by Rev. Michaël Merle, reported by John-Peter Gernaat
Why chemistry at Christmas?
These are areas of the manifestation of the spirit that are not well known by the average person. Chemistry is a subject that is very specialised and therefore the general community is excluded from entering this world of understanding. Yet, this is all about our world and about how we are composed, materially.
Our composition is three-fold:
All of the chemical elements are imbued with the Christ-principle because all of Creation happens through Christ. It is the Creation of the Father through Christ, in Christ. The new creation is also through and in Christ. We can hear the co-operative working of the Trinity in what may be referred to as our version of the doxology (our doxology is a conversation that we speak to the Christ rather than, as previously, speaking it about the Christ): “You who bear and order the life of the world, as you receive it from the Father and make it whole through the Spirit … ” This speaks about the manifestation of spirit. The life that manifests as material reality is the unfolding and design of the spirit. In order to marvel at matter one must marvel at chemistry, but it must be clear that chemistry is a manifestation and not a thing in its own right at which we marvel. We can marvel at how the signature manifests.
The relationship between these elements and also between other elements, such as the metals, is specific. It is not an open or a random potential. Carbon will combine with certain elements, not with all elements. E.g., carbon and silicon will never combine in a direct bond. What any element directly bonds with has a clear significance; it reveals something of the direction in which the element is progressing. What is oxygen doing when it bonds with silicon or when it bonds with carbon? These bonds reveal something of significance, they are not random and unimportant. We have also seen how the bonds are important in order that nature can use the element, e.g., phosphorus is not very useful while phosphate is, similarly sulphur and sulphate. The principle of life – oxygen – is important in these bonds and is revealed in so much of the chemistry.
We can now look at the three Chemical Crosses together and come to understand what the Ancient Sumerian Culture recognised in the constellations. They would not have been able to identify the elements but they were able to characterise the quality of the constellation and the spiritual beings that operate through these constellations. Aquarius was recognised as the water-bearer and known as the Mighty One. He was not a creator God in their understanding, but he worked with the Creator. Their understanding of this Being was clear. The Water of Life flowed through him – into his left hand and out again through his right hand. He bore the Water of Life within himself, within his body. He received the Water of Life into himself; he was the bearer of the Water of Life. The Sumerians understood the principle of the Water of Life.
Capricorn was an extraordinary god. He was the fish-goat and operated from this constellation. He had everything to do with balance because he created the human ear that contains the smallest and most delicate of bones in the human body as well as the organs of balance in the inner ear. His name was Enki, and the ear was his greatest creation. The fish-tail of the constellation may be seen as the turns of the cochlea of the ear.
Our balance resides in our ear. Enki was a master-craftsman to create the balance of the human being into such a small and delicate organ. We remain upright, not because of the skin and bone that give us structure, but rather because of the vestibular apparatus in the ear.
Cancer was the gateway of the soul, through it one became conscious on the earth.
The Sumerians would have been aware of the activity of the elements as a result of the qualities bestowed by the constellations. They may not have had the science that developed as consciousness developed, but their awareness of the physical world was greater than is often credited to them.
The knowledge that they bore was passed to us through later civilisation where it became transformed and corrupted. The Babylonian civilisation and thereafter the Egyptian civilisation lost a lot of what was fully grasped by the Sumerians. The Greeks who inherited the stories of the Egyptians received a much-corrupted picture, and our understanding comes largely from the ancient Greeks. Ancient Sumerian knowledge is slowly being uncovered through archaeology and we are discovering that they had an understanding of mathematics that was far more accurate, to decimal points, than later understanding.
The Sumerians had a particular relationship to Scorpio that was for them the Eagle. Later, as they developed the Zodiac further and finally recognised Libra, the scorpion had become apparent in the constellation of Scorpio and the Eagle had moved for them to the constellation of Aquilla, outside of the Zodiac.
The Greeks connected the Eagle with Zeus in two stories. In one picture, Zeus becomes the Eagle to snatch Ganymede, a beautiful youth, in order that he may become the cupbearer to Zeus, the cup bearing wine. In this story something of what the cup will come to represent is foreshadowed as ancient wisdom. This picture is of the Eagle being able to take hold of the cup that represents new life or new potential. The other story connected to Aquilla is the story of Prometheus who brings fire to human beings against the will of the gods. Prometheus is punished by being tied to a rock where every day the Eagle devours his liver. Because he is immortal he regenerates his liver every night. The Eagle in this story is connected with regeneration. The Greeks still understood that the Eagle was somehow connected with regeneration and renewed life. The origin of the word ‘gen’, that we have used throughout these articles in words like pyrogen, geogen, etc. means both to form and also to generate, to give. Form is the great gift of Scorpio. Carbon as geogen – earth-forming, earth-giving – is the element that earths us. It is primarily the element of earth that makes us earthly beings. Life on earth, is not just life, it is life on earth; it begins with the carbon dioxide process in the atmosphere with plants taking it in to form life. All life must bear carbon. The earth bears carbon and is therefore a living being and can be penetrated in the same way that life can be penetrated by the Divine. It is connected with regeneration which the ancient Sumerians recognised.
Cancer was the gateway of birth and Capricorn was the gateway of death. After Capricorn comes regeneration in the constellation of Scorpio. Why not Sagittarius? Because they already knew the sacrifice of Sagittarius, so that the regeneration can occur with Scorpio. The ancient Sumerians had a symbol for this regeneration:
the upright infinity sign or upright lemniscate.
The span for the ancient Sumerians from Cancer to Capricorn, from birth to death also had a symbol:
We identify with these symbols on the vestments of our rituals.
These symbols are sensible to us (make sense to us) without knowing the ancient connection, because we can see in them the idea of regeneration.
symbol was connected with the sign of the Eagle, the sign of regeneration, and it still remains in the constellation of the Scorpion linked to carbon.
It is carbon, Rudolf Steiner says, that we can see as the philosopher’s stone. It is carbon that makes organic matter possible – it transforms inorganic to organic. The presence of carbon changes, substantially, what we are dealing with, changing inanimate to animate, mineral to life. Carbon is the element of earth and it is the element to which the Christ binds Himself. So, the earthly body of Christ is not only the human body, but literally, the body of the earth. He can combine Himself to the earth.
Cancer is a dim constellation, but the brightest part of Cancer is a constellation of about fifty stars that has been referred to since ancient times as ‘The Manger”. Therefore, any Sumerian and indeed any Zarathustran if told that a baby had been placed in The Manger would know that a great soul was coming to earth. It was through the gateway of The Manger that human souls came to earth, and it meant that the soul arrived with a certain consciousness or awakeness.
The three chemical crosses depicting Birth and Death. Death in Capricorn, in Balance – the balancing point between life and death. Aluminium is poisonous. Yet, it is not the end of the picture, in Scorpio there is regeneration and renewal. Reincarnation becomes a possibility because carbon is present. And the cycle continues to the potential receptivity of the alkalis that have the capacity to bear something new, a new generation – rebirth, that like a phoenix give birth from the ash – potash or potassium.
In many of the cycles of evolutionary development the cycles start in Cancer because it is the constellation of birth. This is not the case with the expression of the Zodiac in the elements of the earth. In this cycle there has to be a preparation – that one might equate with a pregnancy – that begins in warmth. Therefore, this cycle begins in Leo. The order of the constellations is always presented in the order that the earth moves through the constellations rather than the order in which we see the constellations move through the sun. Our interest is in what the constellations do for the earth and humanity. This is why the ordering is the opposite to the order of the astrological progression.
Note in the diagram the constellations that represent the fire-process, the air-process, the water-process and the earth-process. The fire and air processes are the acid processes or warm side of the cycle while the water and earth processes are the base processes or cool side.
The months that are connected with our winter season are the acid process signs. This is experienced as outer warmth in the northern hemisphere while in the southern hemisphere, generally, this is a time of dry weather, which is also a warm process. Winter is also the time of veld fires, expressing the warmth process. We experience wet summers in the months related to the bases, where the rainwater is linked to the cool process. In this way both hemispheres are connected to the same universal expression and there is no need to swap things around because we are in the southern hemisphere; there is one universal expression.
The colours that have been given to the crosses in the diagram are connected with their healing processes. The Atmospheric Cross is the sulphur-process which is red. The Oceanic Cross is the mercury-process which is blue. The Mineral Cross is the salt-process which is green. All three crosses are the expression of the constellation in the heavens focussed on the earth:
which, through the extraordinary influence of carbon, through Scorpio, has become the Body of Christ. Christ is at the centre of this activity and Christ is the generator of the activity to begin with. Christ is present at the centre as well as on the periphery. The activity of Christ is peripheral and central.
The three crosses – and now also think of the three crosses that are spoken during the Act of Consecration of Man – make up the full substance of our material reality.
We have seen how what has been described came to us from the past, from the Ancient Sumerians. They predicted regeneration through Scorpio. This did not happen as a reality on earth until the Christ appeared in the Realm of Earth – the Turning Point of Time. Regeneration has happened, not just reincarnation, but regeneration. The incarnation again is still enlivened, remaining a mercury-process, so that our reality does not become the ‘dying earth existence’. What is this event of the Christ appearing in the Realm of Earth? ‘Behold, it is the bringer of the healing of earthly (humanity)’. Here we have the healing, regenerative potential and ‘through Him is manifest the Father Ground of All Being’. It is manifest all around us, in the very elements that make up the earth and humanity.
All this required one to know what one is looking at. If one views the chemistry only for its own sake one is cutting it off from its origin and from what it is really saying. Therefore, viewing the chemical world only as a modern material scientist might is very beautiful, but it fails to hear the language that it is speaking to humanity. The secular scientist understands how the world works but will never be able to explain why it works because these scientists cut themselves off from the how, that is a manifestation of the why. This is why these talks were given at Christmas time so that we can understand the ground upon which the future is going to be built.
If the future is about a trans-formation: carbon; and a trans-substantiation, the whole substance can change, then this is the ground, the starting point, for our future.
After thought: There are three healing processes: one of burning, purifying, healing; one of enlivening; and one of stabilising and holding, and Matthew’s Gospel mentions only three gifts that the Magi bring. We can connect these also to the three healing processes: gold – sulphur healing process, frankincense – mercury healing process, and myrrh – salt healing process, as one of the realities they bear.
Epilogue: In March, April and May articles will appear that will deepen aspects of the Sulphur Cross. In June, July and August the articles will deepen the understanding of aspects of the Mercury Cross and in September, October and November, the Salt Cross. (This leaves December for the Advent of a new adventure through the cycles of twelve.)
A closing note from Rev. Reingard Knausenberger: The numbers twelve and seven form the basis for our existence (see other articles, especially on the Africa Seminary website) and for our evolution. Twelve is also a number of completion. There are twelve disciples because there is a central thirteenth, the reason for the twelve to gather. Behind the Twelve Days of Christmas is the completion of our journey as described in Revelation. The point of Christianity, and Christianity is the only religion with a clearly stated purpose and goal, is described in Revelation. The investigation of this goal brings about more substance and experience that this is a reality and not just a myth. We have completed seven investigations of twelve: twelve senses, twelve moods through eurythmy, twelve world views, twelve disciples, twelve foundation stones of the New Jerusalem, twelve virtues and the Zodiac. There are twelve cycles that we can investigate if we look. What is the New Jerusalem that we are building; what is this new beginning? Together we discover the many aspects that make up the whole of human existence and we can synthesise these into a whole to gain an understanding of the Divine.
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