Category Archives: Insight

The fires of perhaps

15 November 2017 – Astro-Weather: Did you feel it? This morning in your hypnogogic state, that sacred place between sleeping & waking, as the dawn brightened,the thin waning crescent Moon may have nudged you with her horns, reaching out to try & cradle Mars, high above Jupiter, with Spica in between. Venus, the Sophia of the skies, nestled just left of the wise king Jupiter, gracing the horizon; calling you to join the cosmic dance..?


 Rudolf Steiner’s Lectures on this day 


Tommaso da Modena

1280 – Death & Feast Day of Albertus Magnus, a German Catholic Dominican friar & bishop, theologian, & philosopher, one of the founders of Scholasticism. Canonized as a saint, one of the 36 Doctors of the Catholic Church. He was known during his lifetime as Doctor Universalis & Doctor Expertus.

Albertus was the first to comment on virtually all of the writings of Aristotle, making them accessible to wider academic debate. The study of Aristotle brought him to take an interest in the teachings of Muslim academics, notably Avicenna & Averroes.

Albertus took part in the General Chapter of the Dominicans at Valenciennes together with Thomas Aquinas establishing a program for the Dominicans that featured the study of philosophy. This innovation initiated the tradition of Dominican scholastic philosophy put into practice, for example at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the “Angelicum

Albert’s writings went to 38 volumes, displaying his prolific habits & encyclopedic knowledge of topics such as logic, theology, botany, geography, astronomy, astrology, mineralogy, alchemy, zoology, physiology, phrenology, justice, law, friendship, & love. He digested, interpreted, & systematized the whole of Aristotle’s works, gleaned from the Latin translations & notes of the Arabian commentators. Most modern knowledge of Aristotle was preserved and presented by Albertus.

According to legend, Albertus is said to have discovered the philosopher’s stone & passed it on to his pupil Thomas Aquinas, shortly before his death.

Among the last of his labors was the defense of the orthodoxy of his former pupil, Thomas Aquinas, whose death grieved him deeply.

Albertus is known for his commentary on the musical practice of his times. Most of his written musical observations are found in his commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics

“Essentially speaking, the task of the time which lies between the fourth and the fifteenth century was, therefore, the development of a technique of thinking. This thinking activity has now adopted a definite attitude in regard to man’s cognitive faculty towards the contents of the world. We may say: Spirits such as Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas have set forth the position of man’s thinking activity towards the contents of the world in a manner which was, at that time, quite incontestable.

How do their descriptions appear to us?

Thinkers such as Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas had dogmatically preserved truths which originated from old traditions, but their meaning could no longer be grasped. To begin with, these truths had to be protected as contents of a supernatural revelation, which at that time was more or less equivalent to a super-sensible revelation. The Church preserved these revelations through its authority and teachings, and people thought that the dogmas of the Church contained the revelations connected with the super-sensible worlds. They were to accept what was offered in these dogmas, they were to accept it as a revelation which could not be touched by human reason, that is to say, by the human intellect. The Dual Form of Cognition During the Middle Ages and the Development of Knowledge in Modern Times” ~ A Lecture By Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, August 5, 1921, GA 206


1630 – Deathday of Johannes Kepler, German astronomer & mathematician

“Johannes Kepler was as much a natural scientist of an earlier time as of a later one. He drew his thoughts from external observation, but in his inner experience he had an absolute feeling that spiritual Beings are there when man is receiving his thoughts from Nature. Kepler felt himself to be partly an Initiate, and for him it was a matter of course that he experienced his abstract building up of the universe artistically”. ~Rudolf Steiner, The Younger generation

“It cannot be denied that such spirits formerly imparted their oracular sayings to men through idols and oak-trees, out of groves and grottoes, through animals and so on; and sooth-saying from the flight of birds was not merely an art of deceiving the weak. Those spirits were active in guiding the birds through the air, and by this means, with God’s permission, much was intimated to men in former times. Even today we hear stories of fateful birds, such as owls, vultures, eagles, ravens, but the more such stories are despised, the rarer they become. For these spirits cannot bear being despised, as according to the law of God and Christian teaching, they certainly deserve to be: they prefer to fly away and keep silent. From the beginning the lying Tempter was allowed to speak through animals: he spoke to Eve through the serpent and thus he led the human race astray. That was always the way of these spirits from then onwards: whenever they could speak to men through the bodies and movements of animals, through voices or portents, they misused this power, appropriating for themselves the reverence due to God and misleading unhappy men. And now, although Christ came to destroy the work of the Devil, and imposed silence on these spirits, and although they lost their temple-statues, their groves and their caves and the earth they had so long possessed, yet they are always here still in the empty air, and with God’s permission they utter their scattered cries. Often they are God’s scourges; often he allows certain things to be announced through them to men.”

The author of these words gives a gentle indication of how the spiritual revelations come to be permeated by Christ, for he writes in a frame of mind that can truly be called Christ-filled. In 1607 he spoke thus of the changes that had come about in the spiritual world. Who is this man? Is he someone who has no right to speak, someone we can leave unheard? No, for without him we should have no modern Astronomy or Physics: he is Johannes Kepler. And one would like to advise those who call themselves materialists or monists and look to Kepler as their idol — one would like to advise them to consider carefully, just for once, this passage in Kepler’s writings. The greatest astronomical laws, the three Kepler laws, which dominate present-day Astronomy, are his. Yet you have heard how he speaks of the new influence which gradually enters into Earth evolution with the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. We must all again get accustomed by degrees — having thoroughly absorbed the new influence — to recognise something of the spiritual activities connected with the stars. ~Rudolf Steiner, Christ and the Spiritual World: The Search for the Holy Grail

On February 4, 1600, Kepler met Tycho Brahe, he stayed as a guestin his observatory, analyzing some of Tycho’s observations of Mars; Tycho guarded his data closely, but was impressed by Kepler’s theoretical ideas & soon allowed him more access. Through most of 1601, he was supported directly by Tycho, who assigned him to analyzing planetary observations . Tycho secured him a commission as a collaborator on the new project he had proposed to the emperor. Two days after Tycho’s unexpected death on October 24, 1601, Kepler was appointed his successor as imperial mathematician with the responsibility to complete his unfinished work. The next 11 years as imperial mathematician would be the most productive of his life.

Kepler slowly continued analyzing Tycho’s Mars observations—now available to him in their entirety—& began the slow process of tabulating the Rudolphine Table.

In October 1604, a bright new evening star appeared, but Kepler did not believe the rumors until he saw it himself. Kepler began systematically observing the nova. Astrologically, the end of 1603 marked the beginning of a fiery trigon, the start of the about 800-year cycle of great conjunctions; astrologers associated the two previous such periods with the rise of Charlemagne (c. 800 years earlier) & the birth of Christ (c. 1600 years earlier), & so expected events of great portent, especially regarding the emperor. It was in this context, as the imperial mathematician & astrologer to the emperor, that Kepler described the new star two years later in his De Stella Nova. The birth of a new star implied the variability of the heavens. In an appendix, Kepler also discussed the recent chronology work of the Polish historian Laurentius Suslyga; he calculated that, if Suslyga was correct that accepted timelines were four years behind, then the Star of Bethlehem—analogous to the present new star—would have coincided with the first great conjunction of the earlier 800-year cycle

In 1611, the growing political-religious tension in Prague came to a head. Emperor Rudolph—whose health was failing—was forced to abdicate as King of Bohemia by his brother Matthias. However, it was clear that Kepler’s future prospects in the court of Matthias were dim.

In 1615, Kepler’s mother Katharina was accused of witchcraft.

Kepler’s laws of planetary motion were not immediately accepted. Several major figures such as Galileo and René Descartes completely ignored Kepler’s Astronomia nova. Epitome of Copernican Astronomy was read by astronomers throughout Europe, & following Kepler’s death it was the main vehicle for spreading Kepler’s ideas. In the period 1630 – 1650, this book was the most widely used astronomy textbook, winning many converts to ellipse-based astronomy. This culminated in Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687), in which Newton derived Kepler’s laws of planetary motion from a force-based theory of universal gravitation.

Kepler’s self-authored poetic epitaph: “I measured the skies, now the shadows I measure – Skybound was the mind, earthbound the body rests


1670 – Deathday of John Amos Comenius, Czech bishop, philosopher, & educator.

“Our task is to appeal to those forces which we have as a replacement for the ancient way of grasping the spiritual. There are two ways of doing this. One way is to continue to propagate tradition and many secret societies arose from being satisfied with the propagation of what the ancient said through tradition. However, there were people who attempted to reckon with the new soul forces which came in as replacements for it. They attempted to translate that which came in from the ancient way in the form of pictures, of direct perception into the form of intellectual power, this intellect which is bound to the physical body of our 5th post-Atlantean period. One of the people who tried to do this was Amos Comenius.

Very few people today know that Amos Comenius was the actual founder of the modern pedagogy and that he founded the primer in the 16th, 17th century…The whole way of writing children’s books rests upon Amos Comenius. He was connected with many secret brotherhoods all over Europe and he wanted to establish what he called his “Pan Sophia”. In the beginning of our period, in the 16th, 17th century, we have in Amos Comenius a human being who knew that now is the time for a sudden change, that one must transmute all the knowledge from earlier times into the form of external intellect. You do not simply continue it in the form of the ancient tradition. This tradition rests upon that which was the Temple architecture. Amos Comenius had as his task translating in his “Pan Sophia” everything which worked in the 5th post-Atlantean period and he says the following: “Why should the Temple of Pan Sophia be erected according to the ideas, directions and laws of the higher architect Himself? Because we have to follow the primal picture of the totality; measure, number, position and the goal of the paths according to the wisdom of God, Himself, when, indeed, He instructed Moses to erect the Tabernacle, then Solomon to erect the Temple and finally Ezekial to reestablish the Temple. The structure materials of Solomon’s Temple were very precious stones, metals, marble and sappy, good smelling trees like spruce and cedar.” And so we want to establish a school of wisdom, a universal wisdom, a “Pan Sophia” wisdom so that one can say that that which is in Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister, which was represented in the Wander Years, is a continuation of what Amos Comenius wanted.” ~Rudolf Steiner, Things in Past and Present in the Spirit of Man

1738 – Birthday of William Herschel, German-born British astronomer, the founder of sidereal astronomy for the systematic observation of the heavens. He discovered the planet Uranus, hypothesized that nebulae are composed of stars, & developed a theory of stellar evolution. He was knighted in 1816.

1741 – Birthday of Johann Kaspar Lavater, a Swiss poet, writer, philosopher, physiognomist & theologian. Goethe was a dear friend for many years, but later had a falling out with him, accusing Lavater of superstition & hypocrisy.

 Tony Vaccaro 

1887 – Birthday of Georgia O’Keeffe, American painter & educator

1893 – Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy of Freedom (Spiritual Activity) 1st appears


POD (Poem Of the Day)

~A glimmer caught
My eye I
Turned to see the primal warmth
In the fires of perhaps
A beacon of human possibility
Etched in the bones of my skull
At the edge of
Peripheral vision
That I might
Re-collect my Self


Monday November 27th- 7 pm – 9 pm Open Community Conversation at the Rudolf Steiner Branch of the Anthroposophical Society in Chicago 4248 N. Lincoln Ave.

After our gathering in September with General Secretary John Bloom, & Daniel Evaeus, from Elderberries, many folks made it known that they would like to continue to meet once a month to discuss how to best serve Anthroposophia & the various Steiner initiatives in Chicago. At the October meeting, which was part of the All Souls Festival, the idea was shared that perhaps we might also include some biographies of great Chicagoans to help inspire us.

For this November meeting, Biography Worker, Paulette Arnold, will offer up some research into the Chicago personality, Studs Terkel, & lead us in a biography exercise.


We will also share the latest developments about Elderberries Chicago!

And as always, the floor will be open for a community conversation. All are welcome. Snacks to share encouraged.