Dear Friends – Dorothy was right: There’s no place like home. As we journey thru life, dodging the occasional wicked witch, the ‘Spirit of Place’, which perhaps drew us to our home, creates a definite ambiance that we live with. But do we recognize it? Do we honor it, & seek to know its nature? If we work to cultivate a relationship with our Spirit of Place, we might even discover a Munchkin or two, over the rainbow or just across the threshold…
Many indigenous & tribal cultures around the world are deeply concerned with Spirits of Place in their landscape. The concept has echoed thru the ages. It derives from an ancient & widespread knowing that our world is occupied by gods, or spirits, who want to be propitiated. Genius loci is the Latin term for the Spirit or Guardian deity of a place.
For me, the ‘Spirit of Place’ refers to the unique, distinctive character of a location or abode; often cherished in folk tales, festivals & celebrations; explored by artists & writers thruout the ages. The concept is prominent in the invisible weave of culture -stories, art, memories, beliefs, histories, etc.; as well as in the tangible physical aspects of a place – monuments, boundaries, rivers, woods, architecture, rural crafts styles, pathways, views, etc… And of course we must include its interpersonal aspects, bringing in the presence of the ancestors.
These Spirits of Place are explicitly recognized by some of the world’s main religions: The “Shinto gods” are called kami. They are sacred spirits which take the form of things in the environment, such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers & fertility. Human beings become kami after they die & are revered by their families as ancestral spirits. Many Hindu sects work with this concept, as do Buddhists.
We might understand it thru the exploration of ley lines, feng shui, or perhaps feel it in urban spaces – in the architecture, back alleys or gardens. Modern earth art, or environment art, explores the contribution of natural/ephemeral sculpture as an offering to the Spirit of Place.
We will explore this for ourselves with Rosemary McMullen* during our Sunday Presentation ‘Reclaiming the Wisdom of America’, to help us create cultural forms that ‘re-enchant our land’. If we are able to live into our individual Genius loci, perhaps that will better lead us into a relationship with the overarching Folk Spirit of America that we all share. (Have paper & colored pencils at the ready)
Someone asked poet E. E. Cummings what home was for him. He responded poetically, talking about his lover. Home was “the stars on the tip of your tongue, the flowers sprouting from your mouth, the roots entwined in the gaps between your fingers, the ocean echoing inside your ribcage.” What about you? If you were asked to write or draw a description of what makes your place a home, what would that look like? This seems like a good time to identify & honor the influences that inspire us to live into our inner sense of home, where the Spirits of Place hope to inspire us.
Rosemary McMullen, Ph.D. in English literature, taught several decades at the college level, is certified in poetry therapy, family constellations, Waldorf Education, and biodynamic agriculture. She has facilitated group work in many of the above fields. Publications include essays, poetry, and fiction. She is a professional editor; she researches and blogs on emergent topics: rosemarymcmullen.blogspot.com and TimeSculpture2011.blogspot.com
22 January 2021- “Speaking with the Stars”
ON THIS DAY IN Occult HISTORY
1561 – Birthday of Francis Bacon – English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, & author. He served both as Attorney General & as Lord Chancellor of England. After his death, he remained extremely influential through his works, especially as philosophical advocate of materialism & practitioner of the scientific method during the scientific revolution. Bacon died of pneumonia, with one account by John Aubrey stating that he had contracted the condition while studying the effects of freezing on the preservation of meat. Rudolf Steiner speaks about him in a previous incarnation as Haroun al Raschid
1729 – Birthday of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist & art critic – one of the most outstanding representatives of the Enlightenment era. His plays & theoretical writings substantially influenced the development of German literature. He is widely considered by theatre historians to be the first dramaturg in his role at Abel Seyler’s Hamburg National Theatre.
From Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies – Volume I, Lecture 11 by Rudolf Steiner:
“Another personality, very well-known to you by name, is of exceptional interest in connection with investigations into karma. It is Lessing.
The circumstances of Lessing’s life, I may say, have always interested me to an extraordinary degree. Lessing is really the founder of the better sort of journalism, the journalism that has substance and is really out to accomplish something. Before Lessing, poets and dramatists had taken their subjects from the aristocracy. Lessing, on the other hand, is at pains to introduce bourgeois life, ordinary middle-class life, into the drama, the life concerned generally with the destinies of men as men, and not with the destinies of men in so far as they hold some position in society or the like. Purely human conflicts — that is what Lessing wanted to portray on the stage. In the course of his work he applied himself to many great problems, as for example when he tried to determine the boundaries of painting and of poetry in his Laocoon. But the most interesting thing of all is the powerful impetus with which Lessing fought for the idea of tolerance. You need only take his Nathan the Wise and you will see at once what a foremost place this idea of tolerance has in Lessing’s mind and life. In weaving the fable of the three kings in Nathan the Wise, he wants to show how the three main religions have gone astray from their original forms and are none of them really genuine, and how one must go in search of the true form, which has been lost. Here we have tolerance united with an uncommonly deep and significant idea.
Interesting, too, is the conversation between Freemasons, entitled Ernst und Falk, and much else that springs from Freemasonry. What Lessing accomplished in the way of critical research into the history of religious life is, for one who is able to judge its significance, really astounding. But we must be able to place the whole Lessing, in his complete personality, before us.
We begin to get an impression of Lessing when we observe, shall I say, the driving force with which he hurls his sentences against his opponents. He wages a polemic against the civilisation of Middle Europe — quite a refined and correct polemic, but at every turn hitting straight home. You must here observe a peculiar nuance in Lessing’s character if you want to understand the make-up of his life. On the one hand we have the sharpness, often caustic sharpness, in such writings as The Dramatic Art of Hamburg, and then we have to find the way over, as it were, to an understanding, for example, of the words used by Lessing when a son had been born to him and had died directly after birth. He writes somewhat as follows in a letter: Yes, he has at once taken leave again of this world of sorrow; he has thereby done the best thing a human being can do. In so writing, Lessing is giving expression to his pain in a wonderfully brave way, not for that reason feeling the pain one whit less deeply than someone who can do nothing but bemoan the event. This ability to draw back into himself in pain was characteristic of the man who at the same time knew how to thrust forward with vigour when he was developing his polemics. This is what makes it so affecting to read the letter written when his child had died immediately after birth, leaving the mother seriously ill.
Lessing had moreover this remarkable thing in his destiny — and it is quite characteristic, when one sets out to find the karmic connections in his case — that he was friends in Berlin with a man who was in every particular his opposite, namely, Nikolai; an example of a true philistine. Although a friend of Lessing, he was none the less a typical philistine-bourgeois; and he had visions, most strange and remarkable visions.
Lessing, genius as he was, had no visions, not even dreams. Nikolai literally suffered from visions. They came, and they went away only after leeches had been applied. Yes, in extremity they actually applied leeches to him, in order that he might not be forever tormented by the spiritual world which would not let him alone.
At the close of his life Lessing wrote the remarkable essay, The Education of the Human Race, at the end of which, quite isolated, as it were, the idea of repeated earth-lives appears. The book shows how mankind goes through one epoch of development after another, and how the Gods gave into man’s hand as a first primer, so to speak, the Old Testament, and then as a second primer the New Testament, and how in the future a third book will come for the further education of the human race. And then all at once the essay is brought to a close with a brief presentation of the idea that man lives through repeated earth-lives. And there Lessing says, again in a way that is absolutely in accord with his character: The idea of repeated earth-lives does not seem so absurd, considering that it was present in very early times, when men had not yet been spoilt by school learning? The essay then ends with a genuine panegyric on repeated earth-lives, finishing with these beautiful words: “Is not all Eternity mine?”
When a man like Lessing utters a profound aphorism such as this on repeated earth-lives, there is, properly speaking, no possibility of ignoring it.
You will readily see that the personality of Lessing is interesting in the highest degree from a karmic point of view, in relation to his own passage through different earth-lives. In the second half of the 18th century the idea of repeated earth-lives was by no means a commonly accepted one. It comes forth in Lessing like a flash of lightning, like a flash of genius. We cannot account for its appearance; it cannot possibly be due to Lessing’s education or to any other influence in this particular life. We are compelled to ask how it may be with the previous life of a man in whom at a certain age the idea of repeated earth-lives suddenly emerges — an idea that is foreign to the civilisation of his own day — emerges, too, in such a way that the man himself points to the fact that the idea was once present in very early times. The truth is that he is really bringing forward inner grounds for the idea, grounds of feeling that carry with them an indication of his own earth-life in the distant past. Needless to say, in his ordinary surface-consciousness he has no notion of such connections. The things we do not know are, however, none the less true. If those things alone were true that many men know, then the world would be poor indeed in events and poor indeed in beings”.
1788 –Birthday of Lord Byron, a British poet, politician, & a leading figure in the Romantic movement. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems, Don Juan & Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, & the short lyric poem, “She Walks in Beauty”.
He travelled extensively across Europe, especially in Italy, where he lived for seven years. Later in his brief life, Byron joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which many Greeks revere him as a national hero.
He died in 1824 at the age of 36 from a fever contracted while in Missolonghi. Often described as the most flamboyant & notorious of the major Romantics, Byron was both celebrated & castigated in life for his aristocratic excesses, including huge debts, numerous love affairs – with men as well as women, as well as rumors of a scandalous liaison with his half-sister – &self-imposed exile.
He also fathered Ada, Countess of Lovelace, whose work on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine is considered a founding document in the field of computer science.
Rudolf Steiner speaks about Lord Byron in the same lecture with Lessing- Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies – Volume I, Lecture 11:
“I began to take a special interest in the life of Lord Byron. And at that same time I got to know some Byron enthusiasts. One of them was the poetess, Marie Eugenie delle Grazie, of whom I shall have much to say in my autobiography. During a certain period of her life she was a Byron enthusiast. Then there was another, a most remarkable personality, a strange mixture of all possible qualities Eugen Heinrich Schmidt. Many of you who know something about the history of Anthroposophy will be familiar with his name.
He came to Vienna, a tall, slight man filled with a burning enthusiasm, which came to expression at times in very forcible gestures and so on. It was none the less genuine for that. And it was just this enthusiasm of Schmidt’s that gave me the required “jerk,” as it were. I thought I would like to do him a kindness, and as he had recently written a most enthusiastic and inspired article on Lord Byron, I introduced him to my other Byron enthusiast, Marie Eugenie delle Grazie. And now began a wildly excited discussion on Byron. The two were really quite in agreement, but they carried on a most lively and animated debate. All we others who were sitting round — a whole collection of theological students from the Vienna Catholic Faculty were there, who came every week and with whom I had made friends — all we others were silent. And the two who were thus conversing about Byron were sitting like this. — Here was the table, rather a long one, and at one end sat delle Grazie and at the other end, Eugen Heinrich Schmidt, gesticulating with might and main. All of a sudden his chair slips away from under him, and he falls under the table, his feet stretching right out to delle Grazie. I can tell you, it was a shock for us all! But this shock helped me to hit upon the solution of a particular problem.
Let me tell you of it quite objectively, as a matter of history. All that they had been saying about Byron had made a strong impression upon me, and I began to feel the keenest need to know how the karmic connections might be in the case of Byron. It was, of course, not so easy. But now I suddenly had the following experience. — It was really as if the whole picture of this conversation, with Eugen Heinrich Schmidt being so terribly impolite with his foot! — as if this picture had suddenly drawn my attention to the foot of Lord Byron, who was, as you know, club-footed. And from that I went on to say to myself: My beloved teacher, too, had a foot like that; this karmic connection must be investigated. I have already given you an example, in the affliction of the knee from which Eduard von Hartmann suffered, of how one’s search can be led back through peculiarities of this kind. I was able now to perceive the destiny of the teacher whom I loved and who also had such a foot. And it was remarkable in the highest degree to observe how on the one hand the same peculiarity came to view both in the case of Byron and of my teacher, namely, the club-foot; but how on the other hand the two persons were totally different from one another, Byron, the poet of genius, who in spite of his genius — or perhaps because of it — was an adventurer; and the other a brilliant geometrician such as one seldom finds in teaching posts, a man at whose geometrical imagination and treatment of descriptive geometry one could only stand amazed.
In short, having before me these two men, utterly different in soul, I was able to solve the problem of their karma by reference to this seemingly insignificant physical detail. This detail it was that enabled me to consider the problems of Byron and my geometry teacher in connection with one another, and thereby to find the solution”.
Steiner continues this thread in Karmic Relationships, Vol. V: Lecture IV
“The two men were there before me in this inner picture. And the karma of my teacher, as well as the peculiarity of which I have told you, led me to the discovery that in the 10th or 11th century, both these souls had lived in their earlier incarnations far over in the East of Europe where they came one day under the influence of a legend, a prophecy. This legend was to the effect that the Palladium, which in a certain magical way helped to sustain the power of Rome, had been brought to that city from ancient Troy, and hidden. When the Emperor Constantine conceived the wish to carry Roman culture to Constantinople he caused the Palladium to be transported with the greatest pomp and pageantry to Constantinople and hidden under a pillar, the details of which gave expression to his overweening pride. For he ordered an ancient statue of Apollo to be set at the top of this pillar, but altered in such a way as to be a portrait of himself. He caused wood to be brought from the Cross on which Christ had been crucified and shaped into a kind of crown which was then placed on the head of this statue. It was the occasion for indulging in veritable orgies of pride!
The legend went on to prophesy that the Palladium would be transferred from Constantinople to the North and that the power embodied in it would be vested eventually in a Slavonic Empire. This prophecy came to the knowledge of the two men of whom I have been speaking and they resolved to go to Constantinople and to carry off the Palladium to Russia. They did not succeed. But in one of them especially — in Byron — the urge remained, and was then transformed in the later life into the impulse to espouse the cause of freedom in Greece. This impulse led Byron, in the 19th century, to the very region, broadly speaking, where he had searched for the Palladium in an earlier incarnation.”
1849 – Birthday of August Strindberg, a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist & painter. A prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience, Strindberg’s career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote over 60 plays & more than 30 works of fiction, autobiography, history, cultural analysis, & politics. A bold experimenter & iconoclast throughout, he explored a wide range of dramatic methods & purposes, from naturalistic tragedy, monodrama, & history plays, to his anticipations of expressionist & surrealist dramatic techniques. From his earliest work, Strindberg developed innovative forms of dramatic action, language, & visual composition. He is considered the “father” of modern Swedish literature & his The Red Room (1879) has frequently been described as the first modern Swedish novel.
During the 1890s he spent significant time abroad engaged in scientific experiments and studies of the occult. A series of psychotic attacks between 1894 & 1896 (referred to as his “Inferno crisis”) led to his hospitalization & return to Sweden. Under the influence of the ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg, he resolved after his recovery to become “the Zola of the Occult”. In 1898 he returned to playwriting with ‘To Damascu’s, which, like The Great Highway (1909), is a dream-play of spiritual pilgrimage. His ‘A Dream Play’ (1902) – with its radical attempt to dramatize the workings of the unconscious by means of an abolition of conventional dramatic time & space & the splitting, doubling, merging, & multiplication of its characters – was an important precursor to both expressionism & surrealism. He also returned to writing historical drama, the genre with which he had begun his playwriting career. He helped to run the Intimate Theatre from 1907, a small-scale theatre, modelled on Max Reinhardt’s Kammerspielhaus, that staged his chamber plays (such as The Ghost Sonata)
Rudolf Steiner gives an amazing account of his former life in as an initiate in ancient Egypt, in a karmic knot with another. They then both reincarnated together again Strindberg as Julia & his friend as Titus Livius. This account must be read in full.
1901 – Deathday of Queen Victoria ruling over the United Kingdom, Ireland & India. She inherited the throne aged 18. The United Kingdom was already an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held relatively little direct political power. Privately, Victoria attempted to influence government policy & ministerial appointments; publicly, she became a national icon who was identified with strict standards of personal morality.
Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. Their nine children married into royal & noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the sobriquet “the grandmother of Europe”. After Albert’s death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning & avoided public appearances. As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign her popularity recovered. Her Golden& Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration.
Her reign of 63 years & seven months is known as the Victorian era. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, & military change within the United Kingdom, & was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. She was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son & successor, Edward VII, belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father.
Victoria wrote an average of 2,500 words a day during her adult life. From July 1832 until just before her death, she kept a detailed journal, which eventually encompassed 122 volumes. After Victoria’s death, her youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, was appointed her literary executor. Beatrice transcribed and edited the diaries covering Victoria’s accession onwards, & burned the originals in the process. Despite this destruction, much of the diaries still exist.
1910 – Deathday of Johann Steiner, father of Rudolf Steiner
“One spring day in 1860, an autocratic Hungarian magnate, a certain Count Hoyos, who owned several large estates in Austria, dismissed his game-keeper, because this game-keeper, Johannes Steiner wanted to marry Franziska Blie, one of the Count’s innumerable housemaids. Perhaps the old Count had a foreboding as to what a great spiritual revolution would be born of this marriage. (The baroque palace of Hom, where it happened, is still in the possession of the Hoyos family, and stands today just as it was one hundred years ago.) So Johannes Steiner had to look for another occupation, and got himself accepted as a trainee telegraphist and signalman by the recently opened Austrian Southern Railway. He was given his first job in an out-of-the-way request stop called Kraljevic (today in Yugoslavia), and there his first child, Rudolf, arrived on February 27, 1861. On the same day the child was taken for an emergency baptism to the parish Church of St. Michael in the neighboring village of Draskovec. The baptismal register was written in Serbo-Croat and Latin, and the entry still can be read today as of one Rudolfus Josephus Laurentius Steiner. “Thus it happened,” Rudolf Steiner writes in his autobiography, “that the place of my birth is far removed from the region where I come from.”
From the severity of the Puszta the family moved, when the boy was two years old, into one of the most idyllic parts of Austria, called “the Burgenland” since 1921. Comprising the foothills of the eastern Alps, it is of great natural beauty, very fertile, and drenched in history. It takes its name from the many Burgen, i.e. castles which at different times of history were erected on nearly every hill. During recent excavations coins bearing the head of Philip of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, have been found near Neudörfl, where the Steiners now settled, and where a daughter and a younger son were added to the family.
The management of the Austrian Southern Railway seems to have taken a sympathetic view toward the promising boy, and agreed to move father Steiner as stationmaster to several small stations south of Vienna, so that the eldest son was able to attend good schools as a day student, and finally in 1879 could matriculate at the Technical University of Vienna, then one of the most advanced scientific institutions of the world. Until then Rudolf Steiner’s school life had been fairly uneventful, except that some of his masters were rather disturbed by the fact that this teen-ager was a voracious reader of Kant and other philosophers, and privately was engrossed in advanced mathematics.” ~From the intro to Christianity as Mystical fact
Sunday 24 January 2021 – Reclaiming the Wisdom of America –
2–4 pm CST – An interactive Zoom Presentation with
Hazel Archer-Ginsberg, Rosemary McMullen, Anne Nicholson, Stewart Lundy, Sally Greenberg, Anne Dale
* Anne Nicholson, Social Scientist & tech guru is our Host
* Sally Greenberg – Opening Verse: Walt Whitman-Leaves of Grass
* Hazel Archer will explore the concept of Columbia as the Folk Spirit of America, as seen from the perspective of the Native Peoples’, as well as the Founding Fathers. How do we renew this for our age of the consciousness soul, as a preparation for the unveiling of the New Isis-Sophia in the 7th epoch – to fulfill the true destiny of America?
* Stewart Lundy of Perennial Roots Farm brings the connection of Bio-dynamics
* Rosemary McMullen sets the scene for the ancestors – ‘Land Acknowledgement’, as a way for each participant to look at their current placement in America. A look also at how The 3 Realms of Culture, Rights, Economy, becomes 4-fold when we bring in the element of Ecology.
* Artistic gesture: The Spirit of Place (Paper & Colored pencils suggested)
* Sally Greenberg & Anne Dale: a contemplation of the expression of our Civil Responsibility that recommits us to our core values, to one another, & to the Spirit of Place & Time.
* Breakout Groups: Social Sharing – What do you see is wanting to come into being in America? How will you contribute to it? Each will share their artistic creation in relation to these questions to see if something new arises.
* Anne Nicholson: Plenary- Closing
* Anne Dale – Closing: Verse for America by Rudolf Steiner
We are bringing Anthroposophy to the People! Our presentation will be screened along with many other offerings from around the country in conjunction with ‘The People’s Inauguration’.
Only 100 zoom slots, so don’t be late
Time: Jan 24, 2021 02:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 705 293 1041 – Passcode: dove
Dial by your location-Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/a961qZZhF
Meeting ID: 705 293 1041 – Passcode: 664936
for more info. contact Events & Festivals Coordinator Hazel Archer-Ginsberg hag@rsChicago.org