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From the book The Nature of Substance: Spirit and Matter by Dr Hauschka
Alkalis and Halogens
The largest, most inexhaustible source of salt is the ocean, where the percentage of dissolved salt is 3% or more. This salt is extracted by a panning or refining process in which the evaporation surface is increased and the sea water subjected either to concentration or to evaporation. Similar processes have been carried out by nature when, in the course of earth’s evolution, a catastrophe or other geological event made an inland sea of some part of the ocean. This is the origin of salt deposits. There are many spots in Europe where such deposits have been found, often enclosed by layers of rock. Nearby towns sometimes got their names from this proximity — for example, Salzburg, Halle (The German ‘Hall’ means ‘salt’) on the Saal, Reichenhall, Hallstatt, Hall in the Tyrol, Leopoldshall, Schweizerhall, and so on. One of the largest salt deposits is at Stassfurt, Anhalt.
Geologists have reckoned that the amount of salt contained in the ocean would be more than enough to construct all the land now above sea level, including mountain ranges. This means that there is as much salt in the sea as there is solid rock on land.
What do we mean when in chemistry we describe something as a salt?
We have already recognised bases and acids to be a polarity. The base and acid tendencies already noted in lime and silica respectively come to clearest expression in the polarity represented by alkalis and halogens. The harmonising of these polar forces produces salts. Salt is thus a mineralised state of balance between base and acid-forming forces, between alkali and halogen.
When seawater, which contains common salt in a proportion of one hundred parts to approximately two of potassium salts, is evaporated, the lighter potassium salts stay in solution longer than the common salt does. They then form a layer only a few metres thick on top of the salt deposits, which at Stassfurt reach a depth of nine hundred metres. This top layer had to be removed to get at the common salt below – at that time the only part that was considered valuable. This gave the potassium salts their name of waste-salts.
Sodium, potassium, and a few other rarer bases, such as lithium, rubidium and caesium, are all called alkalis, and they are chemically and physically very closely related. One special characteristic of all the alkalis stands out in the following experiment:
Some metal salt, such as copper sulphate or silver nitrate, is carefully dropped into an alkali solution. The drops do not immediately merge with the solution, but keep to their drop-form, enclosed by delicate, veil-like skins. Often they dissolve slowly into a colloidal system, particularly in the presence of ‘protective colloids’ such as proteins. Colloidal solutions, as we know, are especially prone to surface tension. One can picture them as liquids with tiny droplets or particles evenly dispersed through them. Every such droplet or particle in these solutions may be described as no longer subject to ordinary earth conditions, for in the colloidal state it has a protective skin that keeps it from combining with other substances. Alkalis, then, have a proclivity to form enclosing sheaths, and the colloidal state may be looked upon as a further development in this direction.
As we know, the body fluids chyle, lymph and blood serum, are colloids, as is the sap that is the lifeblood of the vegetable kingdom. All the up-building processes having to do with growth and nutrition in plants, animals and man alike are maintained by alkaline colloids present in the fluids of the various organs. In plants this alkali is chiefly potassium; in men and animals, soda. Up-building processes in man are localised in the area between the intestines, liver and kidneys. Physiologists and doctors are very familiar with the importance of alkalis for the liver functions. Here, where both in man and animal vegetative processes are especially active, we find potassium, the characteristic plant alkali.
The capacity to form enclosing sheaths is the most significant aspect of alkalis, as may be noted in the case of those used in ordinary daily life. We see this capacity very clearly in the cleaning and laundering properties of alkali compounds. They are especially effective in combination with fats and oils. Soap is just such a combination. It is colloid, and produces an emulsion, foam. What is foam other than a great increase in surfaces? Bubbles of foam envelope objects and particles of dirt, and soften them. A woollen cloth dipped in clear water does not always even get wet. But in soapy water every fibre and each least speck of dirt on it is at once fondly embraced, surrounded, softened and dissolved.
We described oil as condensed cosmic warmth. Soap, which is a boiled mixture of oil and alkali, is thus a carrier of enclosing warmth.
The sheath-forming potentiality of alkalis is not to be equated with silica’s form-creating surface action. Silica is itself a cosmic sheath, whereas alkalis are simply earthly sheaths that enclose whatever comes into their domain.
If one searches for an appropriate picture to express artistically the nature of alkali’s enclosing gestures we come upon the pictures of a maternal organism giving shelter to the child-to-be. What is meant here can be experienced by contemplating the Sistine Madonna. Here we see the mother surrounded by a host of angels, bearing in her arms a child that seems to be one of them. She has wrapped her mantle protectively around it. We feel in the gesture her deep connection with the heavenly powers for which she has provided earthly shelter.
In ancient times, when no one doubted that the terrestrial is always a housing for the spirit, this truth was felt to be pictured in the constellation of Virgo, the virgin. Here could be experienced the sheath-forming powers whence forces of fertility and ripening rayed down to earth.
The sun, which mediates these forces to the earth, passes through the constellation of Virgo in September the season when all vegetative burgeoning is concentrated in the swelling fruit. These fruits harbour the future in the form of seed ripening. We might say that an apple can be seen as a picture of brimming sap confined within a form by the Virgo forces active in the alkali.
Now, let us go on from these explorations of salt’s base-forming aspect to consider its acid-forming aspect.
Our senses provide immediate clues. Most alkalis are thick, even oily-appearing fluids, especially in concentrated form. But acids, especially the halogens, are usually thin and runny, and in their pure form can even be gaseous. Alkalis taken into the mouth seem to be expanding and filling it, while acids are sour and contractive. Alkalis are slimy and slippery to the touch; diluted acids feel astringent.
One can conclude from these experiences that alkalis, like everything hospitable to life, are of a waxing, flowing, expansive nature, while acids are dry, contractive and hostile to growth. In concentrated form, or on longer exposure, they attack other substances aggressively, searing the skin, for example, and making wounds like burns. They break down, burn, or dissolve what comes in contact with them. They are the solvents used on ores and metals. They have a close bond with hydrogen, enhancing its destructive or dissolving fire-force. Alkalis, in contrast, have an affinity with water, or else with oxygen.
Alkalis, then, are passive, receptive, support-giving; acids, positive and active.
These characteristics show up very clearly in connection with colour. All natural plant dyes – litmus, or the juice of some berry or fruit such as cranberry, elderberry or cherry, or a blossom colour – move in the presence of an alkali to the passive, dark side of the spectrum: blue, or violet. The addition of one small drop of an even slightly acid substance makes the colour move toward the active, light side and turn yellow, orange, and red.
Alkalis conduce to the colloidal state. They increase surface area, and enfold things, thus helping life to flourish. Acids are hostile to the colloidal condition and the developments it encourages. They press towards decisive action; they either curdle colloids or reduce them to a true solution. Fresh milk is an example of a colloid. Souring curdles it; it separates into curds and the transparent whey.
The acid-forming agents known as halogens — fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, and their acids, hydrofluoric hydrochloric, hydrobromic and hydriodic acids — are as like each other in character as are the alkalis among themselves.
Chemists are familiar with the similar behaviour of these substances, as is the physicist with their peculiar light reactions. In an earlier chapter we spoke of iodine as a light-thief. This last and densest member of the halogen group manifests its relation to light only in this overwhelming, total — one might almost say brutal — manner. Fluorine, the first and lightest of the halogens, exhibits the phenomenon of fluorescence. Its acid, hydrofluoric acid, is the strongest, chemically speaking. It is such a powerful solvent that it can dissolve glass. We can melt the broken end of a glass rod and round it off by using hydrofluoric acid just as easily as with a Bunsen burner.
This capacity for rounding off can be seen at work in the human organism too, and most clearly in the shaping of the teeth. When a child’s second teeth come through, they sometimes looked jagged and even broken. This is because their surfaces are still unfinished, a condition due to a disturbance of the fluorine or hydrofluoric acid process. Just as the broken end of a glass rod can be melted into a rounded edge, the jagged teeth are rounded off by enamel as they emerge.
Other bodily processes too, are related to the fluorine process. There is an illness in which the development of certain extremities such as the nose, chin, fingers and toes is not rounded off and brought to a close, but continues indefinitely. Here, again, the defining process which should give every last part and form the full working through and rounding off proper to it has not taken hold as it should have done. And the same condition can develop in the digestive tract when food is not properly metabolised and the contents of the intestines are insufficiently worked over and formed. We call it diarrhoea, and its cause may also be sought in a disturbance of the fluorine process. All these cases can be treated with potentised preparations of fluorspar (calcium fluoride), to stimulate the fluorine process.
All organic disturbances affect our thought-life in due course, and the above is no exception. How often we witness an incapacity to ‘think things through’ to draw the necessary conclusions from a train of thought! Loss of memory may be its final consequence.
We see the characteristic activity of the halogens in these processes. It is cosmic activity, pressing urgently toward the conclusion of some train of action, rounding our destiny, as often with destructive violence as with constructive, creative impulses.
The ancients saw these processes proceeding from the constellation of Pisces, the fish. This symbol is not readily understood without reference to its ancient meaning. The four last signs of the Zodiac were pictures of human occupations: Sagittarius is the hunter, Capricorn the animal breeder (with the fishtail picturing the taming of the wild beasts), Aquarius the tiller of the soil, and Pisces the trader on his ocean voyages. The paired fish of Pisces were also a symbol of the feet, and so of travelling. Here we find another indication of the characteristic activity, the moving toward conclusions, the fulfilling of destiny which we have been describing. One does not think out one’s destiny; one ‘walks’ an appointed path. Just as Virgo symbolises the selfless offering of an enclosing sheath within which other life develops, Pisces pictures an active coming to grips with the world and destiny. And like the alkalis and halogens which they create, Virgo and Pisces are antipodes confronting each other from opposite sides of the cosmos.
Receptive love and ego-like activity pour through the heavenly and earthly spheres from these two macrocosmic points of origin, Virgo and Pisces. But their interaction engenders a third force: the Salt of the earth, which in the realm of life stands for the balanced organism; in the realm of the spirit, cosmic evolution.
A brief summary reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The Gospel Study in July considered the first eleven verses of the Gospel of Mark and a seemingly perplexing passage from Matthew’s Gospel in chapter ten. Thereafter a winter break was declared as Michaël would be spending the midweek days in Cape Town until late in August.
Why was the word ‘Gospel’ chosen when these books were written by Evangelists? The word in Latin is ‘Evangelium’ and the English translation could have chosen the word ‘Evangel’ for these books. But the word was too reminiscent of Catholicism for the Protestant King James who decreed the translation of the Bible into English and therefore the Anglo-Saxon word Godspell was chosen instead, and became Gospel. Note the word ‘angel’ in the middle of the word ‘evangelist’. It is a new born message brought by an messenger, an angel.
From Mark 1: 1-11 what was John the Baptist renewing and preparing through the baptism by water? His cry was to prepare the way of the Lord. Who is the ‘Lord’? The Lord is the ruler of one’s innermost self. He urged a complete turn around in all the faculties of soul: the thinking, feeling and actions. The change in the constitution of the human being could occur through the complete immersion in water to the point of asphyxiation that loosened the formative life body. Water also has a connection to the Water of Life, the formative forces. When one looks at bones they appear as if sculpted by water, the Water of Life. The formative life body of humanity was dying as a result of the separation that occurred at the beginning of time. The baptism of John brought about a reconnection.
The grammatical structure of Mark’s writing indicates that it was Jesus who saw the heavens tear open and the Spirit descend like a dove. The man Jesus needed to be opened through the baptism by water to receive the Spirit of Christ into himself. After this baptism, the baptism by water had been accomplished and it was time for the baptism by fire. This is the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus shared the mystery of the “I am” which is the mystery of the Christ, that will grow and develop into the future. The ruler of the inmost self is the one who guides me and is my Lord. The Lord has the power of rulership over me. When I take hold of myself it is through my Lord. The conscience is awakened by the power of my Lord in me. This power of the Christ-in-my is of a tiny lamb. It will not take over. If I do not access it, it will not grow.
The passage of Matthew 10: 24-39 may read as contradictory to our understanding of the mission of Christ. When we understand the sword that separates, as a power to discern; the two-edged sword is the word of discernment. Christ did not come to be accommodating, he demands that we discern ‘yes’ from ‘no’. The peace of Christ comes after the truth has been spoken. The truth may cause division. We will no longer find solace in group identity; we will find the peace of Christ in individuality. The new community of Christ is based on truth and not on family or generational affiliation. We must find responsibility in individuality. The sword is the uprightness of individuality. Truth is discerned through one’s own process.
A brief summary reported by John-Peter Gernaat
In this report only the concluding study of King David is included that looked at him as the writer of the Psalms.
There are one hundred and fifty Psalms of which King David is considered to have written seventy five. The Psalms are poems or songs of praise and may have been accompanied by an instrument when proclaimed. Some of the Psalms were written after the return from the exile in Babylon in which the influence of the Zarathustran religion of Babylon is clearly discernible: “bear me up on Eagle’s wings” and the idea of Sun and Moon.
Possibly the most significant of the Psalms written by David is Psalm 8. It reflects on an important existential and theological question: “what is Man?” We spent some time reflecting on the meaning and significance of the Greek word ‘Anthropos’. The word may be a compound that means ‘man’ and ‘face’ or ‘countenance’, while the prefix ‘an’ suggests ‘up’. Therefore, Man is a being with a countenance and a primary gaze that is upward. This gives rise to the idea that the human being looks up to the heavens and the heavens look down on the human being.
In this Psalm David mentions only stars and moon suggesting that his upward gaze is at night looking at the Divine script of the starry cosmos. David does not write the name of the Divine, using only the reference ‘Lord’. The human being can name everything over which we have been given dominion: all that lives on the earth, in the air above and in the waters below. But the human being does not have dominion over the Divine, and therefore cannot name the Divine.
The Lord to whom David refers is the Elohim YHWH (Yahweh) who represents El (the one true God). When we refer to ‘Lord’ we refer to Christ. Furthermore, the Lordship of Christ has taken up abode in us and is no longer above us.
In Psalm 23 David refers to the Lord as his Shepherd. He understood the practical relationship to sheep. He also understood the transition in the relationship to the constellation from ram to lamb and from the Hired Man to the Shepherd. See the talk given on: “From the rising serpent to the restful lamb”. When we walk the paths of righteousness, we “make straight the way of the Lord” because righteousness belongs to God.
In Psalm 29 David speaks of the seven Great Thunders of God. In Revelation, John hears the Seven Thunders and the voice tells him to make what he hears his own (place the seal of ownership upon the words, do not write them down as if they belong to another). We looked further at the significance of the Thunders and also at the meaning of ‘dominion’ and what our role is.
The main themes in the Psalms of David are:
Who is Lord and how do we relate to the Divine.
Our lordship over the creatures of the earth.
The relationship of Man to Lord.
From the Rising Serpent to the Restful Lamb - transformation of the Formative Force Body by Rev. Michaël Merle
Reported by John-Peter Gernaat
This talk opened the St John’s Conference weekend on the theme The Lamb of God: Consequences of the New Image of the Etheric Christ.
The Formative Force Body is the same as the Etheric Body. It is the body that helps to give a certain life force and form to our human capacity for life on earth.
John the Baptist referred to the Pharisees and Sadducees as ‘a brood of vipers’. Later, John the Baptist says to his disciples when he sees Jesus: “There goes the Lamb of God”. Rudolf Steiner alerts us to a change from the image of the serpent to the image of the lamb. There was a change that occurred in the imaginations of peoples across the globe to move from the image of the rising serpent – the rising force of life – to an imagination of the restful lamb. What Rudolf Steiner points to is that the formative force body of the human being appeared to clairvoyant vision as a rising serpent before the Baptism in the Jordan. The Baptism in the Jordan brought about a significant change in the appearance of the formative life body to (atavistic) clairvoyant vision. The formative life body appeared as a resting (restful) lamb after the Baptism in the Jordan.
Why was the form of the formative life body a rising serpent? How was this experienced for eons before the Baptism in the Jordan? How did the change come about? The change in the way the formative life body appears is very recent and we, as human beings, are still exploring what this means for us.
When we look at the night sky and the constellations of the stars there are two things that become apparent. There is a horizon which is horizontal, but, when we view the movement of the sun against this background of constellations, the sun moves against the background stars along a path that forms a wave to the horizon and passes through the twelve constellations of the zodiac. The path along which the sun moves during the year is called the ecliptic (from the ancient Greek term 'ekleiptikos', meaning 'the path along which eclipses occur'). (If we were able to stand at the centre of the sun and observe the earth orbiting around the sun, we would see that, throughout the course of its orbit, the earth describes a path against the background zodiac constellations - the same path that we see the Sun describe but viewed from the opposite direction. Therefore, as well as being the sun's path against the background stars, the ecliptic can also be considered as the plane of the earth's orbit projected out into space.)
The image that Michaël used was:
The constellations on the ecliptic are the ones that caught the imagination of the ancients, but these are by no means the only constellations in the sky. For this talk there are two serpent constellations to note: Hydra, that begins near Cancer and snakes across the heavens to Libra, and Serpens, which is not of as much importance for this talk. The understanding of the constellation of Hydra predates the Sumerian culture and was not the Hydra of Greek mythology. It was identified as the water snake and it was named Tiamat (the goddess of chaotic waters – the sea). Tiamat was married to the god of the order, the god of the underground waters that gave us the rivers and the freshwater lakes on the surface of the earth. She was also the mother of dragons who gave birth to water serpents and dragons. One of her offspring became known in Babylonian times as the mušḫuššu or mushkhushshu.
The earth rotates around its axis and in its revolving around the sun traces the ecliptic. There is a third movement of the earth through the stars caused by a wobble of the earth on its axis. The axis is always in one of the constellations on the ecliptic. The wobble, known as the precession, moves the axis of the earth through the constellations on the ecliptic in the opposite direction to which the sun appears to move along the ecliptic. It takes about 2500 years for the axis of the earth to move across one constellation and therefore the complete cycle of axial precession through the twelve constellations spans about 25,771.5 years.
(Watch a graphic of the precession:)
In the span of human evolution for which there are records, the earth has moved through Gemini, Taurus, Aries and Pisces. We are still in the age of Pisces despite the musical production ‘Hair’ that would have us entering the Age of Aquarius.
Note the influences of the ram and the sheep in world cultures during the time of Aries, and prior to that the influence of the bull – e.g., the Bull of Heaven in the Sumerian Culture – in world cultures in the time of Taurus, and before that the ideology of twinning in the time of Gemini. Some of the earliest mythology that exists about creation are stories of twins where one twin kills the other twin, one twin is sacrificed, and the other twin uses the body of the sacrificed twin to create the world. The Earth therefore becomes the new twin of the Man. Something shifts in mythology as the precession of the earth’s axis moves into Taurus and then into Aries. The idea of the twin remains but changes to the twin of a man and bull, later to a man and a ram. The twin becomes an animal twin which meant that it was much easier to sacrifice the animal than the human being. Therefore, there was the sacrifice of the bull and then, later, the sacrifice of the ram. The animal that is sacrificed represented the force of the human being. The sacrifice of the bull and, as in the story of Abraham and Isaac, the sacrifice of the ram, remains the imagination of creation through the sacrificing of a twin nature.
Returning to Hydra which spans Cancer (the time of St John’s) to Libra (the time of Michaelmas. Most vipers are ovoviviparous, meaning that the eggs are fertilised and incubate inside the mother and she gives birth to live young. The name viper derives from the Latin meaning ‘live birth’. Vipers are poisonous and were therefore considered guardians. They also remain still until they rise up to attack. They were placed at the entrance to scared places, so that no one could cross the threshold. The image is therefore of the rising serpent as guardian of the sacred. Therefore, to call the Pharisees and Sadducees the guardians of the law and the guardians of the morality and the ethical structure of Judaism was a compliment (“You brood of vipers.”). They were stopping the Hebrews from crossing into the sacred temple. However, through the Baptism the human being becomes ready to cross this threshold into sacred thought and the time of the Pharisees and Sadducees as the guardians was over. When John the Baptists call the Pharisees and Sadducees a brood of vipers, he was calling them out for doing a job that was no longer necessary – they were now blocking the potential development in thought and action in human beings.
A libation vase that is stored in the Louvre in Paris dating back to 2120BCE bears the inscription of the King of Gudea. The libation is offered to a god who was known to the Ancient Sumerians as the ‘Lord of the Good Tree’. This is the first occurrence of an esoteric idea of a tree that is good. “What, were you told not to eat. This tree is good to eat. It will give you discernment. You will know good from not good. You will be like God. It is the tree that is good to eat.” That is how the Tree of the knowledge of All Things is presented in Genesis. This is the imagination in ancient peoples of the Lord of the Good Tree.
The Lord of the Good Tree, on this libation vase is guarded by two rampant mushkhushshus (the name meaning beautiful snake). The Lord of the Good Tree is the staff with its wavy branches and the two-headed serpent that is intertwined with the staff. The name of this god in Sumerian was Ningishzida, to become known as the caduceus. Note the horns on the heads of the mushkhushshus and on the head of the serpents.
The great god of Sumer, Marduk, tamed the mushkhushshu and also tamed Tiamat, the chaotic waters, upon which he walks:
Marduk’s name means the calf bull son of the sun (the sun god Utu). Here we see the notion of being twinned with the bull and also the movement from the adult bull to the calf bull. This should bring to mind the golden calf of Exodus, which was an attempt by the Hebrews to go back to something that had been before, to an old idea, at a time when humanity had already moved away from the influence of the constellation of Taurus and was moving into the constellation of Aries, the Ram, holding a different imagination as a human response to the relationship with the Divine.
The caduceus becomes the Kērykeion – sceptre of Hermes:
The serpents only represent to top of the staff and have become like horns. The symbol of horns remains important in the imagination of people as having something to offer.
A coin from the reign of king Ashoka of India (c. 268 – c. 232 BCE) shows that the symbology was carried by other cultures:
The idea of the rod and intertwined serpents is one that has been carried in the imagination of many peoples for a long time.
The single serpent on a rod is the symbol of healing. It is the rod of Asclepius.
This symbol is also seen in this painting of Moses with the brass serpent and here it is pictured on a cross as precursor for the healing of sin on the cross.
The image of the chakras is accompanied by the idea of a rising energy, a coiled serpent, that the human being endeavours to raise from the base chakra to the crown chakra – the rising of the kundalini. This rising energy is depicted as a healing energy or as an energy of prosperity:
This is a symbol of the Lord of the Good Tree.
The symbol of the rising serpent spiralling up on a rod is seen in images in the Garden of Eden:
The idea of the Lord of the Good Tree prevails across cultures. The serpent in Michelangelo’s depiction of the temptation appears in human form with arms outstretched to represent the branches or wings of the Lord of the Good Tree. The curse of the serpent is that he must crawl and can no longer rise.
The symbol of the serpent is also found in the cultures of ancient South/Central America.
Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god, a plumed serpent, where the plumes are reminiscent of the petals of the lotus flower or the chakras, with horns curled backward like ram’s horns.
In Utah an image of a serpent on a cave wall has clear horns on the head of the serpent.
The bull and the ram have resulted in a human obsession with the meaning of what the horns represent as a spiritual extension that serves as antennae. The spiralled horns were noted earlier on the image of the god Quetzalcoatl.
The move into the constellation of Aries brought new imaginations and a new understanding. When the ancient Sumerians first identified the constellation, they had images that were not the same as the images into which they evolved over time. The images we now associate with the constellations are the final evolution of the images. One example is Scorpio that was initially the constellation of the Eagle. The Eagle eventually flew out of the ecliptic to become Aquilla next to Serpens and the constellation that was originally the Eagle became Scorpio. The Constellation of Aries was originally the constellation of the Hired Man. The Sumerians saw in the constellation of Aries a shepherd’s crook. The Sumerians had a culture of hiring additional labour at harvest time and at lambing season. Therefore, this constellation was of the man willing to be hired for the task. The hired man was twinned with the lamb grown to full strength, the ram. This was, however, not an appropriate spiritual picture because the hired man did not stay around long enough to witness the lamb grow to adulthood and become a ram. Only the True Shepherd witnesses the lamb becoming a ram. The constellation became the constellation of the True Shepherd and the Ram and then the constellation of the Ram. Read John 10: 1-21. Here is a powerful understanding of a spiritual development, an understanding that the hired man is not a true shepherd. This is a picture language of the development of the constellations because the stars are the Divine script. This passage from John identifies that humanity has come into being in connection with the True Shepherd.
When the constellation of Aries became more fixed in the imagination of the ancient cultures after the Sumerians, it became fixed with the ram. There was a particular obsession with the ram’s horns. What grew for the ancient cultures was a connection to the capacity for an organ of perception that would link them to the spiritual world.
In Egypt the notion of the ram of Amon protecting the Pharaoh replaced the concept of the rising serpent that protected the Buddha:
Zeus in Greek depiction is also shown on occasion as bearing ram horns as an evolution of Amon.
In Exodus when Moses is on the mountain the Hebrew fashion a golden calf. The image of the bull in time became younger until it was the image of the calf. The Sumerian god Marduk was known as the calf bull son of the sun. The Hebrews thus fashioned a spiritual image of the past. Moses comes down from the mountain horned.
Earlier sculptures horned Moses like a ram, not like a bull:
Moses came down from the mountain with spiritual organs. He had met something of the Divine Spirit and was in connection with the Divine. He came down from the mountain representing the new picture, that of the ram and no longer the image of the bull calf.
The strongest picture of the birth of the time of Aries is the story of the ram caught in the bushes that Abraham sacrifices to save the life of Isaac. In the ancient mythological idea the ram is the twin of Isaac who is sacrificed for new birth. In the period from Abraham to Moses the shift from the ram to the potential of the lamb has occurred. It is the lamb that is sacrificed so that its blood may be sprinkled on the door posts so that the angel of death passes over the houses thus marked, thereby preserving the potential of the future, the first-born.
An image of a rampant ram caught in a bush excavated from the city of Ur, the home of Abraham. The image dates to 2600BCE and excavated in 1928/9.
The constellation of Aries depicted here with ram superimposed that has almost serpent-like horns representing a rising energy. The ram looks backward.
The picture of the lamb has the same orientation as that of Aries the ram. It is restful with its head turned back. In an image of the Good Shepherd the lamb too has its head turned back.
The constellation of Aries has undergone a movement in the imagination of the ancient cultures from the hired man and the ram to the good shepherd and the lamb. Christ is both the Good Shepherd and the Lamb of God. The twin expressions of the Christ are presented in the image of the Good Shepherd and the Lamb: the human being and the animal representation of the quality of the human being. The quality represented by the lamb, from ancient times, is that of sacrifice. It is not the Good Shepherd we speak of as being sacrificed on the cross but rather the Lamb of God who is sacrificed on the cross.
All the images that are presented here have a connection to the Christian mythology although very few of them are Christian or from the Christian era. They provide an extraordinary insight into the shift that occurs at the time of John the Baptist. The baptism of John which was one of near drowning resulted in the human being rising out of the water into a new experience of life, a new experience of potential and a new experience of future.
Rudolf Steiner indicated that the formative life body no longer appeared as a rising serpent, the kundalini had risen. Our new task is to find the restful lamb. How does the flame of the spirit become drawn into the constitution of the human being, down into chakras to give rise to a vortex with the second half of the chakra rotating in opposite spin to that brought about by the rising life force? In this something comes to birth. There is now a new energy and a new way we can be as human beings. This comes about not only through our own work, lifting the kundalini – eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of All Things; but, we need the power of the Holy Spirit in us to give birth to the lamb in us. It is a power we can work with in order to achieve something for our future. We must care for it, with it, and cooperate with it for this power in us to be active, it is not a power that takes over. Then we can do more, as Paul says, than we could ever hope for or imagine.
John the Baptist asked that the human being change, metanoia, everything, all the faculties of soul, thinking, feeling willing; change their entire constitution because “the Kingdom of God is close at hand”, and it will be born into the human being. The Kingdom of God can only enter when the human being changes. That was John’s message: to prepare. This is why the festival of John is a festival for the future, because it reminds us that the preparation was for our future development. St John’s is not a festival of remembering, it is a festival of the now and the tomorrow. The words ‘change’ and ‘turn around’ have to do with an opening and a possibility for growth and development.
The formative force in us, that forms and informs us, that builds us and sustains us was a rising serpent. This has not gone away but is now matched in the restful lamb, the lamb that bears the Divine in us. This imagery has lived in the mythology and imagination and the concepts of the world for centuries and still lives in our imagination, in our concepts, in our scripture and in our metaphor and in our practical everyday life.
(Editor) The last talk of the St John’s Conference by Rev. Mechtild Oltmann on The Lamb of God: Consequences of the New Image of the Etheric Christ will on this page in time.
Reported by John-Peter Gernaat
This series of talks is divided in the three covering the historical understanding of the Chakra Path, how the Chakra Path has evolved and current movements in the Chakra Path. These talks were presented on 3, 10 and 17 June 2022.
The Chakra system, such as we understand it, is a described as seven wheels. Chakra means wheel in Sanskrit, and these wheels are also referred to as lotus flowers, that exist in the energetic body of the human being. This traditional Chakra system starts at the Root Chakra and ascends to the Crown Chakra that appears above the head. This means that there are six Chakras within the energetic or subtle body and one crowning above the human being. When we go to the ancient scriptures of Hinduism, the Vedic scriptures, we do not find the Chakra system described there as we know it today. The Vedas were written almost as an encyclopaedia of their time, covering everything human beings needed to know about life, from diet to health to an understanding of the Divine. They covered how the human being should manage themselves meditatively and religiously. They were written down as a body of wide knowledge coming from the sages, the Rishis, and had been passed down for centuries before being written down. Then there are the Upanishads; the Upanishads are a commentary and analysis of the Vedas as well as documenting a wide variety of "rites, incarnations, and esoteric knowledge". The Vedas and the Upanishads have been incorporated into the canon of Hindu scripture as have later epics and stories; Hinduism has an incredible capacity for incorporation. The Chakra system that we are familiar with is an interpretation of elements that are described in these scriptural texts. The Chakra system popularly known today is a much later interpretation that translates the wisdom from the Vedas and Upanishads into an understanding for life. The picture that this lecture presents is an interpretation that is archetypal. It must be noted that the aspects that we associate with the Chakra system such as the colours of the Chakra wheels, and in some writings the associated gemstones, date to the 1920s and later.
In the Vedas and Upanishads we learn about four principle yogas in a whole world of different yogas. Yoga comes from a Sanskrit word, Yuj, which means to join. Yoga has something to do with joining the human being back to the Divine. This means that Yuj is the Sanskrit equivalent of the Latin Religare. Religare comes from two Latin sources: re which means again and ligare from which we get ligament; which is to join. Religare thus means to reconnect, re-join or re-bind. From this Latin word we get religion. Therefore, yoga is Sanskrit for religion. The yogas are therefore a path or a way to reconnect.
The first principal yoga is Jñāna yoga which is the path of intellectual discrimination that leads to spiritual realisation. It is the path of the academic; the path of the scribe, of reading and understanding from the reading of other wise sages what the world is all about. This is a path of reconnecting with the Divine through study.
Next, there is the path of Bhakti yoga which is the path of devotion, of personal devotion.
Next, Karma yoga which is the path of action and social service. It is the selfless service to all beings. It is a path of worshipping God by loving one’s neighbour. It is the path of Mother Teresa.
Next, Rāja yoga, which is the path of concentration and meditation. One can see in the young prince Siddhārtha Gautama that it would have been a path that he followed and then deepened to enlightenment as the Buddha. To accomplish Rāja yoga one must practice Hatha yoga which is the stilling of the body. Hatha yoga is a way of aligning the body so as to make it possible to sit and meditate.
For clarity of understanding the Vedas and Upanishads describe three bodies: the gross body or the physical body, a subtle energetic body and a seed body. These bodies can be aligned to different states of consciousness: a fully awake state of consciousness for the physical body, a dreamlike state of consciousness for the subtle body and a deep sleep consciousness for the seed body, which is for the future.
The esoteric Buddhist practice has a five-wheeled Chakra system. There are people who follow a path of Rāja Yoga who have a six-wheeled Chakra system. The seven-wheeled Chakra system we may think of as traditional is, in contrast, rather modern.
Here are the seven Chakras of the seven-wheel Chakra system and the symbols associated with each Chakra. In the subtle body we have an energy that is referred to a prana which in other cultures is called chi or ki and in Anthroposophy is part of what is referred to as the etheric. It is a formative force. The Sanskrit scriptures tells us that there are channels that allow the prana energy to flow. The word in Sanskrit means riverbed which suggests that these channels are the channels along which the water of life can flow within the human organisation. The word is nadis. There are about 72 000 nadis in the subtle bodies. There are three of the principle nadis worth mentioning: one that flows to the right of the spine, one to the left of the spine and one that flows up the spine. The spine in the human being becomes a picture of a rod with an uprightness. The clearest image of this comes from a libation vase dating to 2120 BCE. This libation was given to the god Ningishzida by King of Gudea of Lagash in Southern Mesopotamia. On this vase we see two rampant dragons, these are mushkhushshus, supporting the god Ningishzida who is a two-headed serpent intertwined with a rod that bears two wavy branches. This is the “Lord of the Good Tree”.
The image of Ningishzida has place for six nodes.
We can imagine that the six Chakras were derived from the image of the “Lord of the Good Tree”. The two-headed serpent became the right and the left serpent and are the symbols for Shakti and Shiva. These are representative of feminine and masculine and are both incorporated in each person. They are the two ends of one reality and we can include all polar opposites in this reality. We live with both polarities. The Lord of the Good Tree represented a future image of the human being in the subtle body.
The translation of the Chakra system for this series of talks is one of spiritual development. This does not negate the translations (interpretations) that use the Chakra system for other representations, but it is not to be confused with the translation (interpretation) that these talks present. We begin with the Root Chakra because the energy of the traditional Chakra system flows from the Root Chakra upwards. Note in the diagram below the number of petals and the symbols drawn inside of each Chakra. The Chakra are wheels which means they must revolve. They have spokes or lotus petals.
The Root Chakra has four petals and has within it a square and within the square a triangle. The geometric forms have meaning:
The Heart Chakra (known in Sanskrit as the unstruck Chakra) is a twelve-petaled lotus flower that contains the symbol of the intersecting descending triangle and the ascending triangle that, in the Judeo-Christian tradition is called the Star of David (Magen David). This is a pattern of the past and we will see it transform as this series of talks unfolds. This Chakra is interpreted from indications given in the Vedic scriptures. In the Vedic tradition of the trinity of gods: Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva, there is, one could say, a definite association with Father, Son and Spirit and Vishnu, the preserver, is the Son, the heart. This is linked to the third Noble Truth of esoteric Buddhism which is that the only way to stop suffering is to become non-attached, the heart must let go.
The Throat Chakra is a sixteen petaled lotus flower and within it a descending triangle and within it a circle: the heavens within the descending fire. This represents a point of grace in the meeting of something that is rising and something that is descending; the material earthly trying to lift itself, the heavenly, spiritual trying to come down. One can imagine that in the ascending energy the enlivening of the eight petals is connected with the eight-fold path of Buddhism and in the descending energy it is connected with the renewed, Christian eight-fold path. This Chakra is linked to the fourth Noble Truth of esoteric Buddhism which is that to become non-attached is to follow the eight-fold path. Hence the clear connection of this Chakra to the eight-fold path.
The esoteric Buddhists have a fifth Chakra meaning that after achieving the four Noble Truths there is one more reality before achieving enlightenment. It is the reality of meditation. “It is clear from the eight-fold path that control over the mind is the most important way to achieve non-attachment and become enlightened. This is because Buddhism teaches that individuals must discover the truth that lies within themselves about the nature of human experience. Buddhism teaches that through meditation techniques such as sitting, walking or lying down while focussing on the object of meditation using techniques like control of the breath, that people are able to develop mindfulness or clear awareness of the body and mind in the present moment. It is believed that it is this mental focus or mindfulness that will help people to gain the insight and wisdom that is that is required for enlightenment.” This Chakra is the meditation Chakra for the esoteric Buddhists, the Chakra that helps one out of the Four Noble Truths achieve the meditation that will lead one to enlightenment which is the opening of the crown Chakra. This Chakra has a lot to do with our mind. An understanding that there was something in the physical body around this space that has to do with pathways that enable a recognition of thought. It is not where we think, but it is where we have the capacity to organise thinking; it is called our brain. This is a two-petaled lotus flower that repeats the Solar plexus Chakra with a descending triangle within the wheel.
Finally, the Crown Chakra is a wheel surrounded by a thousand petals, known as the infinitely-petaled lotus flower. It does not lie in the subtle body; it is beyond us. It is an achievement, a place to arrive. The image of the Buddha is one of the Crown Chakra having opened so far that in comes down onto his skull almost like a many-petaled skullcap. It has opened up completely and enlightenment was achieved by the Buddha. Because the Buddha achieved enlightenment it means that everyone can achieve enlightenment on the ascending Chakra path. This Chakra is no longer there in the descending path of the Chakra system as described by Rudolf Steiner. We now bring the energy of the enlightenment, enlightened by the fire of the Holy Spirit, down, first to our Brow Chakra, then to our Throat Chakra and we are now bringing it down as far as our Heart Chakra.
Michaël is of the opinion that this Chakra system naturally arises and develops in a healthy child. It comes into its own when the child is able to grow naturally and well, sustained by loving parents and a wonderful education. No child gets this because parents are human. Naturally we recapitulate the ascending Chakra path as we grow. They are recapitulated in the cycles that Rudolf Steiner describes in the naturally growing child in a healthy way. We are born and are Rooted. We are born with all the seeding that we need: a fire within an earth body. It is a beautiful description of the Divine within the human: the spiritual body held within the physical reality of the earth body. Then the child develops to a stage where it gets some of the qualities of the second Chakra, the Sacral Chakra: a time when the child has a sense of itself. The Sanskrit word for this Chakra is ‘where the self is established’. This is the age when the child becomes determined to do things themselves. It is the time from three-years of age to six years of age. We arrive at this through a natural development so that this Chakra becomes enlivened. At the age of six the child begins to enliven the Solar plexus Chakra. At the age of nine the child achieves a real separation from the mother, a cutting of the cord at the navel. It is at this age that the child realises for the first time that it will die. It is a realisation of one’s own mortality; a falling out of paradise. At the age of twelve the child arrives at the Heart Chakra. Twelve years of age is the heart of childhood. The child can now do something new; the child can use instruments as an extension of themselves. The fifteen-year-old arrives at the Throat Chakra. It is a time when the fifteen-year-old loses the ability to speak. The passage of the fifteen-year-old is finding a new voice. The passage from fifteen to eighteen is the capacity for a new thinking. Finally, we have the passage from the “all-knowing eighteen-year-old” to twenty-one and beyond, coming into the “I”-organisation. We naturally enliven the Chakras in our development, but the degree to which the Chakras spin is dependent on whether the growing child encounters problems in their natural development. When a person in wounded at a particular point in their development it is possible that the Chakra does not spin as it should, and the individual gets stuck.
Rudolf Steiner suggests that this ascending Chakra path is one we no longer need to work on, it is one we have inherited as modern human beings, it will of its own accord lift and rise. The work we must do is to bring a new energy on the way down.
(Editor) The following two talks will appear here page in time.
The Chakra system described above is an interpretation that draws from the ancient Vedas and Upanishads, but as an interpretation it is only a few hundred years old. The representation of the Chakras with the energy that rises to the left and to the right of a central flow that connects the Chakras is very reminiscent of a proto-Sumerian god, the ‘Lord of the Good Tree”. We can thereby sense that we are working with something that has been in the human imagination for a long time. The Chakras are energy centres within the subtle body (etheric body) of the human being and are imagined as wheels (direct translation of Chakra) or lotus flowers. The symbols contained in these energy wheels are also interpretations. The Rishis who inspired the Vedas and the authors of the Upanishads were clear that what is being described here was about the energetic body, the subtle body and not the physical body. It was about a spiritual development that represented an ascent from the Root Chakra to the Crown Chakra. However, the esoteric Buddhist system contains only the Sacral Chakra to the Forehead/Brow Chakra in which they connect as the first to fourth Chakra with the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. Having reached the Fourth Noble Truth, which is that the way a person reaches enlightenment and breaks from the cycle of the earth and ascends into the oneness of all things, is by following the Eight-fold Path which leads to the Fifth Chakra. The Fourth Chakra is the Throat Chakra which is a sixteen-petaled Chakra of which eight of the petals are enlivened by the rising energy of the Eight-fold Path of Buddhism. The Eight-fold Path includes Right Concentration which takes one to the Brow Chakra and is the act of meditation. This leads to enlightenment. This the Buddha achieved, and it is represented as the fully opened Crown Chakra of infinite petals so far open that they look like a skull cap over his head. Rudolf Steiner revealed that when the Crown Chakra opened it revealed an etheric heart.
When the Buddha had achieved enlightenment, Steiner said that this prepared the human being for the descending path. There is pause, in which, as a consequence of the enlightenment achieved by the Buddha, Greek philosophy was able to flourish. The great Greek philosophers were able to begin a new way of thinking, of working with the Brow Chakra, preparing the human being for the etheric heart to begin descending. The descent of the etheric heart comes under the flame of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Whitsun / Pentecost allows this flame to be drawn into the human being to Christianise Greek thought (that was the work of Paul and we can read it in his letters). The human being then draws the etheric heart and the flame of Whitsun to the Throat Chakra where it requires a new Eight-fold Path to enliven the other eight petals of the lotus flower. It is a Christian Eight-fold Path. Then the human being draws the etheric heart and the flame of Whitsun down to the Heart Chakra which is the work of the Consciousness Soul era.
The ascending path happens naturally, as described last week, in the development of the child from birth to twenty-one and beyond in the three-year stages of development. The lifting of the serpent-like energy made the human being ready for what the heavens had to offer. This was what the human being who had fallen to the earth needed to do – to lift itself back up towards the heavens, which was the impetus for the building of the Towel of Babel – but could do only to a point at which the human being had to be graced by the heavens so that something new can enter into the human being. This creates a vortex at the Charkas. The lifting energy spun the Chakras in one direction and the descending flame of Whitsun spins them in the opposite direction.
The understanding comes not only from the Vedic scriptures but also from Dante in his Divine Comedy. In the third part Dante writes about the journey into the heavens. He describes the Spheres of Heaven which at the time every reader knew. He presents a real image with which we can work. In our ascent into the heavens we go through planetary spheres, which was clearly understood until very recently.
The first sphere, from which we departed into birth on earth, and is the first sphere we enter after death, is the sphere of the Moon. Thereafter we ascend according to the esoteric development of the planets rather than the astronomical naming we currently have. Thus we ascend to Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
On the descending path we have lost the planetary sphere of Saturn because the Crown Chakra disappears once it has opened. A new Chakra appears as a kind of resonance of the Heart Chakra. It appears between the ascending Venus and Mercury. We have a shift in these vital Chakras in terms of the alignment to the planets.
On the descending path the first Chakra that is encountered was established, one could say, by Greek philosophy. The Greek philosophers laid the foundation for the enlivening of the Brow Chakra. They did the groundwork so that our thinking could be grounded on something.
There is an enormous shift in the human being that happened with Abraham. Rudolf Steiner helps us understand this shift. Abraham was called because he was able to do brained-based thinking. This is the insight that Steiner provides. This was a new capacity that was beginning to develop in humanity and Abraham was the first human being to have it fully developed. It was for this reason that he was called out from humanity for a specific task. Abraham was no longer open to a thinking that poured into the human being without any effort on the part of the person. One could say that the fontanelles of his skull had closed. He now had to manage thinking for himself; he had to think things through with his own effort. He could still hear the voice of YHWH (Yahweh of the Elohim) but he now had to consider for himself what that meant and how he would respond. He was required to create the whole of the cosmos in his brain, to have the whole of the starry sky reflected within his own physical framework in order to be able to pioneer something. It is this that went through his genetic line to his descendants. It was this that had to be sacrificed by the ram so that his son Isaac could carry it. Isaac could pass it to Jacob who became Israel and had twelve sons of whom through Judah the line could continue until there was a human being who could step into the Jordan, Jesus of Nazareth, and could open himself up from that closed state for a new impulse to enter into human evolution.
What Abraham developed became available to all humankind and the Greek philosophers developed within this brained-based thinking logical, sequential, consequential thinking. Euclid could combine all of geometry – the measuring of the earth – not based on a Cartesian plane model (and x-, y-, z-axis model) thus that which can be called free-floating circular and linear geometry – the geometry of circles and triangles – that refer back to the symbols contained within the Chakras. Euclid could combine all of this geometry into one work that has become the most read mathematical textbook in history. Euclid did not invent this text, but he combined all the knowledge such that we have not been able to find a single thing to add to it in two-thousand years, it was complete. That is an extraordinary development in brain-based thinking. St Paul then Christianised Greek thought. The common idea is that the Greek world Hellenised Christianity, but the reality is that Christianity Christianised Greek thinking. Christianity takes hold of the framework for what may be described as the first theology, Christology, the first understanding of the operation of Christ in human history.
Then the descending path descends to the Throat Chakra. The descending path takes time. Taking hold of the Throat Chakra is evidenced with the Mystics into a way of speaking that is infused with something more than just logical, sequential, consequential thought, and it grew from there. The speaking was now infused with Christ forces. Steiner speaks of an eight-fold path that can enliven the Throat Chakra.
Here follows a brief summary of the Buddhist path and the new path that is a Christian path as it is described by Rudolf Steiner.
This is the new eight-fold path. Rudolf Steiner suggested that the human being who reached this new eight-fold path within himself most beautifully was Francis of Assisi. Francis of Assisi lived in the late twelfth, early thirteen century and was then that the Throat Chakra was fully developed for the human being on the descending path. Steiner suggests that we are still able to develop the Throat Chakra through the eight-fold process described above.
The planets on the descending path begin with Jupiter. Saturn does not play an influence on this path. Mars still is connected with our speech and the way in which we speak. We may speak of speech and of action, but our speech is action. Our words carry weight, possibly greater weight that our physical action. Thus, we have idioms in all languages that affirm this such as “the pen is mightier than the sword”. The rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” is completely false. The damage of sticks and stones heal but the harm caused by words cannot be undone and will live on into the life of the individual. Our words have power to heal and to harm. The sun is connected with the Heart Chakra. The Solar plexus Chakra connected with Venus moves upward. Then a new Chakra appears below the Solar plexus and becomes connected with Mercury. The Sacral Chakra becomes connected with the Moon and the Root Chakra is now connected with Earth. The descending path is one that earths us.
The new picture is no longer of the rising serpent but of the restful lamb. We descend to the lamb of the earth. There has been a tremendous development in the picture of Aries as a constellation through the centuries from ram to lamb and then, as described in the Book of Revelation, to the little lamb – the new-born lamb. The nursery rhyme “Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was white as snow. And everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go.” should spring to mind. In this rhyme the person reciting the rhyme is the person referred to as ‘Mary’. We now bear the little lamb within us. It is not a growing lamb; it is still the new-born little lamb. It is the seed of what is to develop. (Refer to the Contemplation in the Newsletter of July 2022.) Our understanding of the constellations has again changed. The constellation of Aries moved from ram to lamb to little lamb. The picture for the constellation of Aquarius has moved from a mighty lord who is the bearer of the Water of Life to us bearing the Water of Life in us. The constellations that were an expression of mighty gods have become an expression of the God-in-us. This is a path that will be explored in due course.
The symbol that appears in the Heart Chakra (see above) is the merged ascending triangle with the descending triangle.
The picture of the Hearth Chakra comes about by having an ascending triangle and a descending triangle:
The triangles can continue to ascend and descend:
When the Buddha achieved enlightenment and the Crown Chakra opened, Rudolf Steiner said, it revealed an etheric heart, a formative heart, a heart of formative forces. This cannot stay as the guiding light in our Crown Chakra, it must become incorporated into the human organisation. The incorporation began with the great event of Whitsun. One can imagine the Flame of the Spirit being drawn into the human constitution with the etheric heart.
One can imagine the upward path energetically surrounded by the rising Kundalini energy, which in its very appearance is connected with the ancient proto-Sumerian image of a god, the Lord of the Good Tree: a two-headed serpent entwined with a rod that spreads itself out above the heads of the serpents. It represents an idea of a Tree of Life and was held by Sumerians and retained by the Babylonians. It is possible to describe this as the upward path of soul development.
We are now engaged in a downward path of spirit incorporation. In the talk on the development of the Chakra System (above) the energetic movement had descended through the Brow Chakra and the Throat Chakra and that humanity is now engaged in the Heart Chakra. There are still Chakras into which the spirit will descend: the new Chakra above the Solar Plexus that is strongly connected with the Heart Chakra, the Sacral Chakra and the Root Chakra. There is still a lot of development until we come to the image of the restful lamb, no longer a rising serpent.
We are still able to work on the Throat Chakra although Francis of Assisi was able to live the whole Throat Chakra development in the fulness of his being. The work on the Heart Chakra is still in process and no one has yet stepped forward as the exemplar of the fullness of the Heart Chakra development.
The view that we study as the downward path of the present development is but one view of the development of the Chakra System that we can incorporate into a full worldview. If we imagine the descending path having started, not with the enlightenment of the Buddha, but rather after a hiatus, with the Mystery of Whitsun, the arrival of the baptism-of-fire in the Spirit. At Whitsun we can celebrate the arrival of the Spirit into the human being and into the thinking of the human being.
It is possible to identify the enlivening of the Throat Chakra with St John’s-tide. The previous talk contained a description of the development of sacred symbols that we can see as possible understandings of the eight diamonds that are presented on the back of the St John’s chasuble in The Christian Community. When John the Baptist was asked to self-describe he could have said that he was Elijah or the Prophet, as both would have been true in a sense, yet he chose to identify with the words if Isaiah and he self-described as “I am a voice crying out urgently in the desolation of existence. Make straight the way of the Lord (create a straight path)” for the kingdom of God (the reign of God) is close at hand. As a consequence of this, John exhorted people to change their whole conscious way of feeling, thinking and acting; undergo a full change of soul capacity. It is therefore reasonable to identify the Throat Chakra with the Eight-fold Path in the light of Christ (not as a Buddhist Eight-fold Path) but as a Christian Eight-fold Path, with the festival of St John. The festivals just mentioned are the festivals of future development, of living now and the development into the future of the human being. These festivals are not festivals of remembrance because Christianity does not end with the Resurrection, it begins with the Resurrection. There is now a whole new way of moving forward.
Towards the end of Revelation there is an incredible passage that is a description of the picture the Buddha held in his enlightened meditation. We will come to a stage in the unfolding of the human story where “every tear is wiped away, all grief has ended, all suffering has been relieved, and all death has come to an end”. The human development arrives at a place where the human being is relieved of pain and suffering, and death has ended. This is the point at which the Buddha arrived in his meditation. However, Revelation tells us that “a voice says, ‘And now I make all things new’”. Everything begins again.
Our working on the Heart Chakra, one can imagine, aligns with the festival of Michaelmas. These are the three festivals of the Spirit, of our future development: Whitsun, St John’s and Michaelmas, that call the human being to know that we are still in process of unfolding and not merely resting because it has all been done for us. It is not the case that the human being has been saved and now all is good and has ended. We are on a path that is true and real and that requires us to keep going.
Rudolf Steiner introduces six exercises that may also be considered as attitudes and capacities that the human being can develop for the Heart Chakra. This is a twelve petaled lotus flower and six petals were enlivened on the ascending path, and we are now encouraged to enliven the other six petals on the descending path in opposite spin creating a vortex around the heart. This vortex around the heart is being created as the formative force of the heart, the forces that form the compassionate and conscious heart thinking that is connecting to our physical organ in the space where the heart operates and responds. It is an important understanding of the physical heart: it is not the heart that moves the blood, it is the flow of the blood that moves the heart. Therefore, the heart is a responsive organ. It is an organ that responds to the flow of life. The flow of blood has been understood by every civilisation as connected to the concept of life, what it means to be alive; understanding that when the blood stops flowing the person has died. Embryologically the flow of blood appears before there is a heart organ. Little blood islands begin to pulse and connect and flow before the heart organ has developed. The heart is therefore not a pump but more easily described as an hydraulic ram. The heart is a responsive organ, not only physically but also spiritually.
The six attitudes, habits, virtues (in order to not refer to them as exercises which may sound like unnecessarily hard work for many people) that become a way of being and enlivens each day. They are often summarised and not always viewed in their full reality. First the summary:
The first three habits follow an order that is a little out of the sequence in which we might usually place them: thinking, feeling, willing. Instead they are thinking, willing and feeling. Brow Chakra – thinking, the action of our words, willing – Throat Chakra, and the compassion of our thinking heart (Heart Chakra) – a new form of feeling that is not sentimental. The order brings us into the heart-space.
The next three are a transformation of the first three. They may be viewed as taking hold of feeling in a new way, taking hold of willing in a new way and taking hold of thinking in a new way. The new way is the way of Consciousness Soul thinking. We manage our thinking, willing and feeling and then we manage our feeling through conscious thinking, manage our willing through conscious thinking and manage our thinking through conscious thinking. Conscious thinking that resides in the heart-space.
Plato and later in more detail, Aristotle, describe two levels of soul in the human being. The first level of soul we share with animals. The second level of soul is unique to the human being. The first level of soul they described as Sentient Soul. With a Sentient Soul there are things that the individual knows by virtue of having a soul life. Teilhard de Chardin, mystic of the twentieth century, said that animals know, while humans know that they know.
The Sentient Soul is moving on the downward path in the Brow Chakra into the Mind Soul that Aristotle described. This is the human being knowing that it knows. Something of the Sentient Soul is developing into Mind Soul. In the enlivening of the Throat Chakra the Mind Soul is opening itself up to a new level of self-understanding: knowing that we know and now being able to reference it back to ourselves essentially, with a consciousness that opens up a relationship to self, to the environment, to others and to the Divine. The soul opening to consciousness is the essential enlivening of the Heart Chakra. In the Heart we are in the unfolding of the Consciousness Soul. We are developing something of a conscious thinking, a conscious soul capacity to develop and control our thinking, to develop and control our actions and to develop and control our feeling and then to take hold of our feeling through conscious thought, take hold of our willing with conscious thought and take hold of our thinking with conscious thought.
Now follows a deeper description of the six habits.
‘Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” These time-honoured words in their simple majesty present the archetypal pattern for the manner in which a new epoch opens in the spiritual evolution of humanity. In the last analysis, the origin and character of The Christian Community must be understood in reference to this pattern. At its outset there was a divine initiative and a human response or, to put it perhaps more correctly, a human groping, a muffled call, caused in the unconscious by divine readiness for a new step.
Every characteristic detail of the movement is as new as a new creation and at the same time as old as eternity. This applies in a special sense to its centres of life: its sacramental events, seven in number, grouped around the Act of Consecration like the planets round the sun. And it remains now to be shown how they stand in relation to traditional forms.
The communion service, the Act of Consecration of Man, bears in its structure and sequence a distinct resemblance to the Mass. Yet not only is its language the vernacular of our age, but every single detail is as fresh and as new and as different as the fresh blossom of a new spring. Additions and accretions which were joined to the ritual body of the Mass in times of clouded vision have dropped away. The ritual has sprung again from its eternal source like a young reincarnation of its eternal self. It has gone through a metamorphosis caused by God himself.
Equally striking is the new birth of the ritual of baptism, the second great Christian sacrament. The baptismal service in The Christian Community is the first genuine form of infant baptism in the history of Christianity. All traditional forms of baptism used in the historic churches are more or less imperfect adaptations of a ritual originally used for adults. None of them meets the condition of a soul just entered into earthly life.
The traditional service of confirmation, hedged round and covered with doctrinal assumptions and demands of a bygone age, hardly gives to the adolescent boy and girl that true ‘confirmation’, that is the strengthening of soul, which they need. The confirmation ritual in The Christian Community confers that grace and power which a Christianity can give which is in touch with the unseen reality of the world.
From the same sources the marriage ritual of the Community inspires a conception of marriage which adult men and women can accept and maintain with dignity and freedom. The burial services, too, which accompany and lead in reality the human self from one state of existence into the other witness to their more than human origin. And from the same sources also a form of sacramental consultation has come into being which can in time supersede the couch of the psychoanalyst as much as the traditional confessional box.
These sacramental acts and events are the fountains of spiritual experience in The Christian Community. They help us to make the whole of life into a sacrament in reality. Without the constant inspiration of the ‘special’ sacraments the ‘universal’ sacrament of life remains mostly a pious ideal. Anyone who in his own judgment and conviction has come to realise the truth of our sacraments can become a member. No other condition is required. One ultimate gift and gain of these sources of sacramental experience is of crucial importance for all religion. They lead to a fresh first-hand realisation of man’s immortal self. We have no quarrel with science, when science asserts that consciousness as we know it in our ordinary, everyday, waking state of mind, is tied to the brain, to the cerebrospinal system, is ‘cell-bound’. But we know from the sources of experience opened up by the sacramental events that within us there is an occult entity, the ‘real I’. It may be that in the past — or at any rate in the last few centuries — this real I could never be convincingly experienced this side of death by the majority of men and women. But this situation is changing. And in the process we cease to ‘worry’ about our immortality or to make any fuss about it. Our ‘immortality’ begins to dawn within our consciousness; it emerges as a knowable fact: it explains that ‘dormant omniscience’ in us, of which some writers speak. Together with this knowable realisation of our eternal entity we discover not only that we shall continue to have an individual existence after death, however much our type of consciousness may be changed, but that in fact we had an individual existence before physical conception and birth.
With this first-hand discovery (or rediscovery?) of our eternal self, our whole approach to the other fundamentals of religion undergoes a change. Our vision of God, or as today we incline to say more naturally, of ‘the divine world of spirit’, our grasp of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and their redemptive significance takes on a new life, our practice of prayer and meditation, our approach to the whole range of practical morality — everything changes or rather is reborn and refashioned.
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From the book The Nature of Substance: Spirit and Matter by Dr Hauschka.
Chemically speaking, sulphur is the most active of all substances It does not act in any one clear direction as do the halogens and oxygen, rather does it form combinations in a sociable way, creates new possibilities and supplies warmth, acting towards other substances as a kind of cook.
Sulphur’s function in protein is of just such a nature Its liking for the colloidal state and thus for everything alive, its capacity for change, its brood-warmth make it a natural mixer of substances, particularly the organic. It is the carrier of upbuilding vital forces, looked at materially, though not in the same sense as oxygen which presses into living manifestation out of macrocosmic realms of spirit. Sulphur is rather a uniting force that prompts cosmic essences to work together in building up matter. It gives itself over wholly to organic life, promotes its physical functioning, and in this way keeps it clear of infringements from the side of consciousness.
Sulphur thus plays a very important role in metabolic processes. Everyone knows how harmful emotions such as anger, fear and worry can be at mealtime. Digestive upsets are sure to result. Sulphur in the appropriate dosage is a common remedy for such afflictions, for it supports digestion by guiding nutritional elements, especially protein over into the life of the organism in the proper way. It is active wherever a too close connection of the emotions and consciousness with the vegetative physical indicates a need for a releasing agent; in cases, that is, where we need to have more life in our physical processes with no interference from the activities of the soul.
The fact that sulphur has this effect is shown when an excess of it causes dizziness or a dimming of consciousness. This same effect makes sulphur useful in treating insomnia. For sleep is an extreme bodily condition in which the whole organism behaves as the metabolic system normally does. Soul and consciousness are driven out and separated completely from the purely vegetative-physical life-processes so that these are left free to do their up-building work undisturbed.
This gives sulphur a dual nature such as the centaur has, except that it is the reverse of his. The centaur’s higher self saves him from becoming wholly hardened in animality and lifts him towards the light. He longs to cast off, to reject, his lower nature. The dual-natured sulphur, however, inclines to the purely vegetative, rejecting the higher qualities which lead towards the development of consciousness.
When we walk through a blossoming meadow in June (in the Northern Hemisphere), the month when the sun is in the constellation Gemini, we can feel the sulphuric element rampant in all the sprouting and flowering of nature. The soul of nature slumbers like the Sleeping Beauty, in the midst of all this vegetative burgeoning. (In the Southern Hemisphere at this time the soul of nature is in deep slumber holding an opposite picture which the North will experience at the opposite solstice.) In their blossoms, plants come into touch with the soul-sphere which is the source of consciousness in animals, but with the aid of the sulphur activity within them they keep the soul-sphere from penetrating more deeply into their organisms. Otherwise, as we know, they. would become poisonous.
When, in December (in the North), the sun passes through Sagittarius, almost every physical trace of plant life has disappeared; tiny, mineralized seeds are all that remain. But the being of the plant has withdrawn to live in the luminous heights of the realm of archetypes, where it reaches a culmination at the time of the Winter Solstice.
Thus we see how the processes active in sulphur and magnesia lay hold of and penetrate the human being and nature, having originated respectively in the constellations of Gemini and Sagittarius. (Their interplay is also expressed in the opposite picture held in the balance of tension in the Southern Hemisphere’s experience.)
The Gospel Study during this month began by looking at the difference between what is meant by church, congregation, community and brotherhood. All these terms are used by Paul and other epistle writers and in the Acts of the Apostles and without understanding the Koine Greek these have been mistranslated or misunderstood.
Rev. Michaël Merle introduced four words from New Testament (or koine Greek) that had been illuminated during the Gospel Study the previous Tuesday. The first word being Ekklesia which has changed meaning since it was used in the New Testament. It is now associates the institution of the church – the organisation, hierarchy and sometimes even the building which is the church. When it was used in the New Testament it meant an assembly of those called out; those who feel called out to join an assembly; or a congregation. The second word is koinonia which means a community. A community develops through a culture, common expression and relationships. A congregation or community may feel the need for a sacred space, which in koine Greek was a kiriakon. This became a kirikon which was taken into the Germanic languages as kirke and chirch (ch pronounced as k) and church. This is the space in which we gather – the temple, room or building. Lastly, the word Adelphus who are those sitting in the circle whom one thinks of as brothers and sisters.
Thereafter the study looked at the Sunday Gospel Readings, firstly at the story of Nicodemus and then at the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well.
In the story of Nicodemus, the first thing worth mentioning is that Jesus says to him that one must be “born from the heights”. There is no mention of being ‘born again’. Jesus is saying to Nicodemus that the essential nature of the human being – our I-constitution – must enter into a renewed etheric body and a renewed astral body for the continuation of the human being. If these are not renewed the I-constitution will enter into the dying reality of earth. This renewal must come from the heights. We can understand that this is something that has occurred for humanity and it is now the task of humanity to work into the astral body and the etheric body with the I-constitution in order to create the continuation of our future.
The story of the Samaritan woman is one that deals with worship. The Samaritans are descendants of Jacob but during their history five foreign tribes were placed in the towns that had been given to the Samaritans. They had thereby changed their worship of YHWH (Yahweh of the Elohim) and had also taken to worshipping the gods of the five other tribes. Therefore, when Jesus speaks to the woman he is speaking to her as a representative of the whole Samaritan tribe. When she recognises that Jesus is speaking about worship (Jesus does not simply say, call your husband, but rather call the one who is your Lord) she immediately responds by asking about worship. The Greek grammar of saying “the hour is coming and has indeed come: is now” is quite startling, and it means that this signifies a significant shift for humanity. The woman then goes back into the town and invites everyone to come and meet Jesus and to confirm her assessment. This earned her being ‘baptised’ by the Orthodox Church and recognised as an Apostle. The big shift for humanity is that worship shifts from a specific place out in the world to within every human being.
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