forces which are important.
[page 197] A stock of bees is really a head open on all sides. What the bees are doing is actually the same as what the head does within itself. The hive we give them is at most a support. The bees' activity, however, is not enclosed but produced from outside. In a stock of bees we have under external spiritual influence the same thing as we have under spiritual influence inside the head. We have honey inside the bee hive and when we eat and enjoy honey it gives us the form-giving forces that must now be provided more from outside, with the same strength and power that milk gives us for our head during the years of childhood.
Thus while we are still children we consume milk to strengthen the form-giving forces in a process that comes from the head; if at a later age we still need form-giving forces we must eat honey. Nor do we need to eat it in tremendous quantities — it is only a question of absorbing its forces.
Have you noticed that milk is important for babies and honey for adults? What would be an ideal place to live? A land flowing with milk and honey. The ancient people who searched for such lands knew instinctively the wisdom of form-developing forces in the child and adult that Steiner is sharing with us in this book.
[page 197] Thus by fully understanding the outer world of nature one learns how forces that help development must be introduced into human life. And if we would conceive a land where there are beautiful children and beautiful old people, what kind of a land would this be? It would be a 'a land flowing with milk and honey'. So you see ancient instinctive vision was in no way wrong when it said that the lands people longed for were those flowing with milk and honey.
Many such simple sayings contain the profoundest wisdom and there is really no more beautiful experience than first to make every possible effort to experience the truth, and then to find some ancient holy saying abounding in deep wisdom, such as 'a land flowing with milk and honey'. That is indeed a rare land, for in it there are only beautiful children and beautiful old people.
We look at the human body today and see only half of its reality unless, in addition to flesh and bones, we perceive it at the level of mind and spirit. We would not know, for instance, that the bones can lead us into hatred and the blood into confusion. But the ancients could perceive such things directly by looking at a person.
[page 201, 202] No matter how long one studies a bone, if one only does so with the eye of present-day science, one will never be able to say this bone is what leads man astray into hatred. And to whatever degree one is able to investigate the blood according to the principles by which it is investigated today, one will never be able to say: This blood is what leads man astray into lack of human understanding.
In times when initiation science was a primal impulse matters were certainly quite different. Then one turned one's gaze to the physical, bodily nature of man and perceived it to be the counter-image of what instinctive clairvoyance provided at the level of mind and spirit.
Hatred in the human being, if we do not release it before we die, stays with us until we encounter the second hierarchy of spirits in the life between death and a new birth.
[page 206, 207] Having gone through the gate of death, however, he finds that his further development is not his own concern alone, but the concern of the whole world order, the wisdom-filled world order. First of all he finds in the other world beings of the third hierarchy, angels, archangels, archai. In the first period after man has passed through the gate of death into the world lying between death and a new birth these beings stoop downward and mercifully take from man the coldness which comes from lack of human understanding. And we see how the beings of the third hierarchy assume the burden of what man carries up to them into the spiritual world in the way I have described, by passing through the gate of death.
It is for a longer period that man must carry with him the remains of human hatred, for this can only be taken from him by grace of the spirits of the second hierarchy, exusiai, kyriotetes, dynamis. They take from him all that remains of human hatred.
Only by the grace of the second hierarchy can we progress past the midnight hour of our existence and begin our return to Earth in a new lifetime. Were it not for their assistance, we would be annihilated completely.
[page 207] And then the human being arrives in the region between death and a new birth where the first hierarchy, seraphim, cherubim, thrones, have their abiding place, which I described in my Mystery Play as the midnight hour of existence in the spirit(14). Man would be quite unable to pass through this region of the seraphim, cherubim and thrones without being inwardly annihilated, utterly destroyed, had not the beings of the second and third hierarchies already taken from him in their mercy human lack of understanding, that is to say moral coldness, and human hatred. And so we see how man, in order to find access to the impulses that can contribute to his further development, must at first burden the beings of the higher hierarchies with what he carries up into the spiritual world from his physical and etheric bodies, where it really belongs.
A popular song during the last quarter of the twentieth century was "These Boots Are Made for Walking" and it was about a woman who was tired of being put down and ignored by her man and who said in the song that she would reverse the order of things when, "One of these days, these boots are gonna walk all over you." The idea that the boots could think for themselves didn't seem strange in the context of the idiomatic speech of the song, but Steiner might say that it indicated a spiritual truth that our feet have an innate knowledge of our karma which ofttimes our head does not possess.
[page 209, 210] As we go about here on earth, we only have our poor head as the organ of our mental images and our thoughts. But thoughts also accompany our chest, thoughts also particularly accompany our limbs. And the moment we cease to think only with the head, but begin to think with our limbs, in that moment the whole reality of karma is opened up to us. We know nothing of our karma because we always think only with that most superficial of organs, our brain. The moment we begin to think with our fingers — and just with our fingers and toes we can think much more brightly than with the nerves of the head — once we have soared up to the possibility of doing so — the moment we begin to think with what has not become entirely material, when we begin to think with the lower man, our thoughts are the thoughts of our karma. When we do not merely grasp with our hand but think with it, then, thinking with our hand, we follow our karma. And even more so with the feet; when we do not only walk but think with our feet, we follow the course of our karma with special clarity. That man is such a dullard on earth — excuse me, but no other word occurs to me — comes from the fact that all his thinking is enclosed in the region of his head. But man can think with his entire being. Whenever we think with our entire being, then for our middle region a whole cosmology, a marvelous cosmic wisdom, becomes our own. And for the lower region and the limb system especially karma becomes our own.
We perceive but half of the actuality of the world around us if we perceive it only with our physical senses, and likewise, any biography written of one's life by someone who only perceives with physical senses will portray only half of one's existence — the part between life and death — and the other half — the part between death and a new lifetime — will be ignored.
[page 213] When man's life between death and a new birth — his life in the spiritual world — is beheld . . . one can describe his experiences in that world in just as much detail as his biography here on earth. So we may live in the hope that, when we pass through the gate of death, all that we take into the world of the spirit as lack of understanding and human hatred may be given back to us again, and ennobled through human forms being created from it.
People are always asking questions of this tone, "How did we get in the mess we're in?" They seem to love asking the question, but I wonder how many of them have ever tried really hard at finding the answer to this question. And of them how many would do the hard work to understand the answer if someone laid it out on the table for them as Steiner has done? See for yourself what he has to say about how our civilization came to be the way it is. It is not surprising that the two illnesses Steiner chose almost a hundred years ago to use as metaphors for our civilization's sorry shape should be the very same physical illnesses which plague so many people today.
[page 213, 214] In the course of long centuries something very strange has come to pass, however, for the present stage of human evolution. It no longer proved possible to use up all the forces of human lack of understanding and human hatred and make them into new human forms in the world of the spirit. Something was left over. In the course of the last centuries this residue has streamed down on to the earth, so that in the spiritual atmosphere of the earth, in what I may call the earth's astral light, there is to be found an infiltration of the impulses of human hatred and human contempt, impulses that exist exterior to man. These have not been incorporated into human forms; they stream around the earth in the astral light. They influence man — not individual human beings but the relationships which people form with one another on the earth. They influence civilization. And within civilization they have brought about what compelled me to say, in the spring of 1914 in Vienna(15), that our present-day civilization is invaded by a spiritual cancer, by spiritual ulcers.
In 1914 he was speaking of the time immediately before the Great War which after the second great war in 1940 became called World War I. He was aware of the spiritual illnesses in the world, what he called the "utterly diseased tissues of civilization." He saw the parasitic tendencies of civilization in his time. If he were alive today, no doubt he would see even more parasitic tendencies in our time. Mistletoe is a parasite that cannot live in the earthen ground, but can only live off of living plant tissue. Much in our civilization is like mistletoe, but it lives off of the products of the human mind. "Change your thoughts and change your life" was the motto of Donald Curtis in his book entitled "Your Thoughts Can Change Your Life" written in the mid-twentieth century. What Steiner is telling us is that we can change our mind and change all of civilization!
[page 215] Much in our modern civilization has no connection with man. Like the mistletoe — spiritually speaking — it lives on what man brings forth from the original impulses of his mind and heart. Much of this manifests in our civilization as parasitic existence. To anyone who has the power of seeing our civilization with spiritual vision, in the astral light, as it were, the year 1914 already presented an advanced stage of cancer, a tumor; for him the whole of civilization was already invaded by parasites. But then something further is added to this parasitic condition.
And now he gives us a quick summary of material he covered in the earlier lectures of this book dealing with the elementals, material which if he had not covered, we would not be able to grasp what he is telling us now. He is revealing how two poisons fill our culture. A parasitic culture which ignores elemental law and spirituality which is converted to poison when it enters people.
[page 215] I have described to you in what may be called a spiritual physiology how the nature of the gnomes and undines, who work from below upwards, gives rise to the possibility of parasitic impulses in man. Then, however, as I explained, the opposite picture presents itself in contrast — for poison is carried downwards by the sylphs and the elemental beings of warmth. And so in a civilization like ours, which bears a parasitic character, what comes down from above — spiritual truth, though not poison in itself, is transformed into poison in man, so that our civilization rejects it in fear and invents all kinds of reasons for this rejection. The two things belong together: a parasitic culture below, which does not proceed from elemental laws and therefore contains parasites within itself; and spirituality that comes down from above and as it enters into civilization is taken up by man in such a way that it becomes poison. When you bear this in mind you have the key to the most important symptoms of modern civilization.
"This is all well and good," you might be thinking, dear Reader, "but why doesn't Rudolf Steiner offer a solution to the problems he raises?" If that question or one like it arose in your mind, perhaps you are unaware that one of the medicines for what ails civilization that Steiner proposed was right-thinking education. He actually created a form of education which bypasses the entire process of parasitic poisoning mentioned above. He gave a lecture on education to the workers at the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory in Stuttgart, Germany and after the lecture the workers and managers asked him to start a school for their children which operated on those principles he had expounded. That led to the founding of the Waldorf Schools which now operate around the globe, in greater and greater numbers every year. (In Australia they are known as Steiner Schools.)
[page 215, 216] And when one has insight into these things, the necessary educational aspect will, of its own accord, reveal itself as the right medicine for our civilization. Just as a rational therapy evolves from a true diagnosis, a true pathology of the individual, so a diagnosis of the sickness of a civilization reveals the remedy; the one calls forth the other.
It is very evident that mankind today again needs a kind of civilization that comes really close to the human heart and the human soul, and springs directly from the human heart and the human soul. If a child, on entering primary school, is introduced to a highly sophisticated system of letter forms which he has to learn as a . . . b . . . c, etc., he does not relate to this in heart and soul. He has no relation to them at all. What the child develops in his head, in his heart and soul, by having to learn a . .. b . .. c, is — spiritually speaking — a parasite in human nature.
During his years of education a great deal is brought to the child of this parasitic nature. We must, therefore, develop an art of education that works creatively from his soul. We must let the child give form to colors; and the color forms that have arisen out of joy, out of disappointment, out of every possible feeling, these he can put on paper: pleasure and pain. When a child puts on paper what arises out of his soul, this develops his humanity. This produces nothing parasitic. This is something which grows out of man like his fingers or his nose! — whereas, when the letters of the alphabet, which are the product of advanced civilization, are imposed on the human being, this does engender a parasitic element.
Steiner has given us the diagnosis of the illness that civilization is infected with and now he has also, like a good doctor of medicine, provided the therapy needed. It will come, not in some drug-de-jour as so many cures in the twenty-first century, but in a revolutionary way of teaching our precious children so that the parasitic poisons are eliminated by the very form of education they receive from the youngest age through to high school. Imagine a school system which encourages the teachers to progress through each grade with their pupils, so that they come to know each child individually in a way no mass-produced educational system can ever encourage or deliver. This may sound fanciful and impractical to you if you have never been in a Waldorf School or never had a child in a Waldorf School or known a Waldorf School teacher, but I guarantee you that a comprehensive study of Waldorf Schools will fill you with awe and wonder at the results they produce(16). The best way to discover the benefits of Waldorf School education is to interview mature adults who have had one.
[page 217] The moment the art of education lies close to the human heart, to the human soul, the spiritual can be brought to man without becoming poison. First you have the diagnosis, which finds that our age is infested with carcinomas, and then you have the therapy — yes, it is Waldorf School education.
Waldorf School education is founded upon nothing other than this, my dear friends. Here the thinking about the cultural sphere is the same as that applied in the field of medicine. This is the specific application of what I spoke about a few days ago, namely, that the being of man progresses to the development of the spiritual from below upwards, from nutrition through healing, and that one must regard education as medicine transposed into the realm of mind and spirit. This strikes us with particular clarity when we wish to find a therapy for civilization, for we can only conceive this therapy as being Waldorf School education.You will readily be able to imagine the feelings of one who not only has insight into this situation, but who is also trying to develop Waldorf School education in a practical way, when he sees the general effect of this carcinoma of civilization giving rise to conditions in Central Europe that may seriously endanger this Waldorf School education, or even make it altogether impossible. We should not reject such thoughts as these, but rather make them the impulse within ourselves to work together wherever we still can in the therapy of our civilization.
If some parent has had a problem with a modern Waldorf School, most likely that person was educated in a state or private school that did not use the Waldorf principles and they are filled with the same kind of parasitic and poisonous thinking that the Waldorf system strives to eliminate from the children who will lead the next generation of our civilization. In them lie our best hope for curing the illnesses of civilization — of extirpating them, pulling them out at its roots — and those roots grow in the great majority of our children of today, up until now. It is up to each one of us to ensure that our children's education will be free of the parasitic and poisonous ways of thinking from now on.
Hopefully this review will prompt you to read the entire book. As a reviewer, I can only serve up a sampling of the full banquet this book contains. Taste these morsels and if they go down well with you, you may wish to buy a ticket to the feast. If so, you can become part of the great endeavor of our time: changing civilization one person at a time!
---------- Footnotes -------------
Footnote 0. The word pixilated is an early American expression, derived from the word 'pixies,' meaning elves or elemental spirits. People used to say, 'The pixies had got him,' as today we would say a man is 'weird.' Note the ambiguity: 'writing with pixels' could be called using 'pixilated ink'.Return to text directly before Footnote 0.
Footnote 1. This drawing and the other colored drawings in this review were drawn by Rudolf Steiner's own hand on black paper with colored chalk on the date shown in the bottom of the drawing, e. g., 19 Oct 1923 for this one. These color reproductions are assembled in one book, Rudolf Steiner Blackboard Drawings 1919-1924, and by matching the dates of the lectures and the plates, I was able to locate the color plate from which the ink drawings were produced in a book of lectures such as this one.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
~~~~~~~~~~~~Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3. Presumably so-called 'superior' and 'inferior' planets. — Ed. [RJM Note: In a geocentric display of the Solar system, the order from Earth outwards is Moon, Venus, Mercury, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Historically Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are called superior planets, and Venus, Mercury, and Moon, inferior planets. Note that the names of Venus and Mercury are reversed from their accepted astronomical naming order. Steiner acknowledges this in the cryptic parenthetical sentence: "I am drawing this in the sequence customary today in astronomy; I could also draw it differently." ]Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
~~~~~~~~~~~~Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
Footnote 5. The lectures are published in the book entitled, Man in the Past, Present and Future and The Sun-Initiation and Moon Science of the Druid Priest, and abbreviated MSDP.Return to text directly before Footnote 5.
Footnote 6. Steiner said in Nutritions and Stimulants that coffee is the drink of journalists and writer because the nitrogen in caffeine contains the forces necessary to dissolve any excess brain sand.Return to text directly before Footnote 6.
Footnote 7. Spirit-man In his Gospel of Matthew lectures, Steiner said (page 189) "This blossoming flower of one's 'Son of Man' reaches up to the spiritual world to the Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, and Spirit-Man that together stream down towards one." In Angels — Selected Lectures, Steiner explains these three future developments of humankind as follows: (Excerpt of my summary from review) "In Lecture 2. The Three Encounters, Steiner tells us that the three future stages of development of humans will be Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, and Spirit-Man in three stages of post-Earth evolution, namely Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan. The first encounter with our Spirit-Self occurs during the cycle of the day, the second with our Life-Spirit during the cycle of the year, and the third with our Spirit-Man during the cycle of our lifetime. These three meetings are described in detail in my review of Cosmic and Human Metamorphoses. Considered in another way, they are, firstly, the diurnal meetings with our Genius; secondly, our annual meeting with our Life-Spirit which depends on the nearness of Christ during the period between Christmas and Easter; and, thirdly, our once in a lifetime meeting with our Spirit-Man or Father-Principle sometime between our 28th and 42nd year."
Return to text directly before Footnote 7.
Footnote 8. In the fairy tale "Snow White" each of the seven dwarves were given a name and it occurs to me that each of these names may illustrate a feature of the gnomes or root spirits. The one named Happy would see the underground as his playground. Return to text directly before Footnote 8.
Footnote 9. This would be the attribute of the dwarf named Doc, who wore eyeglasses and bore a studious look.Return to text directly before Footnote 9.
Footnote 10. This dwarf might be the one called Sleepy.Return to text directly before Footnote 10.
Footnote 11. A structure at the heart of the flower, consisting of the ovary containing the ovules, and the style bearing the stigma. In botanical works usually referred to as 'the female reproductive organ of flowering plants'.Footnote on page 119 by the Translator.Return to text directly before Footnote 11.
Footnote 12. One cannot read this without thinking of the many impolite but expressive idioms which link products of elimination and our brain and thoughts.Return to text directly before Footnote 12.
Footnote 13. There has been a tendency in recent decades for chemical companies to believe that they can produce a better baby formula than the child's own mother in her breast milk. This belief is based on the erroneous assumption that Steiner reveals above. The evidence derived from switching poor countries in Africa from mother's milk to chemist-designed baby formulas seems to prove the companies wrong and Steiner right.Return to text directly before Footnote 13.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ Return to text directly before Footnote 14.
Footnote 15. In these lectures in Vienna in April 1914 published in The Inner Nature of Man and Our Life Between Death and Rebirth. Rudolf Steiner Press/UK in 1994.
Return to text directly before Footnote 15.
Footnote 16. One caveat: there are parasitic people who bring their children to Waldorf Schools and then see all kinds of problems because they basically misunderstand the principles laid down by Rudolf Steiner and create problems which they publicly and vociferously complain about.
One should not be put off from investigating Waldorf education simply because of half-truths spread by certain well-meaning, but poisonous malcontents.
Return to text directly before Footnote 16.
Summary of Medical Courses and Review Links
Latest editions as of 2014 (From Editor's Preface of GA314)
Publisher: RS = Rudolf Steiner Press, SB = SteinerBooks
Bobby Matherne Review Link
Click to Read Link, if underlined as shown in brackets at right: [active].
GA/CW Course Name (Publisher Year) [Link]
27 Extending Practical Medicine, GA# 27 (RS 1996) [epmrvw]
107 Disease, Karma and Healing (RS 2013) [diskarhe]
230 Essentials for the Healing of Civilization (RS 2001) [harmonyo]
312 Introducing Anthroposophical Medicine (SB 2010) [amedic12]
313 Illness and Therapy (RS 2013) [illnessa]
314 Physiology and Healing (RS 2013) [physheal]
315 Eurythmy Therapy (RS 2009)
316 Understanding Healing (RS Press 2013) [underhea]
317 Education for Special Needs (RS 1998)
318 Broken Vessels (SB 2003) [brokenve]
319 The Healing Process (SB 2000) [healing]
4.) ARJ2: The Eye of Zolta, A Novel, Volume 3, Chronicles of Kazam by Jasper Fforde
Why read a book about magical beasts like the Tralfamosaur? Why not? Fforde writes funny, and the chuckles are worth the read. Like his description of the Tralfamosaur.
[page 1] The Tralfamosaur is about the size and weight of an elephant, has a brain no bigger than a Ping-Pong ball, and can outrun a human. More relevant to anyone trying to catch one, Tralfamosaurs aren't particularly fussy about what they eat. And when they are hungry — which is much of the time — they are even less fussy. A sheep, cow, rubber tire, garden shed, antelope, smallish automobile, or human would go down equally well. In short, the Tralfamosaur is a lot like a Tyrannosaurus rex, but without the sunny disposition.
If you got a chuckle, read on, if not watch out! There may be a Tralfamosaur nearby looking for a quick snack.
What happens when magic fades, like it has in the Ununited Kingdoms? Well, it's a bit like when NFL linemen hit the age of 35 and are relegated to doing toothpaste commercials.
[page 2] The problem is that in the past half century, magic has faded, so we are really down to finding lost shoes, rewiring houses, unblocking drains, and getting cats out of trees. It's a bit demeaning for the once-mighty sorcerers who work for us, but it's paid work.
What is magic anyway? Fforde offers us a comprehensive definition, one Harry Potter might agree with.
[page 2, 3] Magic swirls about us like an invisible fog of emotional energy that can be tapped by those skilled in the mystical arts, and then channeled into a concentrated burst of energy from the tips of the index fingers. The technical name for magic is variable electro-gravitational mutable sub-atomic force, but the usual term is wizidrical energy, or, simply, crackle.
Our heroine, as you may recall is named Jennifer Strange, an orphan who took over Kazam from the Great Zambini who disappeared like Rice Krispies in a hungry teenager's bowl, with a Snap! Crackle! and Pop! and — no explanation at all. So, here's the back story to get us all, old and new readers, up to date on what's crackling at Kazam as this story begins.
[page 3] So there I was, assistant to the Great Zambini, learning well and working hard, when Zambini disappeared, quite literally, in a puff of smoke. He didn't return, or at least not for anything but a few minutes at a time and often in random locations, so I took over the running the company at age fifteen. Okay, that was a biggie, but I coped and, long story short, I saved dragons from extinction, averted war between the nations of Snodd and Brecon, and helped the power of magic begin to reestablish itself.
But, as we learned first from the Wizard of Oz, wizards are not all-wise, and are often bumbling idiots, and Jennifer echoes this sentiment from her long year of experience with the wizards that worked for Kazam, such as the Once Magnificent Boo.
[page 4] If you think wizards are all wise purveyors of the mystical arts and have sparkling energy streaming from their fingertips, think again. They are for the most part undisciplined, infantile, argumentative, and infuriating; their magic only works when they really concentrate, which isn't that often, and misspellings are common. But when it works, a well-spelled feat of magic is the most wondrous thing to behold, like your favorite book, painting music, and movie all at the same time, with chocolate and a meaningful hug from someone you love thrown in for good measure. So despite everything, it's a good business in which to work. Besides, there's rarely a dull moment.
Jennifer could be easily describing the novels of Jasper Fforde which are all well-spelled feats of magic with rarely a dull moment. As with a bag of potato chips, one cannot just read one chapter of a Jasper Fforde novel; one reads until the last page of the book, like the last chip in the bag, has been devoured. Her cohort, Tiger, is younger than she is.
[page 6] Tiger was twelve and, like me, a foundling. He was stuck at Kazam for four years and after that could apply for citizenship or earn it fighting in the next Troll War, which probably wouldn't be far off. Troll Wars were like Batman movies: both were repeated at regular intervals, featured expensive hardware, and were broadly predictable.
Our two heroes are going out on a Tralfamosaur hunt in the Cambrian Empire which "made good money out of what it called jeopardy tourism: vacations for those seeking life-threatening situations." (Page 8) Does that sound familiar to our own times? Perhaps it is the modern, super-safety conscious, seatbelts and baby seats, airbags, and smoke-free environments which are the root cause of such thrill-seeking expeditions which have replaced just plain living spiced up by a bit of street drag racing as jeopardy sports.
Speaking of driving irresponsibly, read how driver's licenses are granted in the Ununited Kingdom.
[page 11, 12] The Kingdom of Snodd grants driver's licenses on the basis of responsibility, not age, which can frustrate forty-something guys no end when they fail their responsibility test for the umpteenth time.
In a typical Troll War battle, huge multi-story armored tanks filled with human soldiers were sent into battle against the Trolls, "who impertinently called them Meals on Wheels." (Page 14)
The very concept of snail mail being slow compared to email is inverted by Fforde-crackle as he imagines snails used as homing pigeons, only much faster. But it is the way the spell was created to make snails so fast that is funny.
[page 17] We jumped as a snail shot in through the open window and skidded to a halt inside the windshield, leaving a slippery trail across the glass. Homing snails were one of wizard Moobin's recent discoveries. He had found that all snails have the capacity to do over one hundred miles per hour and find a location with pinpoint accuracy, but didn't because they were horribly lazy and couldn't be bothered. By rewriting a motivating spell commonly used by TV fitness instructors, communication by homing snail was entirely possible — and snails were more reliable than pigeons, which were easily distracted.
Whatever has happened to our good old word, whatever? It used to have only its dictionary meanings, like, anything at all that, or all that which, or at all, or no matter what but it has now morphed into an adjective for existential angst, it seems, besetting even princesses. Take this example from when the King is talking to his daughter.
[page 39] He turned to the princess, waiting for her homework to be completed for her."Peaches, would you come over here, please?"
"What now?" The princess rolled her eyes in a whatever sort of way.
I am embarrassed to admit that I know exactly what that look is, as any teenage daughter in the 21st Century learns that look by age 12 and is expert at it before their first baby-sitting gig. I heard that being a father of a girl is fifteen years of aggravation for one year of baby-sitting. That is, if you're lucky.
Princesses, like any teenage daughter these days, are in for surprises in life before they reach twenty-one, such as happened to the real princess in this novel who accompanies our heroes on a road trip and sees a billboard for the first time. The princess speaks and Jennifer answers.
[page 52] "I don't usually see much beyond the castle walls," she said in a quiet voice. "What's that?"
"It's a billboard, advertising toothpaste."
"Doesn't it come already squeezed onto your toothbrush each morning?"
"No, it doesn't."
"Really? So how does it get from the tube to the toothbrush?"
Reminds me of my grandkids raised in a rich family who refused to eat a large sweet blackberry I picked for them (they didn't seem to know how it got into one's hand). Seems food had to come already wrapped in plastic from a Kroger's Supermarket. Hopefully, like the Princess, their adventures outside the castle will enlighten them to such things, like, e. g., the blackberries so carefully wrapped for Kroger's are hand-picked by Mexican laborers.
Some of the magic spells seem to make a lot of sense, and maybe some have already been performed, like this one, which the Mighty Shandar is considering for implementation.
[page 61] The Mighty Shandar pointed to a clause in one of the notes he was looking at. "Are we sure about this?"
"Yes, sir," replied D'Argento. "They want the state of Hawaii moved to the middle of the Pacific."
"I thought it was fine between Montana and North Dakota."
"The venerable Lord Jack of Hawaii requested the move on account of the climate — and they want to retrofit the collective memory so everyone thinks it's always been there."
"Standard stuff," said Shandar. "They didn't quibble over the price?"
"Not a murmur."
At last we meet the Eye of Zoltar, which is described to Jennifer as the object the Mighty Shandar wants her to find for him or he will destroy the last two dragons. It is, he says, "a magnificent pink ruby the size of a goose's egg. It belonged to a wizard I admire greatly. You may find me . . . The Eye of Zoltar." (Page 63) It is the MacGuffin which our crew of magical misfits will chase into the most dangerous territory in the world, against all odds, and attempt to retrieve. Actually the odds are about fifty-fifty, in other words, statistics show that only half of their expedition's crew will survive the "jeopardy adventure." If this were a 60s Star Trek, half the landing party on the foreign planet would be wearing red shirts, as any Trekkie will attest.
A road trip for a Princess can be a dicey experience, such as when she returned holding a roll of toilet paper. "Do I fold it or crumple it before I . . . . you know?"
[page 73] Tiger and I looked at each others.
"Don't give me your silent pity nonsense," said the princess crossly. "It's a huge sacrifice to live without servants, a burden that you pinheads know nothing about. . . . and I think I may be dying. My stomach has a sort of gnawing feeling inside."
"You're hungry," I said simply. "Never felt that before?"
"Me, a princess? Don't be ridiculous."
Did the princess ever do anything for herself at the palace? She admitted that she did her own sleeping. "Usually." (Page 77)
If you have ever bitched about the difficulty of pitching a tent in the wilderness, you would love this enchanted tent "that swore angrily to itself when self-pitching, thus saving you the effort." (Page 93) In other words, it was also a self-bitching tent! One could get hooked on spells like this and soon you'll want stronger and stronger spells, which you can get in a new zork second.
[page 106] After that you'll be always looking for the next spell, and when the spells lose their power you'll be lost, frightened, and bewildered, and your life will tip into a downward spiral of recriminations and despair."
They are greeted by their guide to the treacherous land of Cambria this way:
[page 107] "Welcome, noble traveler and adventurer," said the woman in a long-rehearsed patter, "to the land that health and safety forgot. In these risk-adverse times, the Cambrian Empire is one of the few places where danger is actually dangerous. The possibility of actual death brings fear and excitement to even the most mundane pastimes; the adrenaline surge that comes by cheating death is a wild ride you will wish to repeat time and time again."
When one member of her team, Perkins, who was Jennifer's age, had to do a magical reset of some spells besetting Ralph, two things happened, Perkins aged ten years and Ralph got 1.6 million years younger, turning into an Australopithecine man. Perkins assures Ralph's friend Ignatius that Ralph will evolve back.
 "Evolve back? That's a relief," said Ignatius. "I promised his mother I'd have him home in a week."
Perkins and I exchanged looks.
"It'll take a little longer than a week," I said.
"I suppose we could keep him in a spare room or something," said Ignatius. "How much longer?"
"About 1.6 million years. I'm sorry to say that Ralph will spend the rest of his days as a primitive version of a human. He'll still be Ralph, only with one-third brain capacity, some peculiar habits, and a mostly obsolete skill set. Despite this, he'll pick up a few words and may even learn how to use a spoon."
"Ook," said Ralph, staring at us all with his small dark eyes. He still looked like Ralph, just shorter and hairier and more extinct.
Harry Potter had to deal with Deatheaters, and Jennifer Strange has to deal with Lifesuckers, one of whom performs its feat on a live rabbit which ages, withers , and turns into a dry piece of fur on a skeleton within a minute. Any sign of life will trigger it to pounce again, so Wilson warns everyone.
[page 211] "Shh!" whispered Wilson. "It's strongest when freshly nourished. It will be hunting for more prey — I've seen one take an entire herd of sheep before collapsing into a gorged stupor. If you can push anything charismatic and life confirming to the back of your mind and fill your head with utter banality, now's the time to do it."
"How do I do that?"
"I usually start with daytime TV, and then work my way down through celebrity biographies to international road aggregate trade agreements."
You'll notice I haven't mentioned much about the plot — there is a good one, but best discovered on one's own as one giggles through the minefield of hilarious folderol laid down by Fforde for us readers. Like this one:
[page 275] We paid for the tea and scones and made our way toward All Rise, the combined bakery/courthouse, to take our seats for the trial.
Remember Perkins who gets older when he casts a spell, well, he has to cast a bunch more spells and gets much older, so Wilson tells consoles him saying, "with age comes wisdom."
[page 294] "I think wisdom comes with years, not age," replied Perkins sadly. "I've managed to separate the two. I think I'm going to be old without wisdom."
"If that is the case," said Wilson, "you won't be alone."
We'll skip over Saint Aosbczkcs, the Patron Saint of Fading Relevance, who I doubt is also not alone, (Page 295) get right to matter of drone army which springs to life when anyone tries to leave the area our heroes had to enter in search of the pinkeye, I mean, the Pink Eye of Zoltar. Perkins demonstrated his discovery which would keep them alive, although trapped.
[page 315] "See that bundle of drone clothes over there?" he called. "Watch."
He took another six steps, and the bundle of clothes sprang to life like a jack-in-the-box. Stacked in the vertical order they hung on the body, the clothes moved with a slick liquidity: pile of empty clothes one moment, lethal killing machine the next. The drone drew a sword that had been buried up to its hilt in the ground and brandished it menacingly.
When they find the pirate, Bunny Wolff, who was supposed to possess the Eye of Zoltar, she had been turned to lead, and Jennifer observes the position of Wolff's hand indicated that the Eye had been pried, NRA-style, from her cold, lead fingers!
Running low on puns and magical ploys, Fforde winds the story down to an end which leaves open the possibility of another sequel, after he has cast his net into the great Text Sea to refuel his stock.
You will want to know how Perkins managed to defeat the Hollow Men (the killer drones), and you will not be disappointed with his efficacious method when you read the book. Will the Eye of Zoltar ever come to light, or will it be, like the H-Bomb, too dangerous to ever be used? Will Colin, one of the two remaining dragons, the one turned into rubber in a magic spell, ever become unvulcanized? Will Jennifer be re-united with her Volkswagen Bug, the cradle in which she was found when she became a foundling in the first place? Will Perkins be too old, but not too wise for Jennifer? Will other Strange adventures in the offing for the next volume in this series. Stay tuned to this same Quark Channel, same Quark time, to find out.
Read/Print the Review at:
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to converse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.1. Padre Filius walks through French Quarter of New Orleans this Month:
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share with us some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre Observes an Artwork in Progress in a Shop Window:
2. Comments from Readers:
NOTE: I love hearing from all my Good Readers and including your missives here (slightly edited).
If you prefer any comments or photos you send to be private, simply say so and they will not be published.
- EMAIL from grandson Walden:
As some of you might know, I am on the Francis Drake mountain bike team. I am currently working hard to raise money for others who are less fortunate than myself. This means a lot to me because I know several people who can't afford to pay for the registration, and any donations would really help them out!
Please check out: My Page.
I'd love for you to follow my progress or pass this on to your friends or business contacts who might be interested in either sponsoring us or helping spread the word about my fundraiser.
Thank you for your support. It means so much to me.
- EMAIL from Tony Spatafora:
Bobby,Thanks for sending. It'll be a while before I get through it all, but you and Del don't seem to age. I, as you know, particularly enjoy the pictures of the flowers and animals, even the snake. The caterpillar is nice too, but my favorite is the toilet! [Tony's referring to the Eleanor Outhouse , designed by Mrs. FDR in the 1930s for improving rural sanitation in America.]
EMAIL from Dan in Charlotte, NC:
Another good digest. Keep'em coming.
Great photo of our house could you please send a scan.
We love you guys,
EMAIL from Kaisu in Finland: Dear Bobby,
I can wellcome you, I myself got a surprise Halloween-visit: Jorma's Heidis from Helsinki.
I would have liked to be a little bit prepared! She also ordered my computer settings which had tormented me weeks — and marked with index that button I especially must look out!
The boys in halloween equipments were frightening but I have the situation in hand to be enough surprised. So the children will be delighted!
EMAIL from Jim Webb:
Dear Bobby and Del,
Got the news letter and thank you for it and your insights. I came back to NO for a couple of weeks. Hope to see you soon.
My love to you and Del,
EMAIL re: "Surprise PTSD doyle" from Chris Bryant in Corpus Christi, Texas:
This morning I had one of my can't-breathe or closed-in doyles. I'm used to them being centered around the time of my birth or even before birth. So I was surprised when I got a spike at age 41 as I traced backwards today. After a little thought I remembered that during the winter I was 41 we lived on a ranch in rural New Mexico. That winter I had a very prolonged respiratory illness. In fact for one three day period we were stuck out there and I didn't have any of my "puffers". There was a time or two I thought I wasn't going to make it. As it was 20 years ago I hadn't thought about it for years, so I was quite surprised when my doyle spiked at 41.
I thought about you yesterday and all the time and effort you invested in Carla and me. I tried to extrapolate that across all the folks you've met because of doyletics and I was awed. On behalf of all of us, Thank You!
3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:"The Pledge of Freedom"
Give me your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free and I will give them taxes, regulations, restrictions, and every manner of unfairness ever created by persons saddled with the illusion that they can decide what is best for someone else's welfare.
The individual, like the business professional, knows what's best in a given situation and, given the freedom, will take that action.
The forces of coercion are prying open the shell that contains the living muscle and spirit of the American people.
Will we resist those forces and keep our muscles and spirit alive, free to open at will, or will we give up like the oyster and settle for "freedom on the half shell?"
Here is another poem from Freedom on the Half Shell, a reframing of the current pledge which was written by a French Socialist writer:
4. Hmmm is the sound of an unanswered question
The Pledge of Freedom
I pledge allegiance to this Land
and to the Freedom for which it stands,
One Country Under God,
with Liberty and Justice for All.
5. What Do People in Turkey Eat on Thanksgiving?
Nov. 12, 2014: Hmmm is the sound of an unanswered question. This occurred to me one morning. I have for some time written Hmmm in the margin of a book when I encountered a passage whose meaning was important, but which was unclear to me at the time. Scribbling a barely decipherable Hmmm indicated that puzzling aspect in my mind.
Now, I have come to recognize that it was my symbol, my glyph, for an "unanswered question", and saying that "Hmmm is the sound of the unanswered question" enables you and me, Dear Reader, to recognize the audible signal that another person is holding an unanswered question.
People who say, "Hmmm", are people who hold unanswered questions; people who always say what pops out of their mouth without passing through their mind rarely ever say "Hmmm", and just as rarely ever discover the power of an unanswered question, up until now.
That question never occurred to me until a friend of mine married a gal in Turkey and brought her to the United States. This was to be her first ever Thanksgiving Day in America, so I asked him whether people in Turkey ate turkey. "Yes", he said, "but they call the same bird a Hindi." This leads me to recall that the turkey almost became the bird on the Great Seal of the USA, as Ben Franklin proposed such a seal.
Now, who today would want the turkey to be the symbol of the USA? A skeptic might have said it would be appropriate because there are so many turkeys in Congress and politics in all 50 states, but consider this: if Franklin had won out, the turkey would not be a derogatory symbol, one attached to idiotic behavior at all levels, because it would be honored in all the ways the American Eagle is honored today, on coins, on emblems, and seals everywhere. The American Turkey would be an honored and respected symbol, and perhaps the NFL team would be called the Philadelphia Turkeys, and proudly so.
Upper right is the Great Seal of the USA which Ben Franklin proposed using the Turkey. Great drumsticks, don't you think?
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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