Deathday of a Modern Knight

Dear Friends –
Today 30 March 2017, marks the 93rd anniversary of Rudolf Steiner’s Death
25 February 1861 – 30 March 1925

From “The Life and Work of Rudolf Steiner’ by Guenther Wachsmuth: “Even the last weeks in March 1925, during which he had to endure unspeakable suffering, were devoted in the most intense concentration to spiritual research, creative work, & bestowal…

…the beginning of his shared anthroposophical work with Marie von Sivers stood before his inner eye. It had not been easy for Marie Steiner to live with the increasing intense collaboration between Rudolf Steiner & Ita Wegman over the course of the last few years. Ita Wegman was so entirely different than she was. Now she was forced to deny herself the opportunity to care for the person she loved the most. Trouble with her legs inhibited her from doing this. That they had spoken about this with each other is evident from a letter he wrote her in Berlin on his official birthday:

“I write you these lines at about the same time that you would usually be sitting at my side. Thinking about how beautiful it is to listen to you speck about your activities & to speak with you about various aspects of your work moves me deeply. And when I know that you have now & again been able to read my Autobiography the description of our shared work, I feel deeply how closely connected we are. That destiny has brought other people close to me is simply the way destiny works. And my sickness has shown just how incisive this destiny can be. But you found the way to understanding; this is a blessing for me. To feel the unity of feeling & thinking in discernment is something I can do only with you. That I was not able to show you the last pages of the Steffen article before it went to the printer was a hardship for me. Then for myself, I find inner competence only in your judgement. Through you art is raised into the realms of the hierarchies. I gaze with wonder upon everything you achieve & with such devotion. In my thoughts I am with you” RS

Shielded under the devoted care of Dr. Ita Wegman, he still communicated many a spiritual message received, & he had us to report to him what was occurring on the hill of Dornach. He loved the living noise of hammering & scaffold-building which penetrated from the building place of the Goetheanum into the quiet of his sickroom, announcing the building in the process of coming into being. He was united through his council & help with this work to his last breath & beyond death.

The last moments in his earthly life were free from all struggle with the physical entity, free from all uncertainty such as characterizes the death of so many human beings; his countenance spoke of peace, grace, inner certitude, spiritual vision. He folded his hands over his breast; his eyes were shiningly & strongly directed into worlds with which in vision he was united. As he drew his last breath, he himself closed his eyes; but this filled the room not with the experience of an end, but with that of a most sublime spiritual action. An exalted, transfigured wakefulness spoke out of his countenance, out of the praying strength of the hands. As the great artists of the Middle Ages gave to the pictures of the knights resting upon the sarcophagus the expression indicating that their closed eyes were still beholding, their resting form was still able to stride forward, so did the figure here resting speak of a super-terrestrial wakefulness, of a striding forward into the spheres of the spirit.

The forward striding figure of the Christ statue, pointing into the expanses of the universe, which he himself had created & at whose feet he now lay, spoke for the eye of those left behind on earth what was taking place for the spirit of a great human being who had dedicated his life to the annunciation of the Christ. Even in dying, Rudolf Steiner bestowed upon humanity the most sublime gift of consolation: the certitude that death is a waking entrance into worlds of life & action.

From Ita Wegman Nachrichtenblatt 1925: “At 3 am, I noticed a slight change in his breathing. I approached his bed; he was awake. He looked at me & asked whether I was tired. This question touched me. His pulse was not as strong as it had been, but much faster. I called Dr. Noll in order to speak with him about what ought to be done. Herr Steiner was not astonished to see him there in the middle of the night & greeted him amiably. “I don’t feel too bad” he said “I just can’t sleep.” We turned the light out again. At 4 am, he called me because the pain had reappeared. He said, “As soon as the day comes, we want to continue the treatment that I suggested”…Naturally, we didn’t wait for the day to come but did what was necessary. But then the situation changed quickly – his pulse grew weaker, his breathing more rapid. And we had to experience how his life was gradually extinguished…He went as though it were the obvious thing to do. It seemed to me as though the dice had been thrown for a last decision. When they fell, there was no struggle, no attempt to remain upon the earth any longer. He gazed calmly into the space before him for a time, said a couple of tender words to me, consciously closed his eyes & folded his hands”

Again from “The Life and Work of Rudolf Steiner’ by Guenther Wachsmuth: In the lofty darkened space of the studio stood the bier of him who had completed this earthly life, surrounded by a sea of flowers, by the light of candles, the death watch by his side day & night. Many hundreds of persons came in soundless silence for the last visit, went back into life comforted, trusting, having received in their affliction assurance of the virtuousness of the Spirit, of rebirth. On the 3rd day the body was brought into the great workshop, to lie in state finally in the lecture hall, at the place from which he had for decades proclaimed the knowledge of the spirit. At the request of Frau Marie Steiner, Fredrich Rittelmeyer conducted the funeral service which was the gift of Rudolf Steiner to the Christian Community.

The next morning the coffin was carried away for cremation. When it was passing by the newly erected structure of the new Goetheanum, the workers at the building stood still on the scaffolding & greeted the master builder & friend. At the cremation ritual, Albert Steffen united us with our beloved teacher in a picture of his being which only the artist could draw in such shining perfection. He spoke of “the friend of God and leader of humanity”. And what has come into being in us earthly persons through the leadership & schooling of Rudolf Steiner as a certitude, what we are called upon to do in his spirit, he summarized in the following words:

“He has again showed the world to us in such a way that we know it has come forth out of god. He has died in such a way that we feel: Christ lives in this death. May his immortal Spirit be resurrected in our deeds. We will, as well as we can, make them holy.”

“To create centres of peace & love in which the Christ can resurrect.”
~written on the urn that holds the ashes of Rudolf Steiner

What a blessing to receive the teachings of this great initiate. May we continue our connection with him in the spiritual worlds & ever enliven our Michaelic work with The Christ & the Being of Anthroposophia.

~Hazel Archer-Ginsberg

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