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The Tribes of Israel Reconsidered, The new way into the New Jerusalem - the way of Levi
by Rev. Michaël Merle
In Chapter 21 of The Revelation to John (The Book of the Apocalypse: Revelation) we read part of the description of the New Jerusalem, a picture of a mighty vision experienced by John in the Spiritual World: “The city has a great and high wall and twelve gates. And on the gates twelve angels, and names were written on them: the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.” (verse 12)
This year we hope to uncover an understanding of the twelve ways in which we can enter the New Jerusalem.
The way of Levi
Levi, the third son of Jacob, has a name that opens up a very significant way for human beings to find the source and meaning of their lives. His name means “attached” or “joined”. This is the meaning of “ligare” in Latin (to bind, attach, join together) which forms the basis of the word re-ligion in English. Religion thus means to re-attach, to re-join. In this way it is the path back to a relationship with the Divine. Levi represents the personality that dedicates his/her life to serving a higher calling. Levi is the priest, who in this way frees himself from the bounds to material service and attaches himself to Divine service. The breastplate of the high priest is the symbol for Levi. This is the breastplate with the twelve precious silicate stones that are re-imagined in the foundation of the New Jerusalem as envisioned by John in the book of Revelation. We are all called to recognize these twelve stones in the soul processes that lead us to the virtues of our future development. The way of Levi reminds us that we are all called to the religious path – to re-attach ourselves to the Divine impulse.
Rev. Reingard Knausenberger visited members of our community across South Africa.
Visiting Simone and Joseph, with Michelle Abawat in Knysna
“Warmest greetings come to the community from these members who feel connected to the altar in Johannesburg and all those who gather there.
Visiting them in person was a joyous connecting and a time of intense conversation. Greatly appreciated.
Our community has a wide wing-span.
Gospel Study - Gospel of Luke
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The Gospel Study began the study of the Gospel of Luke in the second half of 2022. Luke explains in the introduction that he sets things in a certain order in his gospel, from which we can understand a certain way. This way reveals an eight-fold path. The fourth path is the Path of Right Action. This is demonstrated in the sending out of the 70 disciples: it is not that the demons listen when instructed, but the purpose of right action is the change to the inner self; and further demonstrated by the question of who is one’s neighbour, to which Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan and instructs the questioner to “do likewise”; and again further demonstrated by Mary, the sister of Martha, who acts on a true inner feeling unlike Martha who is busy for the sake of being busy and is becoming anxious and troubled – our actions should bring us into an inner harmony; the path of Right Action is consolidated in the meal with a Pharisee where Jesus reprimands the Pharisees for acting in accordance with the law while their souls are perverse instead of purifying the soul and acting from the inner place of Right Action.
Then we moved onto the next path which is the Path of Right Livelihood or Right Living (the Right constitutional condition for Life on earth). This is about ordering one’s life. The parable of the two servants became clear when we understood that the master is not another person in this imagination; the master is the I-constitution (which was about to become an incorporated part of the human constitution through the Mystery of Golgotha) and the servants are the astral body and the etheric body. The I-constitution must be master over the soul or the soul will tear the human being in two, one part following the desires of the soul and the other trying to act out of a place of Right Action. Christ makes it clear that this need to align with one’s conscience will divide families, as individuals stand for what they have come to know and do not act as a part of a tribe or group.
This path of Right Livelihood will be further explored in March and everyone is welcome to join the Gospel Study to come to an understanding of the Christian Eight-fold Path.
Talks given by Rev. Michaël Merle, reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The theme for Christmas of 2022 is The Zodiac. The aim is to consider how it was understood: the relationship human beings had to the Zodiac at a time when it was not yet understood and at the time when human beings became conscious of the zodiac. At this time human beings named the constellations and placed them in the order that we still recognise today. We will then consider the position the zodiac currently holds in our rhythm of life. Finally, where is the zodiac taking us in the future?
The first talk, reported in the February newsletter and available on the Community website on the News 2023 page, introduced the Zodiac. In the next eight talks three signs of the zodiac will be considered at a time. The first talk on each triad of signs will cover the history of the signs, how they were understood and what their symbols represent. We will consider the influence of these signs in allowing spiritual forces to pour down through them onto the earth allowing for something to manifest. The second talk covered how the signs may have significance in our future and what from the present may still undergo further transformation in spiritual manifestation.
We have already heard that during each spiritual period of earth existence there are seven signs of the zodiac that bring their influence to bear. Our current period of earth existence is referred to, through Anthroposophy, as the Post-Atlantean time, with seven epochs. Each epoch is governed by a sign of the zodiac. We are in the fifth Post-Atlantean epoch governed by the sign of Pisces. The next sign to govern the earth is Aquarius. This is according to the precession of the earth’s axis which moves through the signs in reverse order to the sun’s progression, annually, through the zodiac. For these talks we will begin with the creation described in the book of Genesis.
There are seven epochs in each Great Cycle of Time of the earth. In each Cycle the first two epochs focus on a recapitulation of the previous Great Cycle. This recapitulation brings all the threads of what was created in the previous Great Cycle to a point for the current Great Cycle. The next three epochs, the middle three, are the focus of the activity of the Cycle. The last epochs, although they continue to unfold what has been established, also create the seeds for what the current Great Cycle will offer the next Great Cycle. We thus begin with the first of the middle three signs of the Lemurian age, Cancer. This corresponds with the wisdom of the ancient Mesopotamians, who considered Cancer as the first sign of the zodiac. It was the sign through which every soul came down from the heavens onto the earth. The soul was placed in the Manger, passing through the cluster of stars in the heart of Cancer. This is why Cancer is connected with the Moon Sphere and why the sign of Cancer appears on baptistries all over Europe. This recognises that the soul has descended through the waters of the moon and is being baptised onto the earth. Cancer influenced the third epoch of the Lemurian age.
This tells us something of beginnings. For the ancient Mesopotamians it was the sign of the turtle. It represented for them the image of the tiny turtles that emerge annually from the mud of the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Cancer represented the emergence from the mud or clay, coming into life. It also connected to a myth related to the great god Enki, who was connected to Capricorn. Enki found himself in conflict with Ninurta, another god, who was trying to thwart Enki’s work. Enki sent a turtle to nip at Ninurta’s heels. The turtle also created a hole in the mud and both turtle and Ninurta sank into the mud. Ninurta was thwarted by the turtle. This translates to the goddess Hera who sent a crab to nip at the heels of Heracles when he was fighting the Hydra, because the Hydra was a creature under the protection of Hera. Hera cast the crab into the sky as the constellation of Cancer to reward the crab who Heracles crushed. There is thus a connection between the constellations of midsummer and midwinter, between Cancer and Capricorn. This link is maintained in the birth of Jesus connected with midwinter while Luke tells us the child is placed in the Manger – the heart of Cancer now on earth.
The nativity of Jesus, that appears in only two of the Gospels, does not mention either the donkey or the ox. Yet our depiction of the nativity usually includes the ox and ass. This derives directly from Isaiah 1: (1) “The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. (2) Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: "I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. (3) The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." (New International Version) The ass and the ox will recognise the true Lord. Thus the child placed in the Manger is recognised as the Lord through the presence of the ass and the ox. The Gospel story is very specific in its meaning: there was no place for guests (the words used mean ‘a place for guests’, it does not say “an inn”) (Jesus was not coming to earth as a guest), and therefore the child was placed in a manger (he is making the earth his home). There is no mention of a stable or a cave. The words are very clear and very symbolic. The new gateway to the future of humanity was no longer in the stars, but through the birth of this child was brought to earth.
In the Lemurian age under the sign of Cancer, Rudolf Steiner tells us, YHWH (Yahweh) of the Elohim began to build the world such as it is described in Genesis chapter 2. YHWH established Eden and a Garden in Eden. At this time the human being did not look like humans we would recognise. Humans at that time would have looked like fiery beings, were there eyes like ours to see them. The human had no firm or solid substantial form yet, but the human had a sense of their earthliness and sense for what flesh and bone would come to mean. We know this because the story tells of a rib being taken from Adam to fashion Eve. There was a comprehension of a form that would densify.
“On the day that YHWH of the Elohim made the Heavens and the Earth there was not yet on the Earth any shrub of the fields, nor had any plant yet sprung up for YHWH of the Elohim had not yet made it rain on the earth and there was no Man to till the Earth. But a mist went up from the Earth and watered the surface of the Earth and YHWH of the Elohim formed Man drawn from the clay and breathed into his nostrils a breath of life and Man became alive with breath.” This is a description of the creation of YHWH under the influence of Cancer. The clay is a wonderful reference to the clay of the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers from which the little turtles would emerge. In these writings there is still a connection discernible to the ancient myths of how creation came about. “The Elohim planted a Garden in Eden in the East and there He placed Man whom He had created. YHWH of the Elohim made grow out of the ground every kind of tree that is pleasing to see and good to eat, also the Tree of Life in the middle of the Garden and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” In this description we have trees that are not a part of nature but are esoteric in nature. There are the rivers that feed the Garden in Eden that divide to form four main streams. Two of these rivers we have named in the Mesopotamian world, the Tigris and Euphrates. The ancient Mesopotamians saw the rivers and they reminded them that these were like the rivers that had flowed in Eden. They re-established for themselves the connection to the spiritual conceptualisation of Creation.
That is the constellation of Cancer, such as it was – a constellation of beginnings, a constellation of creation, a constellation of new life coming into being – the constellation of the turtle.
We also have many myths of a world turtle with the whole of the cosmos on its back. This idea of a world turtle takes us back to the Ancient Indian conceptualisation of a world turtle carrying the cosmos, to the Ancient Indian mythology of a turtle on whose back sit the three great gods of Hinduism: Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva: the creator, the protector and the destroyer – the one who brings renewal through destruction and rebirth. These three gods work together and sit on the back of the world turtle. We have the sense of the turtle carrying the work of the Divine and the manifestation of an entire cosmos on the back of the turtle.
Gemini is interesting. We begin with the Greek myth and then go back to the Ancient Mesopotamian and then back to the Ancient Indian myth. In the Greek myth Zeus; king of the gods, had his eye on Leda, the queen of Sparta. In order to have his way with her he disguised himself as a swan. On that same night, Leda’s husband; king Tyndareus also had his way with her. This resulted in Leda bearing two boys, Castor the mortal son of Tyndareus and Pollux, the immortal offspring of Zeus. Castor dies in combat and Pollux is so heartbroken at losing his twin that he asks Zeus to share his immortality with his brother. Zeus agreed by making them both immortal by casting them into the heavens as the constellation of Gemini. There is another myth in which Leda lays an egg from which emerge Castor and Pollux and Helen and Clytemnestra, twin brothers and twin sisters. Helen is the Helen who is the cause of the Trojan Wars. The image in these twins is that of the earthly part of the human being that is mortal and eternal part of the human being that will live forever. The two parts are united in the cosmic picture of Gemini.
The Ancient Mesopotamians viewed the two beings of Gemini as almost god-like. They were known as Lugal-irra and Meslamta-ea. Lugal-irra was the mighty king and Meslamta-ea was the one who had risen from the Underworld. We can hear in this imagery the mighty king who goes into the underworld and rises to new life. In bringing the two together we have the words that could describe the Mystery of Golgotha and the Resurrection of Christ. We find the pictures of mighty deeds to come already connected with the constellations.
In the Ancient Indian myth the constellation represented two gods who travel together in a chariot pulled by horses who never tire. These twin gods become an important part of early Indian mythology. They are associated with the sun god (who also travels in a chariot across the sky every day). These two gods were associated with communication and healing.
In the early Christian era when two people partnered and travelled together such as the Saints Cosmas and Damian, who were doctors, they were immediately endowed with many of the qualities of Gemini. They brought the healing of the Good News as well the healing of their herbal and medicinal knowledge – spiritual and physical healing, eternal and mortal healing: an experience of Gemini.
Rudolf Steiner brings the idea that under the influence of the constellation of Gemini Adam is twinned. The original picture of the human being is male AND female. It Is under the influence of Gemini that the human community becomes male in Adam and female in Eve. The idea of Adam being put to sleep – being initiated into a new experience of himself – and being awakened to find that from himself, not from any other source, Eve has been created. Eve is not a new creation, but a splitting of creation into Adama and Eva. When Adam then sees Eve he recognises her, not as someone other than himself, but as part of himself. He sees an objectification standing in front of him of himself, of an aspect of himself and Adam can therefore immediately recognise Eve as being of himself. “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” By the Middle Ages Gemini begins to be depicted as a man and a woman, the image of this twinning of Adam. The constellation of Gemini is always seen as the two holding hands or with their arms around each other’s waist; they are bound in the middle realm. To understand the mystery of this one must read Genesis 5 carefully. It is badly translated because in the translation there is an attempt to make sense of it. This is because a direct translation sounds crazy. It is usually translated as: “This is the account of Adam’s descendants. When God created Adam, He made him in the likeness of God, male and female he created them. He blessed them and called them Man on the day that they were created.” This is often translated as Adam is created and the descendants of Adam come as male and female. What is described is Adam and the aspects of Adam rather than the descendants of Adam. “This is the account of Adam becoming a human community. When God created Adam he made Adam in the likeness of God. Male and female he created Adam. He blessed Adam and called him Man (human) on the day that he was created.” The singularity of the pronoun emphasises the singularity of Adam when he is created. It is only after that, that there is a separation of the genders. The twin influence is the separation of the genders. This is quite an extraordinary thought. As Adam then stands stripped of the physical form of the female, he still bears within himself the feminine life force and before him he sees the physical form of a female who bears within herself the male life force.
This connection of the physical as one gender and the etheric as the other gender, Rudolf Steiner indicates, is also connected with two other constellations in the zodiac. These two signs, which stand at 90° to each other in the zodiac are strongly connected. They are Taurus and Leo. Steiner speaks of spiritual beings who are under the influence of the bull and spiritual beings who are under the influence of the lion: bull races and lion races. These represent the male and female principles. The bull and the lion must marry to bring the male and female back together again. In the Ancient Mesopotamian legends and later the Sumerian legends there is the great goddess Inanna who becomes Ishtar, associated with the constellation of Leo, who is married to the Bull of Heaven. In the Gilgamesh story it is her being rejected by Gilgamesh that makes her send the Bull of Heaven down to the earth to fight Gilgamesh and Enkidu during which the Bull of Heaven is killed. The hindquarters of the Bull of Heaven are thrown back at Inanna to show her that they have sacrificed the Bull of Heaven. Taurus has always been depicted as only the front quarters of the bull, from the time of the Ancient Mesopotamians. The bull has been slaughtered. The wonderful crescent horns are visible; there moon forces also have a connection with Taurus.
Rudolf Steiner says the influence of Taurus comes to us in the physical form of male and the forces of Leo come to us in the physical form of female. The influence of Taurus gives us the male principle and the influence of Leo gives us the female principle. It is through this that women bear true courage. Men can exert a bull-like strength but men do not have, in their physical body, the constitution for real courage. It is for this reason that women bear children. Women have the capacity to bear children which men do not have.
The marriage of the Lion and Bull is important: the female and male within each human being must be connected and the etheric must support the physical, and the physical must be in a relationship with the etheric, because without that relationship the physical disintegrates. Death is the separation of the physical and the etheric. This separation breaks all the bodies apart. The soul-spiritual can depart and the etheric can dissipate. This occurs during the three days from death to ‘second death’. It is like a three-day temple sleep from which the soul-spirit can be born into a new space and can begin its journey.
The Mithras cult is also connected with Taurus. In the Mithras cult there is also a crab nipping at the heels of the bull and sometimes at the gonads of the bull. Mithra slaughters the bull. It is a re-imagination of the sacrifice of the Bull of Heaven. Mithra is a pre-Zoroastrian god. When Zarathustra looked at the gods of his father’s religion, he re-understood them. He did not reimage them. One of the gods stepped forward for him to proclaim himself the god of light, a leader among the lesser gods. Zarathustra realised that this had not been understood. The god of light was Ahura Mazdā, The Lord of Light. Then there was also the Lord of Darkness, Ahriman. Over time one can see in the Mithraic cult the need to depict Ahriman. They combined the lion, making the feminine sinister, with a male form as the body and wrapped around the neck of the male form a serpent with its head atop the lion’s head, with a thunderbolt carved on the chest and carrying a key in each hand – one for the upper-world and the other for the underworld (were he to cross the keys we would have the symbol of Peter) and a sceptre. He has four wings. At his feet are the hammer and tongs of Vulcan and the cockerel and caduceus of Mercury. This lord of darkness may not be Ahriman but may reference an older Vedic god, Aryaman. The best depiction of this figure known as the leontocephaline (lion-headed) god comes from the Ostia Antica (Ancient Ostia – a large archaeological site, close to the modern town of Ostia, that is the location of the harbour city of ancient Rome). This god was a combination of the symbolism of many of the other gods: Mercury, Vulcan, Zeus’s thunderbolts, the key for the upper-world and the underworld, a sceptre that someone is in charge and the lion’s head is open-mouthed in a roar. One can thereby understand why it is so necessary that the Christ figure in the Narnia tales should be Aslan the Lion who through his roar sings out creation – the song of creation. There is a continuation of the symbols and ideas that flow and come to us in different forms.
The Aryaman of the Vedas is an interesting figure. He is known as the life-partner, the close friend, the companion, this god represents the etheric. He is the etheric to the Bull, to the physical constitution of the Bull. He is commonly invoked with Varuna Mitra who was a protector of treaties based on justice and truth, associated with the light of the dawn and the rising of the sun in the morning. In a peace treaty between the Hittites and the Kingdom of Anatolia in 1400 BCE the use of the word ‘mi-itra’ for the new friendships that will arise from the accord of peace was used. If one could sacrifice the Bull of Heaven one could bring peace. This lay at the heart of the Mithraic Cult. ‘Mitra’ in Sanskrit meant ‘friend’ or ‘friendship’ and it was a name strongly connected with the sun-god. In this we hear the allusions to what would become Christ. If we consider Cancer as the Creation, Gemini as Adam and Eve, then Taurus represents the new ability to speak. Taurus has long been associated with the larynx and one finds images of Taurus carved on many pulpits in old churches in Europe. The symbol of Taurus
is seen by some as more than the head and horns but also as the larynx and Eustachian tubes. This symbol represents the capacity of the human being to speak. This is something that is unique to being human. Animals communicate and it is possible to discern the meaning of the sounds vocalised by animals, but they do not put very specific meaning to sounds that only they have agreed on. Human beings develop language within their own select community with the result that we do not readily understand the language of another community without learning it. Language is more than the symbols on a page that represent the language, the sound and vocalisation of words needs to be learned to be able to speak a language. The capacity to create language is uniquely human. Language is not what we write but what we speak and this is the gift of Taurus – the ability to speak.
There is a very specific time when Adam and Eve are asked to speak. It comes as a consequence of a question: “What have you done?” Adam and Eve are still one and Adam does what we still do as a first response, not taking responsibility but blaming the other part of him that is Eve. This brings about a further separation within himself. He dissociates within himself. The first conscious act of speech is to say: “I am divided, I am not whole”. The division between Adam and Eve and the division of speech will be explored in the next talk. Speech is the thing that can divide, but it also can unite us. We will also look at the mystery that in the future our generative capacity will be as a consequence of our larynx. Our ability to speak will generate life.
In moving forward, a quick recap of what has been covered. It made sense to begin the exploration of the Zodiac with Cancer. In so doing the early Mesopotamian idea of Cancer being the gateway that included within it a grouping of stars called the manger and what it would mean to place a child in ‘The Manger’ which would mean placing the child in the constellation of Cancer. Placing the child in ‘The Manger’ after birth would mean bringing the constellation of Cancer down to earth, because the soul would be placed in ‘The Manger’ before birth as the soul came into incarnation. It was seen as the constellation of the turtle that connects it to the great world turtle upon which, for the Vedic mythology, the three great gods rode – the creator, the preserver and the one that can bring renewal through destruction and rebirth. Cancer is connected with the moon-sphere, the last sphere through which an incarnating soul travels to birth and therefore the sign of Cancer has been connected with baptistries. In the early Middle Ages the representation of Cancer was the crawfish and not the crab.
Gemini shows us the twinning of the human being, the merism of Adam and Eve, the oneness that is Adam and Eve. They were still connected when they were in the Garden of Eden, not yet fully separated, therefore one community. Within this community of self they can recognise the parts that are male and female, as parts of a whole. Then they are asked to speak for themselves – the influence of the constellation of Taurus although still controlled by the constellation of Gemini – they cannot speak for themselves, they compartmentalise and externalise blame.
Taurus is understood in the myth of the Bull of Heaven and the association with the power of the lion. Inanna or Ishtar, strongly associated with the lion, Leo, is married to the Bull of Heaven. In the Gilgamesh story the Bull of Heaven is slaughtered, the coming of sacrifice. In the constellation we are presented with only the front quarters of the Bull with its amazing horns. The culture of leaping the bull that arose of Crete was not just leaping over the bull, but leaping through the horns of the bull. This represented an initiation, a going through a space.
In the Post Atlantean Epochs the first Epoch was under the constellation of Cancer (the earth's axis pointing into the sign of Cancer). This was the Ancient Indian Epoch. The second Epoch, which we call the Ancient Persian Epoch and refers to the time of the Ancient Sumerians, was under the constellation of Gemini. The ancient Egyptian Epoch was the epoch when Taurus was the dominant influence. Aries was the constellation of the Greco-Roman Culture, and we are currently still in the constellation of Pisces.
How do these constellations work in terms of what was happening in the Ancient Indian Epoch, what was happening in the Ancient Persian Epoch and what was happening in the Ancient Egyptian Epoch? Where might these constellations carry us in the future? What is in seed form through the characteristics of these constellations that may manifest later in human evolution? Knowing where these constellations come again in the Great Cycles of Time is useful to know.
Cancer is the constellation that is dominant at a time when we, as human beings, begin to develop a consciousness and a sense of a relationship to the Divine. In the Indian Culture there is a richness and proliferation of the understanding of all the Divine beings and their influences, and a real sense of being housed on the earth – the earth is now the home of the human being. This sense for the Divine and the earth as our home was not as well developed prior to the Ancient Indian Epoch. Before the Ancient Indian Epoch the earth was seen as a short transition while the spiritual world was experienced as home. There is a strong association between Cancer and feeling at home – the turtle carries its home with it, and in a sense so does the crab.
In the Vedic picture we do not only get myths and stories. The myths and stories come only later in the epic literature of Hindu scriptures. The first Vedic writings were about how to live on the earth: how to plant crops, how to harvest, how to cook and a lot was written relating to medicine. From these writings Ayurvedic medicine is derived, an understanding of the human body and how the body begins to show something of being human. These writings focus on the house, how the human is housed in this living body here on earth and how to feed and care for this living house. After the experience as fiery beings in the time of Lemuria and swimming through a watery atmosphere in the time of Atlantis, the human being in now on the earth in a body that can breath the air. A turtle is a water reptile that breathes air and can come out of the water onto the land. These are creatures that have ‘landed’ onto the earth. One can get a sense of Cancer as the constellation of our landing here more so than before. During the Ancient Indian Culture, the significant evolutionary development of the human being was drawing the etheric forces into the bodily constitution, allowing our life forces to be housed in our body.
When we look at the constellation of Gemini and the Ancient Persian Culture we find Zarathustra bringing a strong sense of light and darkness. There is some controversy about the dating of Zarathustra, but Rudolf Steiner places him as far back as scholarly study will permit and it is likely that there was a second resurgence of the Zarathustran impulse many centuries later that may also have been led by someone named Zarathustra. Zarathustra did not recreate a pantheon of gods, but he rather realised that people did not understand the pantheon of gods that they looked to, they did not understand a hierarchy in the pantheon. The strong sense of light and darkness is the influence of Gemini – no light without the shadow. The light and darkness are not only out in the cosmos, it is also in the human being. What is it for the human being to work with their own shadow and what is it to be beings working in light? The most significant occurrence in the evolution of the human being at this time was drawing the astral body into the human bodily constitution. This allowed our soul experiences to become internalised, rather than the externalised experience the human being had previously had. The emotions that can take us from the heights of love to the depths of bitterness were now internalised and no longer experienced as that we were living in the environment of our feelings. In this process of the ensouling of our feeling the possibility exists of hiding our feelings from the world. The description in astrology of people born under the sign of Gemini is someone who can show one emotion to one person and switch in an instant to the opposite emotion with another person, from anger to being joyous in a heartbeat. This is the experience of the twin in the human being, the twin of light and dark. We experience the poles and are in search of the balance between these poles.
This is the experience of Taurus: finding the balance. The Egyptian Culture is connected with the human being developing a Sentient Soul. This is the understanding of the world around us and really taking it in. This is the development of a Sentient Soul that is more complex than that of animals, in that we can live in a reflection of the experience of our senses. The Ancient Egyptians lived in a reflection of the senses and also in something beyond what can be seen. This is a Sentient Soul that is also spiritual: what does this mean, where can it take us, what in what we experience is significant for us, where do we find the balance? This is a life balance different from the balance we will discover from Libra. We can see that the Ancient Egyptians realised that in death there would have to be a balance, one would have to balance the soul. When Rudolf Steiner worked with the soul processes, equilibrium is the soul process of Taurus – it has to develop into a spiritual virtue (Refer to extracts from The Virtues by Herbert Witzenmann that were published in the newsletters of 2016 in the section YOUR THOUGHTS. They have not been captured on the website.) Taurus is a capacity to speech. We have only the hieroglyphics of the Ancient Egyptians, but we have no record of what their language sounded like. We have only the language that has developed over centuries and influenced by many other cultures as the language now spoken in Egypt. Sanskrit is a language that can still be spoken today in a way that does not differ much from the original, and Akkadian, the language of Ancient Mesopotamia can still be heard in the Zarathustran traditions of the Parsis. The language that developed under the influence of Taurus is no longer present. This is significant in that the influence of Taurus was about all language and the ability to find language again, not about the language of the dominant culture. There is something in all language today that needs to be rescued, something that has been lost. We have a task to find again something of what each language can convey. The tendency is for each generation to break down the language somewhat and make it somewhat less comprehensible. Teenagers limit vocabulary and truncate language, which is natural, but this should not reflect the trend of the languages that are generally used in society. The aim should always be to find the richness that exists in each language.
In a real sense we, as human beings can still tap into the experience of the Ancient Cultures that have been described. Now it will be interesting to find what the seeds are that these constellations have left for the next time they become the influencing constellation through the earth’s axis again being directed towards them. Beginning with Taurus, which has a strong influence on our capacity to speak and on our speech, we will in the future develop the capacity to generate life through the organ of speech, the larynx. Already we can experience that speech can give rise to reality. Should one meet someone who persists in saying that they cannot do something, they cannot do it because they have spoken it into a kind of reality for themselves. We also know that the opposite is true, which is the currency of motivational speakers, that we can speak ourselves into capacities far greater than we thought possible. It is through speaking it that the innate capacity becomes accessible. In this we can find a seed for the future influence of Taurus. Taurus will have this influence in the first epoch of the seventh Great Cycle of Time. It will launch us into the last of our Great Earth Cycles.
We can see the influence of Gemini in the tension that exists in gender constructs. Gender has a lot to do with how we identify ourselves and is not a biological definition of two poles. Between the poles there is a full spectrum and a fluidity that should exist, because, as human beings, we bear within us the full human expression. Our task is to come to terms with the human fullness of both in our identity. It should not be a requirement that we adopt only one identity and leave out those other identities that are part of the whole experience of being a human being. There are a lot of questions arising as to how we manage ourselves. The answers are not necessarily easy nor are they the only answer. There are other ways that we can start looking. When Rudolf Steiner first developed a plan for the first Waldorf School that ran from class 1 to class 8, he gave the preparatory lectures to four men and four women and he assigned them from class 1 to class 8 in alternating genders. He did this very consciously knowing the strength of identification with the class teacher. The class above and the class below bracketed the experience of the children in one class. Also the balance of male and female teachers provided a balance in the general experience of gender as there are things that men, for example, will never experience and therefore have less of an understanding for. There are a lot of institutionalised experiences that bring up the questions of gender today. The first experience of Gemini was not to split the human being but rather to wake up in one human being a sense of male and female, to wake up in one human being a sense of wholeness that would not exist without being able to see a reflection of oneself. The question that would arise is how to work with me when I look in the spiritual mirror and see where I am. This is the idea of Gemini. Those who have come before us and have taken up the task of scholastic philosophy, such as Thomas Aquinas, suggest, if not directly state, that in time, as the human being evolves, the sacraments will no longer be needed because the full grace of the reality of the sacrament will become a part of us constitutionally. We will be born into human bodies that have that, and will no longer be in need of it. The sacrament that we will need the longest, because we have not yet done it for ourselves, is the sacrament of marriage. The coming together again of the female and male principle within one human being is the last thing we will achieve. The great marriage of our lives is within ourselves. The task of reconciling the parts of ourselves can often be facilitated by having a life-partner who can reflect aspects that we need. An essential element of Gemini is not only being able to see the twin but also to have the capacity to recognise the twin. This is the power in Adam meeting Eve for the first time. He sees her and also recognises her, she is not a reflection of Adam, but he recognises that she is “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh”. It is a different aspect of me that helps me to understand me, because I can see you. This becomes an essential component of how we go forward. Now we can better understand the highest of the twelve senses: recognising the “I” of the other. This is another way of saying that we recognise the Christ in the other. The force of the “I” is a force of the Christ in us. We can recognise that the other is a Christ being, an “I” being and not merely a projection of ourselves onto the other person. What will it be in the future when we can recognise ourselves and recognise the other? Gemini will be the constellation that has its influence in the last epoch of the sixth Great Cycle of Time. We will end the sixth Great Cycle with a reconciliation before we find our new creative capacity. We will reconcile ourselves as a whole human being before our creativity comes out of us, without there being a need to partner with another to be creative. We partner with ourselves in the act of creation.
One of the seeds of Cancer for our future is truly coming to terms with being an earth being. We already feel ourselves housed, but how do we become the house? How do we know that this is where we actually are? The seed comes in the form that we are no longer in ourselves in an act of external worship – only when we enter the temple can we worship – we already understand that we carry the temple in us. We are bringing the sense of what it means to be human into ourselves to the extent that the temple lives in us. We have done enough incorporating that, when we get to this stage, being an earth being is a reality, even when we are not on earth. In other words, earth is no longer the environment in which we live, it will be the reality in us. Quite what this will be is still a mystery. We will no longer say: “I am here on the earth”, but will be able to say: “I am here as the earth”. It will be so much more than feeling oneself as one with nature, which is because the earth is infused with the Being of Christ that we can feel something that is re-enlivening in nature. This will become a strong and rich experience for our future, what it means to know ourselves, always, even in Great, Great Cycles to come, as beings who have incorporated the experience of earth so strongly in themselves that instead of being carried by the earth, in the future we carry the earth in us.
These are some ideas of where the constellation have been, how they have influenced our development and where we are with them now and where these mighty constellations will be taking us into the future.
Reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The second talk on this topic was to introduce the changes in translation to the Creed and why they were necessary.
The talk was presented on the first Sunday of the first period of Trinity of the year. The Trinity Epistle, which was heard in the Act of Consecration, is quite remarkable because it establishes a theology. A perspective on the Divine becomes apparent in this epistle. The epistle speaks to each aspect of the Trinity and at the end of the first line relating to each aspect of the Divine a word appears. The phrases in which this word appears are: “Conscious”; “In experiencing”; and “In grasping”. Each time the word “humanity” is spoken, and we begin to understand something about being human. We appreciate, in hearing this epistle, that we are in the process of becoming human. We can call ourselves a human being, but we have as yet not reached the fulfilment of the idea of humanity. We are still on a journey to reaching the ultimate goal of being human. We are in the process, not only of being human, but of becoming human.
We can also gain a strong sense of this in our baptismal sacrament. In the Sacrament of Baptism we hear, addressed to the congregation the full three-folded human being expressed in the whole community: thinking, feeling and willing (and it the human willing, the willing of a human being, someone who is free). We hear that this soul (of the child that has been baptised) may be, grow and become in the Christ community. We are being, growing and becoming. We are in process.
We have in the Trinity Epistle a wonderful building picture of what it is to be human.
Whenever we encounter language we always encounter limitations. Certain languages have fewer limitations. English has a number of limitations because it is a very adoptive language. The history of English informs us of how it has adopted in its adaptation. There was an original language spoken on the island that we now refer to as England, Wales and Scotland. That was Celtic, probably similar to Cymraeg spoken in Wales today. The Danes invaded the island and brought Old Norse to England. The Romans invaded and the influences of Latin were brought to the island. Then the Angles and the Saxons invaded, who were north Germanic tribes and brought their language. The language spoken on the island became Anglo-Saxon with the Saxons dominating over the Angles so that the language was a Germanic dialect with influences of the Old Norse, elements of the original Celtic and influences of Latin. In 1066CE the island was invaded by a Viking who spoke what is known as middle-French, or Norman French because it was the French spoken in Normandy where William was the duke. After 1066 the people in control of the island spoke Norman French. We see this most clearly when we look at the names of bishops of the churches. We encounter Edward, Ethelred, Edgar as common names under the Angle-Saxons and then the names change to become Felix and Guy under the Normans. The influence of French entered the Angle-Saxon through vocabulary (not through the structure of the language). Words from the French were adopted and new words were developed. English has continued to be the most adoptive and adaptive language in the present day. English keeps incorporating words, unlike other languages which have language institutes that try to preserve the language and protect it from external influence. Every year a new set of words are added to the English dictionary, even though they have no connecting to the origins of English.
As a consequence of English being such an adoptive language there are limitation to English. It also means that the meaning of words change and they acquire a meaning that they did not originally have. These words then become stumbling blocks, especially to the modern ear because we hear the word not in its denotation (its dictionary meaning) but rather in its connotation (how it is understood in everyday speech). One of the problems in English is the word ‘man’. The word has its origins from the Proto-Indo-European word ‘men’ that signified ‘mind’, ‘thinking’, ‘intelligence’ as we still find in the word ‘mental’. It was in the 11th century CE that the word ‘man’ in Germanic languages began to denote primarily the adult male. Originally the Germanic word for the male adult was ‘wer’ from the Latin ‘vir’ (‘Vir’ has the sense of adult male human being - Dictionary.com) (from which we derive virile). This word was completely replaced by ‘man’ by the end of the 13th century. We have lost the connection to ‘man’ representing all of humanity. Fortunately, the pronunciation of human (hjuːmən) does not contain the sound of the word ‘man’. Therefore, when we hear the word ‘human’ it is gender-neutral and applies equally to all genders and to every other way in which human beings express themselves.
Therefore, when the word ‘man’ is heard in the Act of Consecration it becomes problematic for some people. They hear only a reference to a male person and not to all of humanity. This leaves the person with an uncomfortable feeling, and they are unable to appreciate what we are attempting to describe. This is something that we do not wish to have occur. We want it to be clear. We want to use words that make it clear what we are saying and does not make it difficult for others to grasp. Already in the United States and in Australia the sacrament is referred to as the Act of the Consecration of the Human Being. This makes it clear that it is an act of consecration for all human beings. It is an act of consecration of the Human Being, singular; in other words, of the ideal of the Human Being, the one we are becoming.
In Southern Africa we will be making changes to the words of the Creed from the beginning of Passiontide to make it clearer what they mean. We are attaching these changes to the idea that we hear in the epistle at Trinity time: humanity! It is about our humanity. We have a clear innate understanding of what it means to be human. This becomes very clear for us when we witness acts that are so horrendous that we fail to see any humanity in these acts, we recognise that they are devoid of humanity. Our aim is for our Creed to reflect our humanity simply in ways that are not confusing, are not confused by the words used.
There will be three word changes that everyone will become aware of in the Creed from Passiontide.
The first, is one that may go almost unnoticed. It occurs in the fourth statement of the Creed:
The change that will come is the changing of ‘mankind’ to ‘humankind’:
In so doing we make it very clear. It is already a term that appears in a number of the inserted prayers that are prayed at the various seasons of the year. An example was read from the epistle we hear at St John’s Tide.
The second change will occur in the last statements of the Creed:
The emphasis is on the continuation of the human being. The change reads:
The third change will occur in the third statement:
The meaning of this statement has always raised a question. When one reads the Gospels these books provide a theology, an understanding of the Divine. Some churches read and interpret the theology that because Christ entered a male human being, only male human beings may be priests. This theology is not the theology of The Christian Community. The Christian Community has always understood that the fundamental incarnation mystery is the incarnation into a human being, that gender was not an essential element in this mystery. The change will read:
This will help to clarify the essence of the incarnation. The Divine, through this incarnation, united the Divine with the whole human being, for all human beings. This becomes clear when the Holy Spirit is given. Tradition has it that those gathered in the Upper Room when the Spirit arrived were the Twelve and Mary. From the very beginning the Spirit was for all human Beings. After the Spirit is given in the Upper Room it is given to all who follow. We realise that it is the whole of humanity that is called into this relationship with Christ.
The aim is that people who hear the liturgy of The Christian Community can hear the true substance and not be distracted by a language that sounds as though it belongs to a hundred years ago. The language is always only a bridge to grasping the essence of something, which goes beyond language. We hope to understand the idea in its purest spiritual form. The language used should therefore not be distraction hindering this but should rather help to open it up.
In due course the rest of the ritual texts will also be revised to aid this understanding of our humanity as human beings without a distraction referencing gender.
The change that occurred some years ago when ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ was replaced with ‘you’ helped to make the relationship to the Divine more personal and real. Many felt a dignity in the old words, but we do not lose dignity when we hear the liturgy in the language that we speak. We also must not forget the major step that occurred during the Protestant Reformation when the language of the liturgy became the language of the people rather than Latin, which no one spoke and was exclusive to the church. Latin was seen as a sacred language of mystery and religion, and it was unthinkable to hear the words spoken in the language of everyday speech. But it makes the mystery more approachable and understandable for those who hear the words.
We have a modern, human language as the base language in The Christian Community, which is German. Our task in all languages is to translate the texts as best we can into the languages spoken by the people. In making the changes, previously and now, we are not changing what the original German says, but rather continually attempting to make the original German clearer in the other spoken languages. The texts are not being changed. This is an agreement that all the priests have, but the aim is to translate the text in the very best way possible, and to remain relevant to the development of the languages into which the texts are translated.
It is easier to make the changes in translation to the Creed because the text of the Creed was not gifted to us by the Spiritual World. Rudolf Steiner made it very clear that the text of the rituals was not from him but rather gifted to us through him. When it came to the Creed, Steiner made it clear that he had wrestled with this to find the best expression for it. The Creed is that part of the Act of Consecration of Man where the priest speaks in his or her humanity. It is the congregation who is speaking – the priest speaking it on behalf of the congregation – how we, in our humanity understand that which was described in the first of these two talks. It is at this point that the priest removes the vestment of priesthood, the stole, and speaks the Creed entirely as a human being.
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by Rev. Michaël Merle
In Chapter 21 of The Revelation to John (The Book of the Apocalypse: Revelation) we read part of the description of the New Jerusalem, a picture of a mighty vision experienced by John in the Spiritual World: “The city has a great and high wall and twelve gates. And on the gates twelve angels, and names were written on them: the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.” (verse 12)
This year we hope to uncover an understanding of the twelve ways in which we can enter the New Jerusalem.
The way of Simeon:
The second son of Jacob, Simeon, represents the way of confrontation. This is often misunderstood as conflict, and certainly Simeon found himself as a fighter or warrior in conflict with others. But the true significance of the path he opens up for us is the way of facing the other and facing the truth, as well as the deep significance of facing ourselves – confronting our problems, anxieties and areas of distress. We can easily deny or disregard those facets of ourselves we find problematic and concerning. We are also very good at making excuses for our behaviour, attitudes and actions. The strength to face the reality of ourselves and the world takes courage. Simeon presents us with the courage to face adversity and the obstacles of life. We cannot hope to overcome issues or build resilience or manage and resolve a situation if we are not first willing to face the problem or challenge. The symbol of Simeon is often that of the entrance to a walled city. We may choose to regard it as the picture of the way through a barrier or obstacle, the opening through which we can enter that place of peace, resolution and solution.
Some thoughts and observations for consideration by Rev. Michaël Merle
Candlemas is a Christian holiday commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It is also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Feast of the Holy Encounter. It is traditionally celebrated in the Christian tradition on 2 February. This date is significant in that it ties together important numbers that speak to periods of preparation and culmination. The two significant numbers here are 33 and 40. In accordance with Leviticus 12, a woman was to be purified by presenting a lamb as a burnt offering, and either a young pigeon or dove as a sin offering, 33 days after a boy's circumcision. Counting from the night of December 24th into Christmas Day this falls on 2 February, which is traditionally the 40th day (postpartum period) of and the conclusion of the Christmas–Epiphany season. While it is customary for Christians in some traditions to remove their Christmas decorations on Twelfth Night (Epiphany Eve), those in some other Christian traditions historically remove them after Candlemas. On Candlemas, many Christians (especially Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans and Methodists) also bring their candles to their local church, where they are blessed and then used for the rest of the year (hence the name: Candlemas). These blest candles can then serve as a symbol of Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the World, and are usually used as prayer candles. The significance of 40 relates to a gestation (a human approximately 9 month – in reality: 40 week – gestation). There are many biblical references to this number: the days and nights of the Great Flood, the years wandering in the desert before arriving at the Promised Land, the days of the journey of Elijah to the Mountain of God, the days of fasting in the desert after The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. The number 33 relates directly to the sacrifice of The Lamb of God: the age of Jesus, bearer of the Christ, at The Mystery of Golgotha (The Easter Mystery of Death and Resurrection). With our 4 Sunday-week long season of Epiphany, the latest date for the 4th Sunday of Epiphany would be 2 February. After this time we enter into a period between the seasons of the Father: Advent-Christmas-Epiphany, and the seasons of the Son: Passiontide-Easter-Ascension.
Gospel Study of Luke's Gospel
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The Gospel Study began the study of the Gospel of Luke in the second half of 2022. In following the eight-fold path that Luke lays out in his gospel, as he explains that he will do in his opening introductory paragraph: set things in a certain order, we arrived at the Confession of Peter which encapsulates the first three paths. Christ asks the disciples: “… and who do you say that I am?” What is it that you understand (Right Understanding) from your thinking (Right Thinking) of who I am (Right Speech)?
We looked closely at the Transfiguration described by Luke. Michaël pointed out a difficulty in translation. This incident should start with “after eight days” and not “after about eight days”. The number eight is very significant. In the Hebrew tradition Creation was accomplished in seven days. The eighth day is thus the beginning of a new cycle of seven, but it is more than that. Holy Week is a recapitulation of Creation that ends with the human being on the cross before the seventh day. The seventh day is the day of rest. In this case the day of descending into the Underworld. The eighth day is Easter, the first day of the week, and the first day of a new beginning. It is the octave – taking creation to a higher level.
The vision of the Transfiguration which the disciples see is a prefiguring of what is to come. It is at once a reality but as yet not realised in a way that can always be seen (witnessed), hence it cannot remain in the everyday vision of the disciples; Peter, James and John. In Luke’s gospel the disciples fall asleep and wake up. They wake up just as Adam awoke after God put him into a sleep: he awoke to a new sense of himself, i.e. that a part of himself has been separated out and now stood before him as Eve. The disciples awake to a new sense of themselves and they realise that what they have seen cannot yet be spoken about (Right Speech). In the telling of the Transfiguration by Matthew, there is an instruction given to the disciples to not speak about this event. Luke wishes it to be clear that through Right Speech the individual discerns for himself what is the right speech and when is it right to be silent.
There are two men speaking with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Moses led the Israelites in the desert for forty years. Elijah ran away from his mission into the desert for forty days. Jesus spent forty days in the desert after the Baptism. The number forty is the period of gestation (a human gestation is 40 weeks). It serves as a number for the recognition of an initiation. Moses brought the law; Elijah found the Divine in the ‘small slender silence’ at the opening in the cave on the mountain. The disciples see speaking with Jesus that with which the Christ is working: the law and its fulfilment – bringing the outer into the inner relationship.
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