A Blessing & a Curse

In thinking what we three (Angela Foster, Timothy Kennedy & me) would offer to the Sophia Community Circle for November, it fell together that we would write a love poem to Sophia.

1st offering From ~hag:
When does the past
Become the present?
~When the outside is within~
When does the poem
Become a song?
~When the Virgin is free & fruitful~
And in the Speaking?
Do the Stars move
Us toward the future?
~Only when the riddle key unlocks a world Whitsun~
And in the Standing
Between thinking & willing
Can the spark of feeling
Feed the font of Wisdom wrested ?
~Only when the Mother has washed the 7 veils into white garments~
Becomes Love
on the boats of spirit-knowledge
To awaken in human souls Isis-Sophia Wisdom of God”

The 2nd poem fashioned by using pieces from all 3 poems:

I am writing a love poem for my Sophia.
The 3 into 1 ~hag
Am I a body
In you
Sculpting a grand canyon
An outer shell easily removed
With the art of living..?
Your gravity calls.
And in the standing
I set out
A walking ocean
Smooth & butter-colored
Split stillness
Water-fall tossed
Vast & never far away.
What is your Will..?
Is there room
For wind & weaving in the dark –
A riddle ripple in mediating rhythm
For the reflection
Of humble stars
& tragic paradoxes of Love..?
Feed the font of Wisdom wrested
Surrendering color to the light.
Sing the sonnet of Spirit-Self –
To wash the 7 veils white
Be – Coming
I pray
Let my stream
Of-consciousness bee
Poem enough.

The 3rd communal Poem (only words that appeared in all 3 poems):
To Sophia
A Love poem
Becoming Will
In gravity
A waterfall
I am

Listen on the ‘I Think Speech Podcast

4 November 2021 – “Speaking with the Stars”: New Moon Moon-Mercury conjunction

 Rudolf Steiner’s Lectures on this day 

 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, sourced from ~historyextra, docuwiki, skyandtelescope,

Wolfgang Amadeus & his wife Constanze Weber

1783 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 is performed for the first time in Linz, Austria. The Linz Symphony was written during a stopover in the Austrian town of Linz on back home to Vienna from Salzburg with his wife. The entire symphony was written in four days to accommodate the local count’s announcement, upon hearing of the Mozarts’ arrival in Linz, of a concert.

1847 – Deathday of Felix Mendelssohn, a German composer, pianist, organist & conductor. His best-known works include his Overture & incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the oratorio Elijah, the overture The Hebrides, his mature Violin Concerto, & his String Octet. The melody for the Christmas carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is also his. Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words are his most famous solo piano compositions.

A grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn was born into a prominent Jewish family. He was brought up without religion until the age of seven, when he was baptized as a Reformed Christian. Felix was recognized early as a musical prodigy, but his parents were cautious & did not seek to capitalize on his talent.

1847 – Sir James Young Simpson, a Scottish physician, discovers the anaesthetic properties of chloroform

1922 – In Egypt, British archaeologist Howard Carter & Lord Carnarvon find the entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. ~historyextra

Howard Carter stood before a sealed door blocking a dark corridor. Behind him stood his patron Lord Carnarvon. Both men knew that they were standing in the tomb of the 18th-Dynasty boy king Tutankhamun – the sealing on the now dismantled outer door had made that clear. But the outer door had also shown the unmistakable signs of more than one forced entry. Was Tutankhamun still lying undisturbed in his tomb? Or had the ancient robbers once again thwarted the modern archaeologists? Nervously, his hands trembling, Carter forced a small hole in the left hand corner of the doorway, lit a candle, and peered inside.

Howard Carter pushed a candle through a hole he had made in a sealed tomb door and peeked inside. “Can you see anything?”, he was asked. “Yes, wonderful things”.

The most magnificent treasure of all — the pharaoh’s burial mask.

Carter had just discovered the tomb of an obscure 18th dynasty pharaoh, Tutankhamun. Piled high with a dazzling array of treasures, the contents would stun the world.

Carter and his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, had made the greatest discovery in the history of Egyptology — a fully intact 3000-year-old pharaoh’s tomb untouched by grave robbers.

The story was mesmerising. Henry Morton, the only journalist allowed on the excavation, filed a series of reports of Carter’s discoveries to the London Times. And they kept coming.

The tomb was so stuffed with treasures it took the team nearly 3 months to sort and catalog them all. But by February the next year, Carter and Carnarvon were ready to open the inner burial chamber that they hoped would contain the pharaoh himself.

Carter and Carnarvon at the entrance to the burial chamber

They were astonished by what they found — 3 solid gold coffins, nested inside of each other. Inside the final one was the mummy of boy king, Tutankhamun.

Shortly after the amazing discovery, tragedy struck. Lord Carnarvon fell ill and died after an insect bite went septic.

Rumours began to circulate that Carter and Carnarvon had found stone tablets in Tutankhamun’s tomb inscribed with a curse. Had Carnarvon been struck down by a pharaoh’s spell for daring to desecrate his burial place?

Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, thought so. Ironically for a man associated with the logical detective, Doyle was an ardent believer in the supernatural and declared that Carnarvon was struck dead for daring to disturb the young king.

Was this simply early tabloid sensationalism and wild imaginations or did a sinister curse doom those who dared enter the pharaoh’s last resting place?

Even before Carnarvon’s death, there was talk of impending doom.

The day Carter first discovered the entrance to the tomb, a cobra got into his house and killed his pet canary. Pharaohs were represented by the cobra, and Carter’s workers felt it an omen — do not enter.

Best-selling novelist Marie Corelli, quoting an ancient Arabic manuscript, told the press that — “the most dire punishment follows any rash intruder into a sealed tomb”.

Carter also received a rash of letters warning him not to proceed. The archeologist dismissed it all as nonsense, but when his benefactor Carnarvon died shortly later it sent the press into a frenzy.

It wasn’t entirely clear how he died, although the suggestion was that a mosquito bite had become infected when Carnarvon accidently nicked it whilst shaving. After a delirious fever, he succumbed on April 5th, 1923.

Carter, centre and Carnarvon, centre right, with party

More details emerged that encouraged the speculation. The night of his death, there was a black-out in Cairo and reportedly Carnarovan’s dog back in England let out a howl and dropped dead.

The press around the world had become obsessed by the idea Carnarvon was killed by a pharaoh’s curse. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle publically endorsed the idea.

A Los Angeles Times leader wrote — “No matter how little superstitious a man may be, the act of breaking the rest so carefully guarded through the centuries must cause an emotion which time can never efface”.

More deaths were to follow. A few weeks after Carnarvon’s death, Carter gave wealthy financier George J Gould a private tour of he tomb. Soon after, Gould came down with a fever and died.

Other early tomb visitors died violent or strange deaths within the year. Prince Ali Kemal Fahmy Bey and South African millionaire Woolf Joel were both murdered and British MP Aubrey Herbert went blind and died of blood poisoning.

Carter and his workers remove the treasures

Hebert’s death was particularly tragic for the Carnarvon family as he was Lord Carnarvon’s half brother. He had reported on entering the burial chamber — “something dreadful is going to happen to our family”.

Perhaps the press were right? Within months, a disparate group of characters from around the world were all dead after visiting the tomb.

The following year, 1924, would only fuel the speculation. In January, Sir Archibald Douglas-Reid, who had x-rayed King Tutankhamun’s body, died from a mysterious illness.

H. E. Evelyn-White was next. The young British archeologist was one of the first to enter the tomb after Carter. After writing — “I have succumbed to a curse” in his own blood, he hung himself.

Sir Lee Stack, governor of Sudan, was also amongst the earliest visitors to the pharaoh’s tomb. Later that year he too met a violent end, shot dead on the streets of Cairo by an assassin.

The next year one of the most peculiar stories surrounding the curse hit the news-stands. Howard Carter had given his close friend, Sir Bruce Ingham, a paperweight made from a mummified hand wearing a scarab bracelet.

The dig site has notable visitors from all around the world.

Inscribed upon the bracelet were the words — “cursed be he who moves my body. To him shall come fire, water and pestilence”. Soon after, Ingham’s house burnt down. When it was rebuilt, it flooded.

In 1926, George Benedite of the Louvre museum died shortly after visiting the tomb. Another Egyptologist, Aaron Ember, also died that year in a curious fire at his home.

After Howard Carter himself, the main archeologist to excavate Tutankhamun’s tomb was A. C. Mace. Mace spent years on the dig and co-authored the first book about discovery with Carter.

In 1928, after complaining of increasing weakness, he collapsed. He died shortly later, seemingly of arsenic poisoning, in the same hospital as Lord Carnarvon.

1929 saw two particularly strange deaths. As Howard Carter’s personal secretary, Richard Bethell was present at the opening of the burial chamber in 1923. He was found in November, smothered to death in his bed.

The press blamed Westbury’s suicide on the curse

A few months later, Bethel’s father Baron Westbury jumped from his seventh floor flat in a delirium. The flat contained artifacts from the dig, obtained by his late son. Westbury’s suicide note read — “I really cannot stand any more horrors and hardly see what good I am going to do here, so I am making my exit”.

Finally in 1929, Lord Carnarvon’s other half brother died from ‘malarial pneumonia’.

Within 6 years of the discovery, Carnarvon, both his half brothers, Carter’s chief archeologist, his personal secretary and his father, the excavation’s radiologist and at least half a dozen other prominent individuals who visited the tomb were all dead.

Carter examines the coffin.

Was it down to vivid imaginations and a lot of coincidences, or did this rash of deaths have a more sinister cause?

Perhaps we don’t need to suppose any supernatural source for the ‘curse’. Could there be a more scientific answer?

The ‘curse’ of Tutankhamun was still claiming victims 70 years on. But this time it pointed to a scientific solution to the mystery.

Sheryl Munsun died in 1995 of respiratory failure, a few weeks after visiting Tutankhamun’s tomb. Munson didn’t just visit the tomb, she touched the walls and run her fingers across the paint.

Back home, she fell ill. Her immune system, already weakened by a battle with cancer, had become overrun by spores or a toxic fungus — Aspergillus Niger.

Doctors were baffled. Could there be any connection to her recent trip to Egypt? The suspicion wasn’t entirely new.

After Carnarvon’s death, American politicians had ordered an immediate investigation into mummies to see if they posed the same medical threat apparent in the tomb.

Potentially deadly fungus was found on the tomb walls

Arthur Conan Doyle, when not proposing supernatural sources, suggested the curse may be down to the pharaohs deliberately booby trapping their tomb walls with poisons.

Howard Carter, unaware of any potential danger, first noted patches of fungus on walls of the burial chamber in 1923 and experts say such mould and fungus is not uncommon.

“When you think of Egyptian tombs, you have not only dead bodies but foodstuffs — meats, vegetables, and fruits”, said Jennifer Wegner, an Egyptologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia.

“It certainly may have attracted insects, molds, and bacteria. The raw material would have been there thousands of years ago”.

Other studies of ancient mummies have shown they too can carry mold and bacteria, two of which — Aspergillus Niger and Aspergillus Flavus, are potentially deadly.

Traces of toxic mold and fungus has been found on Egyptian mummies

These molds can cause allergic reactions ranging from congestion to bleeding in the lungs and are particularly harmful to people, like Carnarvon, with weakened immune systems.

French physician Dr. Caroline Stenger-Philippe, in her doctoral thesis for the Strasbourg School of Medicine in 1985, linked 6 of the Tutankhamun deaths to a severe allergic reaction to the mould.

Stenger-Philippe claimed the victims were stricken with allergic alveolitis, an inflammation of the tiny air chambers in the lungs, and died of pulmonary insufficiency.

Further dangers have been found inside sealed sarcophagi. Ammonia gas, formaldehyde and hydrogen sulfide have all been detected, which in strong enough concentrations can cause burning of the eyes and nose, pneumonia-like symptoms and even death.

Lord Carnarvon was already ill before the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, injured in a bad car crash the previous year. The next victim — George J Gould, was also already weakened by illness at the time

Did exposure to toxic mold hasten their deaths?

Perhaps a supernatural curse did exist of a fashion — in the minds of its victims. Often ascribed to the invention of journalists, the public imagination in the 1920s was very receptive to the idea of curses.

This was a far more credulous and superstitious time, and tales of horror and dark goings-on in foreign lands were immensely popular. Could it be some of those that died simply believed the curse to be real, and this hastened their deaths?

With the media hype so strong about the ‘curse of the pharaohs’, there is evidence at least some of the deaths were influenced by the belief they had succumbed to it

The idea of ancient curses was in the popular imagination at the time

Evelyn-White’s grisly suicide is the most obvious candidate. A young archeologist who visited the tomb in 1923, he left a note, supposedly written in his own blood, complaining that he was cursed.

Although Evelyn-White had a troubled private life, could the fact he visited Tutankhamun’s burial chamber have made him believe his troubles were caused by the much-vaunted curse?

Another suicide ascribed by some to the curse was Baron Westbury, who jumped from a 7th-floor balcony to his death in 1930. His suicide note complained about ‘the horrors’.

Westbury’s son, Richard Bethel, was the second man to enter the burial chamber, after Carter himself. Just months earlier he had died in strange and violent circumstances.

Did Westbury believe he, too, was doomed and take matters into his own hands?

“Death Shall Come on Swift Wings To Him Who Disturbs the peace of the king”.

Rumours that Carter had found those words inscribed in the burial chamber were never substantiated, and Carter himself always denied it. However, ancient Egyptians did sometimes leave curses in their tombs.

The tomb of Khentika Ikhekhi contains an inscription — “As for all men who shall enter this my tomb… impure… there will be judgment… an end shall be made for him… I shall seize his neck like a bird… I shall cast the fear of myself into him.”

Another Old Kingdom curse reads “Cursed be those who disturb the rest of a Pharaoh. They that shall break the seal of this tomb shall meet death by a disease that no doctor can diagnose.”

Arthur Conan Doyle encouraged talk of a curse

Some mastaba walls in Giza and Saqqara were also inscribed with curses meant to scare off tomb robbers.

This inspired Little Women writer Louisa May Alcott to write one of the first mummy’s curse stories, in her long forgotten 1869 book “Lost in a Pyramid, or The Mummy’s Curse”. ~historyextra

Tutankhamun’s golden funeral mask. Getty Images

1924 – Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming becomes the first female elected as governor in the United States.

1966 – The Arno River floods Florence, Italy, to a maximum depth of 22 ft. leaving thousands homeless and destroying millions of masterpieces of art and rare books. Also Venice was submerged on the same day at its record all-time acqua alta of 76 in.

1973 – The Netherlands experiences the first Car-Free Sunday caused by the 1973 oil crisis. Highways are used only by cyclists &roller skaters.

1979 – Iran hostage crisis: A group of Iranian college students overruns the U.S. embassy in Tehran and takes 90 hostages.

1980 – Ronald Reagan is elected the 40th President of The United States, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter.

1995 – Israel-Palestinian conflict: Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by an extremist Israeli.

2002 – Chinese authorities arrest cyber-dissident He Depu for signing a pro-democracy letter to the 16th Communist Party Congress.

2008 – Barack Obama becomes the first person of biracial or African-American descent to be elected President of the United States.

‘Tuning to the Stars’: Eurythmy for the Holy Nights with Jan Ranck* –
Sacred Geometry, the Planets and the Zodiac
LIVE IN-PERSON 26-30 Dec. 2021 at the Rudolf Steiner Branch Chicago 4 pm – 5 pm
And at 8pm on 31 Dec. as part of our annual NYE Conscious Community Gathering (details TBA)
$100 for all 6 sessions, or $22 for each individual session.
Make your payment using PayPal
or QuickPay with Zelle to chase@rschicago.org  
(please indicate in the notes that it is for the Holy Nights Eurythmy)
Cash at the door, or send a check to:
Rudolf Steiner Branch
4249 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618-2953
For more info. Contact Cultural Events & Festivals Coordinator
Hazel Archer-Ginsberg hag@RSchicago.org
* Jan Ranck – Born in the USA, Jan Ranck studied music and comparative arts at Indiana University in Bloomington. She accompanied the London Stage Group on their 1976 USA tour and went on to study eurythmy at the Eurythmeum in Dornach with Lea van der Pals, where she subsequently taught. In 1984 she joined the faculty of The London School of Eurythmy. She left there to complete her eurythmy therapy training in Stuttgart in 1989, moving afterward to Israel, where she founded and directed the Jerusalem Eurythmy Ensemble (1990) and the Jerusalem Academy of Eurythmy (1992) and was an instructor in the Jerusalem Waldorf Teacher Bachelor Program in David Yellin Academic College from 1999. Jan has held Master Classes at various venues worldwide, including the Goetheanum and the MA Program in Eurythmy held at Emerson College and Spring Valley. She is the representative for Israel in the International Eurythmy Therapy Forum.

4 thoughts on “A Blessing & a Curse

  1. Hi Hazel,

    If I write to you it is only because I want to stay in contact with someone that I admire. Thus, of course I read your essays. At times, I feel compelled to say something in response, and that is good; for me. You see, I need this kind of interaction. So, not wanting to beat a dead horse, please allow me to again say that the planet designated as Mercury is actually the planet Venus. As such, this planet is now located near the star, Spica, which is very close to the intersection into the constellation of Libra.


    Now, the planet that we call Venus, which is actually Mercury, is farther along in the celestial round. It was previously reported to be near the star Antares in the sign of Scorpio.

    Thus, it is important to picture the New Moon of November 4, 2021 as occurring in the sign of Libra, and not at Spica. Steiner had indicated since 1912 that the Sun is in the sign of Libra from October 13 to November 9th in the yearly round. This means that the New Moon of November 2021 is not in conjunction with Mercury (occult Venus). Sorry, but it is just not so.

    1. Thank you Steve, your contributions are powerful inspirations to us all…
      May this clarification help us in our Speaking with the Stars…

      1. Hi Hazel,

        I really do hope you feel this way about me. To consider my contributions as powerful inspirations for all would seem to indicate that they are important. You see, what really motivates me in this latest essay is not the position of the waning crescent moon leading to New Moon in Libra. It is really all about your Sophia Circle. Now, I know this looks like I have an agenda, but I don’t have one.

        You see, behind Sophia is the Christ. They had their major interaction at the Marriage in Cana, as described in chapter two of the Gospel of John. This is the act which not only became the first miracle, but also established the marriage which would come to fruition in the sixth cultural epoch. So, we are seeing this occur in stages. Thus, Isis-Sophia also serves to resurrect Osiris-Christ. This cannot be denied.

        So, Hazel, let us look at what occurs in the year 1918 from beginning to end. Steiner begins the year with the cycle GA 180. He ends the year with the cycle GA 187. That is a perfect seven! What does he say in the third lecture of GA 180? He resurrects Osiris. What does he say throughout GA 187? How Can Humanity Find the Christ Again. Thus, Osiris-Christ as the great denominator, while you try to fit the Divine Feminine into the equation.

        Now, I am not saying that the Divine Sophia does not fit into this chronology, because She does, and because She draws the veil down for the Intellectual Soul. This is what Martin Luther found so challenging in the lectures from GA 176. I had occasion to talk to Maverick about these not long ago. I wonder if he got it.

        Enough for now. Thanks for being you being you and enabling this kind of discourse.

        1. I marvel at your ability to see these powerful progressions reveled in his lectures & especially in his basic books – Our Class Reader who speaks German also brings this numerology to light – Its fascinating to think of how the spiritual world worked thru this modern initiate – a true sacred geometry unfolds creating a foundation for our thinking…

          The work of unveiling the Sophia, which Steiner only began to hint about, is our task now…

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