Dear friends – Welcome to this last essay in the series based on our work with the After-Image during the ‘Fire in the Heart’ Christian Community Conference.
Anthroposophy asks us to live into the idea that there is a kind of reversal from what we see in the material world & what we experience in the Spiritual Worlds. This kind of Reversal is one of the reasons the Backwards Review or “Ruchschau” is recommended before sleep. In German Ruchschau, actually translates as ‘viewing movement’ which makes sense since the Etheric/Life-Body of Formative Forces is a Time-Body expressed thru rhythm & habits.
The Ruchschau is a potent alchemical force – a practical way of consciously entering into the spiritual world. It centers on taking memory pictures across the threshold into the spiritual world during sleep. We are more likely to then to receive a further after-image in the morning.
Dennis Klocek calls the backward review “a practice of soul distillation…The backwards review trains us to repeatedly form and dissolve pictures with personal will. When done at the threshold of sleep, this practice amounts to willing life pictures across the abyss of dream and on into the spiritual world. In the morning I can briefly establish a link to them by listening to my heartbeat.”
If the backwards review is done regularly, it fortifies our Etheric/Life-Body, AND our dreams become more lucid…
Ok, deep breath – here we go: On Sunday 9 July 2023, I awoke in the twittering twilight of a ‘Driftless-Region’ dawn, with the fragment of a dream:
I was standing in a garden. The air was fragrant. I looked to my left, & saw a large raised bed of tall star-gazer lilies, open & dripping nectar. On my right, was a huge field of rioting roses, some wide-petaled & exposed – others, a tight red bud. I could see their scent like a misty vapor, rising & falling. In the distance, rays of light pierced thru the leaves & clustered flowers of the Linden trees, which formed a ring at the edge of my vision. Swirling in the beamed light were many swarming honeybees – their intense hum & the smell of the flowers made me light-headed. I looked down at my feet, & dug my toes, which were painted red, into the rich black earth. I looked up at the big sky undulating with white clouds that were forming & re-forming. I was trying to make out the shapes when I awoke.
I put the dream away, hurrying to pack-up & get ready for the Act of Consecration, in which I was serving on the left.
I was excited to put into practice Steiner’s Candle-Gazing Exercise which we had been working with in our group over the last 2 days, up close at the altar where I could see all 7 flames.
At first I experienced the usual after-image of the yellow flame becoming violet at the center with a kind of rainbow effect bringing in green & orange, the candlesticks flipping from white to black, the firing up of the purple aura outlining the flowers, the altar, the window, & the bodies of the Priests.
When we got to the part in the service when the Priest makes the sign of the Cross horizontally over the Chalice, I experienced rays of yellow/violet/green light from the 6 candles streaming out – & arching into the tallest center candle. And from that center candle sprang, what I can only describe, perhaps, as a Salamander or Fire-Being of Light. It was shaped like a sea-horse, with bright primary red in the bottom circle ringed with green around the bottom edge, ringed upward with concentric circles of orange into yellow becoming misty white at the top, & at the bottom a white & grey wispy tail curling up like the sea-horse. I blinked & it plunged down into the altar. I felt it like a current in my body, piercing past me into the earth. Then it rose back up again – very fast – & disappeared into the ceiling.
I immediately broke out in a sweat. I felt my vision constricting & expanding at the same time. The light all around seemed overly bright, saturated with little rainbows that appeared in tiny squares, like pixels revealing something behind the light. I got concerned that I was going to faint. I worked to center myself, trying to control my breathing. I was dripping sweat.
While the Transubstantiation was happening, my vision was narrowing, the too bright light becoming velvet black, studded with flickering 4-pointed rainbow stars – like a Christmas card I said to myself.
The sound in the room became highly pitched. I consciously brought my attention down from my head into my throat – engaging my larynx – vibrating The Word within me. “O Christ, sick is the dwelling…O Christ, I confess…”
My vision was now fully inward, yet in the atmosphere I felt a pulsing, a kind of fireworks show – flashing like a coded message – it took me back to my dream. Was this forming & re-forming what the clouds were veiling?
(In retrospect, I woke up this morning thinking it was like the scene in the Bhagavata, when Arjuna opens Krishna’s sight to the eternal world…)
For a second I saw my Self falling like a tree in the forest, & I was concerned about where I would land?
When it came time for folks to come up to receive communion, I stood as the left-server at the end – the pillar reflecting the community. When the 1st round of folks had all lined up, I knew I should slip out the door to get some fresh air.
I sat down on the cool stone steps of The ‘Old Main’ Building where the Christian Community holds their affiliate services, swimming in sweat, pushing up the sleeves of my white vestments. I knew I had a few moments to catch my breath since there would be several rounds with the over 50 folks in the Church who would be taking communion.
Pat, a nurse practitioner saw me leave & came out to check on me. I turned & she gasped: ‘My dear, you are as white as your collar’. She touched my forehead & exclaimed: ‘O, & very clammy’. She sat down with me for a bit until I knew I was good to go back in to take up my position. There were still 2 more rounds to go, so I was able to receive the chalice – & O Lordy – The ‘wine’ was especially enlivening.
Afterward I felt strange about what happened. No one asked me anything, which I wondered about; but I was also relieved, since I wouldn’t have been able to speak about it.
Going around the circle at the closing Plenum, I became uneasy. I didn’t feel ready to share. Would people think I was crazy, or irresponsible, or deluded…? I was so uncomfortable.
It wasn’t until after we had driven the 4 hours home that I was able to talk a bit about it to CG, UVA & LDL. Their open-heartedness took the load right off me. And I remembered that I had felt that same kind of lifting during the service on Friday morning – Such wonder – & reverent gratitude! And a reminder that my intention during the clay exercise was ‘Let go & let come’.
And now thru the digestion process, which always comes, for me, in having to put the experience into writing, deepening my persepctive, is able to live as an after-image of wholeness. Especially since it has become interwoven with the forces present during this time of my Natal Return, which always brings a profound retrospective.
Thank-you dear friends, for being part of my spiritual biography. May we all move ever closer to our highest destiny – forging the Wisdom of Love in Freedom.
Then I will be heading out for our next training 1-7 August 2023