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by Rev Reingard Knausenberger
What underlies the basic human existential need to be seen, to be heard, to be touched?
We are born into this world, which is a sensual world. The body we receive as our own is a finely-tuned sense organisation. Like buds opening, the chorus of twelve sense organs unfolds as the child’s body grows, the youth’s soul expands and the adult awakens evermore into unique selfhood. Our senses are the doorways which open us to engage and interact with the world around us. By nature, every human being is a sensualist.
The world-view of Sensualism as a philosophy, on the other hand, sees the human being purely as a sensual being and takes this view very seriously, sometimes to the extreme. Although the philosophy has many aspects and complexities, its basic parameter is clear:
‘I and the world are only the result of our sensory experiences’.
A sensualist in this way experiences their own senses so strongly that there can be no consideration of the world conveying anything ‘objective’. Everything is there only because of my senses.
Here it becomes clear how restrictive and exclusive a world view can become if it is declared to be the one and only valid one, but also how its contribution is highlighted, enhanced and enriched if experienced within the wholeness of the twelve world views.
It is through our senses that we ‘make sense’ of the world, they bring the light of meaning and warmth of fulfilment into our life, therefore becoming the basis for self-awareness and developing consciousness of being a Self. They are the central base from which we reach out and develop relationships with the periphery.
Christianity is the “the belief, that loves the earth” (as an inspired book title said). That means this earth which we can see, touch, feel, hear…the earth is made to meet all of our senses, our senses are there to meet the world. No wonder that the Gospels are full of everyday images, no wonder that the Creator came into his creation to teach us the full potential of our sense organisation. ‘A sower went out to sow his seed…’, depending on how we look, listen, come into an exchange with the earth and each other, our separateness is overcome and we are released out of isolation into a new enriched connectedness. When Jesus calls the children to be brought to him, speaks and touches them, how would he have looked at them, spoken to them? What would have remained in these children that touched their core, never to be forgotten again; what kind of affirmation of their being would he have given through this encounter? In this we have an expression of the gesture that emanates from Christ continually even today: Come. I see you. I hear you. Let your heart be touched by me.
The spiritual world always ‘sees’ us, but it is through the new spiritual Coming closer of Christ in our time, that human beings today are sensitised to the fact that the physical senses can be transformed into spiritual senses. Therefore, a deeper longing for ‘being seen and heard and embraced for who I am’ is awakened in us. Maybe it is also Christ who has this same longing towards us, too? Our sensual nature defines separateness, and yet it can also create connectedness and lasting relationship.
by Rev. Reingard Knausenberge
For the past 30 years I have been noticing a tree which began to grow on a large rock inconveniently situated alongside a busy two-lane road linking two major traffic arteries in Rivonia, Johannesburg. During the lock-down in April I finally saw my chance to take a photo of it. I could stand in the middle of the road and take my time really visiting this astounding tree. As a young vulnerable sapling it survived our long dry winters and also some dry summers. The tree was once even chopped down, –but see how it has grown again in full strength. The root has split the rock and who knows how deep it reaches. The possibility to grow up again lay in its roots. Whenever I mention this tree, everyone always knows it! It hasn’t physically moved from its spot, but it has moved many hearts.
Especially now in this time of a world being thrown into uncertainty and confusion, the resilience and steadfastness of this tree has struck me as a visionary image. What if we could do that, accept: here I am, this is my place, this is where destiny unfolds for me, and I send down my roots right here. My whole life has a focus: to be present, here where I am, now. This is what I was born for. I am in the right place at the right time. No matter what the resistances, I can adjust and strengthen my presence. What anchors me in the depth of my being is what matters to keep on growing. This is commitment. This is active faith.
This is a ‘tree message’ also to us as community, here in Johannesburg. Our congregation is deeply alive and rooted, even if what is above ground can look weak and vulnerable. Now is the time to ignite our spiritual potential anew and awaken more deeply – and connect to the power of the Christ-Life we are anchored in, to this deep-rooted healing power of the sacraments which give meaning, direction and energy to deal with adverse circumstances; to be aware of the exponential ability to magnify this power through the common inner focus of being part of a greater community, from local, to region, to continent, to world embrace.
This is what a tree does: it grows from the core upward and outward by strengthening its roots. We can do that, too, as a conscious community celebrating the Act of Consecration of Man. This is how we will grow as a congregation. This is our task now, in the right place at the right time in this city which needs our presence.
The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn this year is rightly considered ‘the great one’. No encounter of any other visible planets has such a slow measured pace and dominates the night sky over a period of many years. It is the mightiest of all encounters in our solar system. Approximately every 19,86 years Jupiter and Saturn encounter each other, so that every ten years they stand together and then opposite each other—a ten-year pulse in our solar system. …This year Jupiter and Saturn meet in the space transitioning between Capricorn and Sagittarius. The last time they met in this area of the zodiac like this was in the year 1107.
At Easter this year the three outer planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were within a span of only 8° from each other in the northern morning skies, with Jupiter and Saturn only 5° apart. Their close and impressive proximity to each other was a prelude for the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn at Christmastide this year. As such, Easter and Christmas are bound together this year. Now in winter and into spring, like taking a last deep breath before the great meeting, is the loop movement of both planets. Jupiter releases itself out of the close proximity to Saturn a last time. It is interesting to observe now in the evening sky, if and how the new distance of 8° between the two, still seem as if they are a double star like in May when they were only 5° apart. Delightful, though, is that the gap between the two journeyers swings within the space between the two constellations of Sagittarius and Capricorn. It is like a planetary interval within the stellar interval: a gap within a gap which they create.
This is the drama we can observe throughout the winter nights as they move from evening north-east to midnight in the north and morning north-west. Saturn ends its retrograde loop on Michaelmas day, 29th September, while Jupiter ends its loop on 13th September. It is like a pause before both planets begin their renewed movement towards each other first slowly, then ever more clearly noticeable: both heading towards the great conjunction. It is worthwhile looking up into the north eastern evening sky during the next three months and follow how these two giants on the periphery of our solar system ‘reach out’ towards each other. During this sojourn the constellation moves towards the north western horizon. The two flanking zodiac images of Sagittarius and Capricorn will pale, while only Jupiter and Saturn remain visible like a double star in the fading evening light.
Thus the weeks of Advent take on a double meaning. It is not only about the arrival and birth of God, but also the conjunction of the two planets. They stand as two principles which can be ‘read’ clearly, because they are standing so close side by side. Jupiter’s light shines out brightly, extroverted, while Saturn’s light is drawn inward, introverted. Jupiter as the planet of order and power of thinking and Saturn as the planet of memory and maturing: two principles, which together epitomise what is Christian, are united in this conjunction. Just like Christ continuously refers back to the Old Testament and Jewish tradition while also separating himself from them as a new step (“Yet I say to you…”), so does Saturn represent history and Jupiter the present.
The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn has a Christian signature. In different ways, not least of all that Johannes Kepler understood the threefold conjunction of the two in the year 7 B.C. as the Star of the Wise Men. The great conjunction is not only an event of Jupiter and Saturn, but also of earth and sun and—with Pluto—the furthest periphery. It also orchestrates Mars and Venus. Mars is doing its loop in Pisces, the zodiac sign which like none other became a symbol of Christianity. The threefold conjunction of 7 B.C. occurred in this sign. Mars, the planet of energy and vigour, is active in this sign of carefully questioning and tentative feeling into…also this belongs to this year 2020.
And finally Venus is also lined up: rushing forward this year in an impressive upward rising. While Jupiter and Saturn dominant the evening sky, Venus dominates the morning. High in the sky in the early spring mornings she moves from Cancer and its centre, ‘the crib’ (the open star cluster Presepe), to the ear of wheat in Virgo’s hand: a journey from birth to maturity.
Invisible for the naked eye and only to be seen with a very strong telescope is the far-off small planet Pluto, situated within the span which Jupiter and Saturn create between themselves. Also at the great conjunction on 21st December Pluto will be there. Maybe this is an image indicating that this conjunction on the day of the summer solstice is not just an event of earth and sun, but also an event of the furthest radius of our circumference.
(Reference: Sternkalender 2020/2021, Verlag am Goetheanum, articles by Wolfgang Held, pgs.6/7, 122,124. Translated by R. Knausenberger)
by Rev. Reingard Knausenberger
Anthroposophy laid a new seed, a new impulse. We are still here 100 years later. We survived. Many good impulses splinter, but not with us. We have a power to overcome. We must trust this power and live it. We also have to seriously ask if we are representative of our city. Where are our own deficits? Can we consciously work at it? The challenge is to change before we die. The new founding has already started. We have to take a new step. It arrives at the altar to meet us, but we must want it. This year should teach us that we can trust this relationship. Lockdown is an experience, a growing awareness of what substance we can generate; a web of light, a Christ flow, to live it. Our task now is to take a new step into being founders. Christ seeds the “I” into the human soul with the baptism in the Jordan. This is the new seed we need to nurture.
by Eva Knausenberger
Obviously behind every mask is a human face, its features half-hidden. I haven’t managed to imagine a priest celebrating and wearing a mask; it simply doesn’t work. Hidden from view under the mask are physical sense organs, without which life is not possible as we know it, like breathing, speaking, smelling, hearing clearly, seeing what is hidden, judging, cognition, recognition, etc. A mask impedes the flow of life-giving energies; it also makes us non-communicative – for fear of contagion and increases autism and depressions of all kinds.
Rudolf Steiner links the flow of air and breathing in and out to our astral body, our soul’s feeling life. (GA 202, lectures 10,11,12) and thence to our ‘I am’ development. But that is not what I want to write about, rather I want to address what is unmasked, robbed of its mask so to speak, for all to see, now during the Covid crisis.
Unmasking arises when all can see what has long been ignored, hidden, or suppressed, all that is wrong, is immoral, neglected, abused and has been for a long time. We have no immune system in place to combat it by physical means. It can’t be fixed by a vaccination; it creates a cemetery for moral behaviour, moral thinking, and love-seeking soul life.
Widerstandskräfte (resistance forces), Aufbaukräfte (forces that build up) are descriptive words for the immune system; it means “powers or strength to stand upright in the storms and rebuild what has been shattered”. And that is, as far as I can tell, the task now in this time of crisis, namely, to also ‘unmask’ so to speak what keeps us alive and healthy physically, mentally and spiritually, to recognise what is worth saving, and what is supportive of healing, how to use our energy and finances so that the Good may endure rather than to combat the “Wrong”. I think we can never be thankful enough for the healing medicine given to us with the Act of Consecration of Man.
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