15 April 2017Holy Saturday

Fra Angelico.

Here is an Easter lecture I did a few years ago speaking to Holy Saturday & the “Harrowing of Hell” Encountering the Inner Layers of the Earth as a Rosicrucian Christian Initiation, in relation to the Beatitudes and the 9 fold human being.

The Day of Archangel Raphael

1452 – The Birthday of Leonardo da Vinci – According to the spiritual scientific research of Rudolf Steiner this individuality incarnated before as Augustine, Judas Maccabee & then as Judas Iscariot .

“What is inscribed in the Akasha Chronicle between the earth and the moon is of special importance because it is there that among other things all imperfections are recorded. It should be realized that the inscribing of these imperfections is governed by the view that every record there is of significance for the individual’s own evolution, either furthering or hindering his progress. Because it is there inscribed in the Akasha Chronicle between earth and moon, it also becomes significant for the evolution of the earth as a whole. The imperfections of really great men are also recorded in that sphere. One example of tremendous interest for clairvoyant observation is Leonardo da Vinci. He is a spirit of greatness and universality equaled by few others on earth, but compared with what he intended, his actual achievements in the external world in many respects remained incomplete. As a matter of fact, no man of similar eminence left as much uncompleted as Leonardo da Vinci. The consequence of this was that a colossal amount was inscribed by him in the Moon sphere, so much indeed that one is often bound to exclaim, “How could all that is inscribed there possibly have reached perfection on the earth!”

At this point I want to tell you of something that seemed to me quite significant when I was studying Leonardo da Vinci. I was to give a lecture about him in Berlin and a particular observation made in connection with him seemed to be extremely important. It fills one with sadness today to see on the wall of the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan the rapidly disappearing colors that now convey no more than a faint shadow of what the picture once was. If we remember that Leonardo took sixteen years to paint this picture, and think of how he painted it, we gain a definite impression. It is known that he would often go away for a long time. Then he would return to the picture, sit in front of it or many hours, make a few strokes with the brush and go off again. It is also known that many times he felt unable to express what he wished in the painting and suffered terrible fits of depression on this account. Now it happened that a new prior was appointed to the monastery at a time when Leonardo had already been working at the picture for many years. This prior was a pedantic and strict disciplinarian with little understanding of art. He asked impatiently why the painter could not finish the picture, reproached him for it and also complained to Duke Ludovico. The Duke repeated the complaint to Leonardo and he answered, “I do not know whether I shall ever be able to complete this picture. I have prototypes in life for all the figures except those of Judas and Christ. For them I have no models, although in the case of Judas, if no model turns up I can always take the prior. But for the Christ I have no prototype.” That, however, is digressing.

What I want to say is that when one looks today at the figure of Judas in the picture that has almost completely faded, a shadow is to be seen on this figure, a shadow that cannot be explained in any way, either by the instreaming light or by anything else. Occult investigation finds that the painting was never as Leonardo da Vinci really wanted it to be. With the exception of the figures of Judas and the Christ he wanted to portray everything through light and shadow, but Judas was to be portrayed in such a way as to give the impression that darkness dominated the countenance from within. This was not intended to be conveyed by external contrasts of light and shadows. In the figure of Christ the impression was to be that the light on His countenance was shining from within, radiating outwards from within. But at this point disharmony beset Leonardo’s inner life, and the effect he desired was never produced. This affords a clue when one is observing the many remaining inscriptions made by Leonardo in the Moon sphere. It is an example of something that could not be brought to fulfillment in the earth sphere.

When the period following that of Leonardo da Vinci is investigated, it is found that Leonardo continued to work through a number of those who lived after him. Even externally there can be found in Leonardo’s writings things that later on were demonstrated by scientists and also by artists. In fact, the whole subsequent period was under his influence. It is then discovered that the inscribed imperfections worked as inspirations into the souls of Leonardo’s successors, into the souls of men who lived after him.

The imperfections of an earlier epoch are still more important for the following epoch than its perfections. The perfections are there to be studied, but what has been elaborated to a certain degree of perfection on the earth has, as it were, reached an end, has come to a conclusion in evolution. What has not been perfected is the seed of the following divine evolutionary process. Here we come to a remarkable, magnificent paradox. The greatest blessing for a subsequent period is the fruitful imperfection, the fruitful, justifiable imperfection of an earlier period. What has been perfected in an earlier epoch is there to be enjoyed. Imperfection, however, imperfection originating in great men whose influences have remained for posterity, helps to promote creative activity in the following period. Hence, there is obviously tremendous wisdom in the fact that imperfections remain in the neighborhood of the earth, inscribed in the records of the Akasha Chronicle between earth and moon.

This brings us to the point where we can begin to understand the principle that perfection signifies for the different epochs the end of a stream of evolution, and imperfection, the beginning of an evolutionary stream. For imperfection in this sense men should actually be thankful to the gods.” ~Rudolf Steiner Life Between Death and Rebirth Man’s Journey through the Cosmic Spheres after Death

‘The Devil Presenting Saint Augustine with the Book of Vices’; painting by Michael Pacher, fifteenth century

Judah Maccabee by Arthur Szyk

“Among the five sons of Mattathias is one who is already called Judas in the Old Testament. He was the one who at that time fought more bravely than all the others for his own people. In his whole soul he was dedicated to his people, and it was he who was successful in forming an alliance with the Romans against King Antiochus of Syria (I Maccabees, Chap. 8). This Judas (Maccabeus =The Hammer) is the same who later had to undergo the test of the betrayal, because he who was most intimately bound up with the old specifically Hebrew element, could not at once find the transition into the Christian element, needing the severe testing of the betrayal. Again, if we look at the purely artistic aspect, how wonderfully do the two figures stand out: the grand figure of the Judas in the last chapters of the Old Testament and the Judas of the New Testament. It is remarkable that in this symptomatic process, the Judas of the Old Testament concluded an alliance with the Romans, prefiguring all that happened later, namely the path that Christianity took through the Roman Empire, so that it could enter into the world. If I could add to this something that can also be known but that cannot be given in a lecture to an audience as large as this, you would see that it was precisely through a later reincarnation of Judas that the fusion of the Roman with the Christian element occurred. The reincarnated Judas was the first who, as we might say, had the great success of spreading Romanized Christianity in the world. The treaty concluded by the Judas of the Old Testament with the Romans was the prophetic foreshadowing of what was later accomplished by another man, who is recognized by occultists as the reincarnation of that Judas who had to go through the severe soul-testing of the betrayal. What through his later influence appears as Christianity within Romanism and Romanism within Christianity is like a renewal of the alliance concluded between the Old Testament Judas and the Romans, but transferred into the spiritual.” ~Rudolf Steiner, Gospel of Mark: Lecture 2

“If we let his “Last Supper” work on us, we find two things of which we can say that they do not altogether agree with Leonardo’s view of the principles of painting. One is the figure of Judas. From the reproductions and also to a certain extent from the shadowy painting in Milan, one gets the impression that Judas is quite covered in shadow — he is quite dark. Now when we study how the light falls from the different sides, and how with regard to the other eleven disciples the lighting conditions are represented in the most wonderful manner in accordance with reality, nothing really explains the darkness on the face of Judas. Art can give us no answer as to the wherefore of this darkness. This is fairly clear as regards the Judas figure. If we now turn to the Christ Figure, approaching it not according to Spiritual Science but according to the external view, it only produces, as it were, something like a suggestion. Just as little as the blackness, the darkness of the Judas figure seems justifiable, just as little does the “sunniness” of the Christ Figure, standing out as it does from the other figures, seem to be justified, in this sense. We can understand the lighting of all the other countenances but not that of Judas nor that of Christ Jesus. Then, as if of itself, the idea comes into one’s mind: surely the painter has striven to make evident that in these two opposites, Jesus and Judas, light and darkness proceed not from outside but from within. He probably wished to make us realize that the light on the face of the Christ cannot be explained by the outer conditions of light, and yet we can believe that the Soul behind this Countenance is itself a light force, so that It can shine of Itself, in spite of the lighting conditions. In the same way the impression with respect to Judas, is, that this form itself conjures up a shadow which is not explained by the shadows around it.

This is, as already said, a hypothesis of Spiritual Science, but one that has developed in me in the course of many years and we may believe that the more we considered the problem the more we would find it substantiated. According to this hypothesis one can understand how Leonardo, who strove to be true to nature in all his work and study, worked with trembling brush to present a problem that could only be justified with respect to this one figure. We can then understand that he might well be bitterly disappointed, indubitably so, because it was impossible by means of the then existing art to bring this problem to expression with complete truthfulness and probability. Because he could not yet do what he wanted, he finally despaired of the possibility of its execution and had to leave a picture behind him which still did not satisfy him, and the question as to the feelings with which Leonardo left his picture can be answered in full accord with the whole figure and spiritual greatness of Leonardo. He left it with a feeling of bitterness, realizing that in his most important work he had set himself a task, the execution of which could never be satisfactory with the means available to man. If in the centuries to come no eye will see the picture Leonardo had conjured on to the wall at Milan — that, in any case, was certainly not what lived in his soul. If we picture him thus before his most important creation, we are indeed tempted to ask: What secret really lay behind this figure?”

“…We see very little of Leonardo by looking at his external creations; we get the idea that this soul has still to carry out something in a super-sensible existence and we say to ourselves: Oh! We understand! In order that this soul, in the whole course of its collective existence, which runs through many earth lives, could always reveal something to mankind, it had in its Leonardo existence to pass through a life in which it was only able to bring to expression the very smallest part of what lived within it. Such souls as Leonardo are world riddles and life riddles — world riddles incarnate… Leonardo’s greatness only becomes evident to us when we get an inkling of what he could NOT accomplish. ~RS, Leonardo da Vinci – His Spiritual and Intellectual Greatness At the Turning Point of the New Age


“When we ourselves penetrate into the spiritual worlds and come to know something about the life there, we encounter conditions altogether different from those prevailing in physical life on earth. That is why it is so very difficult to describe these conditions in terms of human words and human thoughts. Any attempt to speak concretely about them often seems paradoxical.

To take one example only, I am able to tell you of a human soul after death together with whom it was possible — because of his special knowledge — to make certain discoveries in the spiritual world about the great painter Leonardo da Vinci, particularly about his famous picture of the Last Supper, in Milan. When one investigates a spiritual fact in association with such a soul, this soul is able to indicate many things which ordinary clairvoyance might not otherwise have found in the Akasha Chronicle. The soul in the spiritual world is able to point them out, but can do so only if there is some understanding of what this soul is trying to convey. Something very noteworthy then comes to light.

Suppose that in company with such a soul one is investigating how Leonardo da Vinci created his famous picture. Today the picture is hardly more than a few patches of colour. But in the Akasha Chronicle one can watch Leonardo as he painted, one can see what the picture was once like — although this is not an easy thing to do. When the investigation is carried on in company with a soul who is not incarnate but has some connection with Leonardo da Vinci and his painting, one perceives that this soul is showing one certain things — for example, the faces of Christ and of Judas as they actually were in the picture. But one perceives, too, that the soul could not reveal this unless at the moment when it is being revealed there is understanding in the soul of the living investigator. This is a sine qua non. And only at the moment when the soul of the living investigator is receptive to what is being disclosed does the discarnate soul itself learn to understand what is otherwise merely vision. To speak figuratively. — After something has been experienced together with such a soul — something that can be experienced only in the way described — this soul says to one: You have brought me to the picture and I feel the urge to look at it with you. (The soul of the dead says this to the living investigator because of the latter’s desire to investigate the picture.) Numerous experiences then arise. But a moment comes when the discarnate soul is either suddenly absent or says that it must depart. In the case of which I have just told you, the discarnate soul said: Up to now the soul of Leonardo da Vinci regarded with approval what was being done, but does not now desire the investigation to continue.” ~Rudolf Steiner, Links Between the Living and the Dead


POD (Poem Of the Day)

~I make my changes in secret
Like an insect in its chrysalis
Like a lead mountain into gold
The mummy molding into ripeness
Sanity staring into madness…
My transformation is
Mind, will, purpose & desire directed by love…
I die to let the visible become invisible…


Holy Saturday From Emil Bock’s “The 3 Years John 19: 28-42

«The body of Christ has been laid in the tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. Saturnine heaviness hangs in the air and the meaning of Saturn’s day is fulfilled. It has been the custom of the Sabbath, as Saturn’s day, for the adherents of the Old Covenant to observe it as a strictly ordained day of death-like rest. Today is the Sabbath of all Sabbaths. It is as though a fighter had gone into a dark cavern to overcome a dragon. Will he return victoriously to the light of day? In the dark midday hour of the previous day, when Christ on the Cross bowed His head and expired, the veil of the Temple “was rent in twain”. Vistas were opened into the interior of the world. Archetypal pictures formed themselves in the Saturnine twilight. Table and Cross summarize the events of the last two days. Now the Tomb is added as a third archetypal symbol. From times immemorial tombs also served as altars; all divine worship proceeded originally from the worship of the dead. People went to the tombs when they wanted to commune with the gods. The souls of the departed were intermediaries between men and the gods, for since the souls of the dead could appear at the tombs, other dwellers in the spiritual world could also be met there. This was so in far-distant ages, when Death was still the brother of Sleep and as yet had no terrifying power over mankind. Men were not so hopelessly bound to the substance of the earthly body during physical life. So after death they were not so separated from the plane of Earth. The communion of the earthly world with the spiritual world still happened like breathing in and breathing out.

In the course of millennia Man entered deeper and deeper into embodiment. The more he united with earthly substance, the less was it possible for him to remain in connection with the earth after death. The gap between “here and “there” became increasingly difficult to bridge. Existence after death became, as is said in the First Epistle of St. Peter, a prison. Humanity was in danger of being deprived of immortality, of consciousness enduring beyond death. In the realm of the dead the souls were spellbound in a state of numbness. When the Egyptians mummified their dead and prayed before the embalmed bodies, they expressed their urgent desire to hold fast to ancient conditions. It was an attempt, despite the ever-widening gulf, to unite the souls of men with the bodily remains of earthly life. But the downward trend of destiny could not be checked, and as the pre-Christian centuries advanced, dread of death took hold of mankind. The Greek world is filled with horror of the realm of the death; in the Old Testament the idea of immortality fades away altogether. A great religious current arose without a certainty of immortal life, and the belief of living on in one’s descendants took its place.

Yet in the pre-Christian centuries souls did not live nearly so heavily in the body as they do today. Hence those living on Earth felt the tragic fate brought on by death as an oppressive burden. Though people still went to the tombs, the souls no longer came, and the Gods were absent from the altars. The feeling of anxiety in pre-Christian times derived far less from external conditions than from distress of soul. The Earth seemed a dried up land that had had no rain for a long time. Death became a terrifying spectre. This feeling lay at the root of the expectation of the Messiah which inspired all the peoples of pre-Christian times.

It was now between Holy Saturday and Easter. The body had been taken from the cross and laid in the grave. Providence ordained that cross and grave should stand on a spot which thousands of years before had been experienced as the centre of the Earth. Between the rocky hill of Golgotha, which is a continuation of the lunar Mount Moriah, and the grave with its surrounding garden on Mount Zion, there was formerly a primary fissure in the Earth’s surface. Ancient Humanity saw in this the grave of Adam: here for the first time mankind was overcome by death. And so from very ancient times this primeval gorge, which splits Jerusalem into two parts, was believed to be the gate of the Underworld. In this place the cross was erected yesterday and there to-day the sepulcher stands.

When now we try once more to find the inner aspect of events, it is as though the veil were rent before another sphere. The realm of the shades opens. In the Saturnine darkness of this sphere an unexpected light is kindled. He who died upon the Cross has entered the Kingdom of the Dead. One has come Who is not subject to the magic compulsion of death, One who is free of all that dulls and deadens. He carries through death the full Glory of His Genius; and while on Earth the dark Sabbath of the grave prevails, in the realm of the dead the Sun rises. This is the meaning of Christ Descent into Hell. In the kingdom of the departed a glimmer of hope lit up. The spell of death was loosened, and the prospect opened towards a future victory of the human soul over the spell of the underworld. While it was still Holy Saturday on Earth, it was already Easter in the Kingdom of the Dead.

At the moment of Christ’s death on Good Friday the earthquake began and it was still rumbling in the early hours of Easter morning. It did not cease fully all through Holy Saturday, though the powers of nature may have adapted themselves to the spell of the silence of the grave which belongs to this day. Rudolf Steiner has imparted from his spiritual investigations a certain fact which may be hard to accept, but which could be verified from a knowledge of the geological secrets which lie in the soil of Jerusalem. As a cosmic climax to the Mystery of Golgotha, the earthquake tore open again the original fissure which had been filled up in the time of Solomon. And thus the whole Earth became the grave of the Christ. The Earth took deep into herself the Host that was administered to her. When with the words of the Creed as it is used in the Christian Community, we express the event of Holy Saturday, “He was lowered into the grave of the Earth”, we touch upon the cosmic aspect of the Mystery of Golgotha. It was the physical body and the physical blood of the human being, Jesus of Nazareth, which was the medicine received by the Earth. The sacramental stream which has gone through humanity henceforward is linked to Easter.

It has been a right and valid principle that in all parts of the Christian Church altars have been formed in the likeness of a tomb. Also the altars of the renewed Sacrament in the Christian Community have the form of a tomb. And when the members of the congregation are assembled round them, the principle of Holy Saturday is always present. We are the ones waiting round the sacred sepulchre, and at the Table and Tomb of the Lord our dead can also draw near again. Those who have inwardly united themselves in life with the renewed Sacrament can assuredly after death find their way to this Tomb more easily than to their own graves. Souls no longer have any intensive relation to the cast-off body. But when we are assembled round the altar, they can be in our midst, and thereby strengthen our relationship to the spiritual world. The new altars are surrounded with the same play of archetypal pictures as was once the grave in the precincts of the garden on Mount Zion. The gulf is closed between this world and the other. The Easter garden begins to bloom in which our soul, like Mary Magdalene, can behold the Risen One as the Gardener of a New World. The darkness of Saturn is lit up from within by the Sun of Easter.»


Our Easter-Tide Festival for 2017: 

15 April 2017, Holy Saturday –  
‘The Mystery of Golgotha – Then & Now’
2 pm – 4 pm

What was the Mystery of Golgotha?
What is the Mystery now?
What will it be for the future?
~Art Projections & Discourse with Hazel Archer-Ginsberg

Group work: Based on Baruch Urieli’s
Learning to Experience the Etheric World,
Empathy, the After-Image and a New Social Ethic’

ALSO:  A sneak Preview of our New Art Exhibition by Victoria Martin “I” See Heaven”

$10 Donation & Snacks to Share Encouraged


16 April 2017, Easter Sunday – 4 pm – 6 pm

The Midwest Eurythmy Group will perform
The Easter Verse from the Calendar of the Soul by Rudolf Steiner & Bach Fugue Bb minor ‘5 Voices’ & Prelude #22

Then we will explore The Calendar of the Soul Verse for SPRING thru focused discussion & in an Artistic Activity. We will end with Group Eurythmy.

$10 Donation goes to support the Midwest Eurythmy Group
& Snacks to Share Encouraged
(Hazel will bring her famous slow cooked leg of lamb :

at the Rudolf Steiner Branch of the Anthroposophical Society 4249 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago IL. 60618. MAP