Water meets Air

Second week of Advent Background
Margo Hare

During this time of Advent we must face trials that make us worthy to receive the sacred birth of the Nathan soul, around the time of the Winter Solstice; which then guides us into the precession of the 13 Holy Nights; which culminates in the birth of Christ on the Epiphany.

a magical waldorf advent gnome garden - myriad natural toys & crafts

In the 1st week of Advent we meet the mineral kingdom to see our relationship with issues relating to our physical needs. We recognize that death & mineralization in the physical world of nature at this time helps us step into the karmic unfolding of ourselves & of humanity as a whole. Here we face the Fire trial, where we must rise to the challenge of cultivating a sense of justice. Fire meets earth. Our task is to burn away the dross of what does not serve so that we can stand upright in the face of what we are meeting in ourselves & in the world.

a magical waldorf advent gnome garden - myriad natural toys & crafts

Now we enter the 2nd week, related to the plant kingdom, where the etheric realm comes into play. Here we encounter the trial by water. Discretion & Self-restraint will help us meet these challenges. Water meets air. Practicing selflessness will help us build truthfulness in the face of the societal temptation to accept & perpetuate the blind lie. In the water trial we encounter our feeling life which is still quite dreamy, so we are called to bring thought into this realm, so we can judge our feelings objectively, working to understand what inspires them. And we are also challenged to bring Will into our feelings. Then we are able to control them & practice equanimity.

Art, Hilma af Klint, Evolution, No. 09, Group VI, 1906-1907, Modern, Museum  Quality, Postcard Z657536 by markopostca… | Hilma af klint, Stretched  canvas prints, Art
Hilma af Klint

These trials help us develop new spiritual organs – This week we practice breathing under water! See you in the pool.


Breath Out Painting by Michelle Young
Michelle Young

In the breathing process, we inhale fresh oxygen and exhale unusable carbon. A similar process takes place in all our sense perceptions. Just think, my dear friends, that you see something — let us take a radical case — suppose you see a flame. There a process takes place that may be compared with inhalation, only it is much finer. If you then close your eyes — and you can make similar experiments with every one of your senses — you have the after-image of the flame which gradually changes — dies down, as Goethe said. Apart from the purely physical aspect, the human ether body is essentially engaged in this process of reception of the light impression and its eventual dying down. Something very significant is contained in this process: it contains the soul element which, three millennia ago, was breathed in and out with the air. And we must learn to realize the sense process, permeated by the soul element in a similar way we have realized the breathing process three millennia ago.’ ~Rudolf Steiner, The Mission of the Archangel Michael VI – November 30, 1919


Blue Star Painting by Ivana Pelouchová | Saatchi Art
Ivana Pelouchová

Pod (Poem Of the Day)

~That quivering star is Her
Blue eye –
The watcher,
Awake in the darkening world…
When the eye opens I look back



Who Is Zwarte Piet? The History Behind The Christmas Controversy -  HistoryExtra

Today is the Feast Day of Old St. Nick, a bishop waring his red mantle & mitre hat, sporting a long, white beard & carrying his golden shepherds crook. Legend has it that he helped the poor & calmed the seas; & on his feast day gives children who are good sweets or gifts.

But beware if you are bad for black Pete, or Knecht Ruprecht, will put you in his bag & take you away to the black forest until you learn your lesson… So on the night of December 5th set out your boots & leave a carrot for his horse then go to bed & dream of doing good deeds like St. Nichplas once did…

In Waldorf schools St. Nick comes into the classroom of the lower grades & shakes the hand of each child telling them what they have done well, & what they have not done so well & need to improve. This always made quite an impression on the young children to receive this gentle reckoning.

The one we know of as St. Nicholas was born in 271 AD & died around December 6, 342 or 343 AD near the Asia Minor (Turkey) town of Myra, where he later became Bishop. He performed many good deeds & was a friend to the poor & helpless. Upon his death, myths soon sprang up about him all around the Mediterranean Sea. He was reputed to be able to calm the raging seas, rescue desperate sailors, & save children. He was soon named as the patron saint of sailors, & when Myra was overthrown, his bones were transported by sailors to Bari, a port in Italy, where a tomb was built over the grave & became the center of honor for St. Nicholas. From here the legend spread on around to the Atlantic Coast of Europe & the North Sea to become a European holiday tradition regardless of religion.

In the Netherlands, legend has it that Sinterklaas (Dutch name for St. Nicholas) arrives in the Netherlands by way of steamboat from Spain 2 weeks before his traditional birthday, December 6th, along with his helper, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), who will help disperse the gifts & candy to all the good children. Referring to his book that lists all the good & bad children, Sinterklaas will deliver presents to all the good children, but watch out if you’ve been bad! The Low Countries (Belgium & Luxemburg) have basically the same traditions surrounding St. Nicholas, but not to the extent of the Netherlands. Children in Luxemburg call him Kleeschen, & his helper is Hoseker (Black Peter). Belgian children know him as Sint Niklaas.

For families with older children & adults, different twists are added to the gift giving & may include gag gifts or the drawing of gift ideas or names, & most times are accompanied by poems with a “personal touch” that poke fun at the recipient in a gentle way (or not, depending on the families ). Wrapping the presents up in odd packages & planting a trail of clues is also part of the general fun, & can sometimes be pretty tricky to get to, depending on the squeamishness of the recipients.

In Germany, St. Nicholas is also known as Klaasbuur, Sunnercla, Burklaas, Bullerklaas,& Rauklas, & in eastern Germany, he is also known as Shaggy Goat, Ash Man, or Rider & is more reflective of earlier Norse influences that were blended in with the figure of St. Nicholas, when Christianity came to Germany. After the reformation, St. Nicholas’s attire began to change, maybe as a reflection of the change from the Roman church, & he started to wear a red suit with fur. Although he still visits many homes on Dec 5th/6th & leaves candy and gifts in the children’s shoes, more recently St. Nicholas has begun showing up on Christmas Eve in Germany & is called Father Christmas.

In France, he is also called Pere Noel (Father Christmas) & he travels in the company of Pere Fouettard. Pere Noel leaves presents for good children, while Pere Fouettard disciplines bad children.

St. Nicholas day was celebrated formerly in Russia, but under Communism he was changed to Grandfather Frost & wore blue instead of red. In Sicily, he comes on Dec 13th with Santa Lucia.


Moon and Sickle of Leo at dawn, Dec. 6, 2020

6 December 2020 – “Speaking with the Stars”: As dawn begins to break on tomorrow the waning gibbous Moon forms an isosceles triangle with Regulus &orange Algieba (Gamma Leonis).

Abstrait peinture peinture à l'étoile par RomanySteelePainting | Star  painting, Oil painting, Painting
Romy Steele

Rudolf Steiner’s Lectures on this day


Temptation of St.Thomas Aquinas - Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Vel as art  print or hand painted oil.
Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez

During the Feast of Saint Nicolas in 1273, Saint Thomas Aquinas had a mystical vision that made writing seem unimportant to him. At mass, he reportedly heard a voice coming from a crucifix that said, “Thou hast written well of me, Thomas; what reward wilt thou have?” to which Saint Thomas Aquinas replied, “None other than thyself, Lord.”

When Saint Thomas Aquinas’s confessor, Father Reginald of Piperno (an earlier incarnation of Ita Wegman) urged him to keep writing, he replied, “I can do no more. Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be like straw” Thomas Aquinas never wrote again.

Monet's Letters: The Man Behind the Masterpieces | Art & Object

1926 – Deathday of Claude Monet

1959- Deathday of Emil Bock, Priest & co-founder of the Christian Community


What are the Cross Quarter Days? - The Smart Happy Project

Calendar of the Soul, by Rudolf Steiner, translated by Roy Sadler.
The verse quartet related to this week moves on from Advent to a week ending 30.1.21, but in most years reaching February 1st, Imbolc, Feile Brighde, the quickening of the year, the virgin fire festival, Brigid’s Day; then to the week before the Summer Solstice; and to Lammas, Lughnasadh, loaf-mass, the first harvest festival, the mirror of this week’s verse.

The Cosmic Word
enwoven by the world
within my depths of being,
mysteriously urging to be heard,
now speaks: Inspire
your life’s endeavour
with spirit light of mine
to sacrifice yourself through Me.

In winter’s depths
true spirit presence warms;
it makes appearance real
and through the heart empowers
the coming of the springlife’s glory;
the soul’s revitalising fire
within the human core
defies world cold.

To summer’s heights
the sunlight’s radiant being rises
and takes my human feeling far
and into the sublime, the harmony
of worldwide space, wherein a faint,
new dawn within me intimates,
In future you will know:
a holy being felt you now.

The Cosmic Word
the world has let me guide
through senses’ gates
to soul ground
begins to speak:
Imagine in your spirit depths
my world expanse
to find in future Me in you.


Pin by RanishaArt // Floral & Landsca on Landscape oil paintings | Starry  night van gogh, Van gogh art, Paintings famous

Sunday 20 December 2020, 2 pm – 3pm CT

‘Awakening to the Light in the Darkness’: A Christmas Contemplation with Rev. Craig Wiggins. In-Person at The Rudolf Steiner Branch Chicago & online

Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/7052931041?pwd=ai94YmhnS1k3cWN3TFFlL3ozTDgxdz09 Meeting ID: 705 293 1041 – Passcode: Peace


For more info. contact Hazel Archer hag@rschicago.org


Wednesday 23 December 2020 – 7:15 pm – 8:30 pm CT

Unwrapping our Cosmic Gift: Thoughts on the Christmas Conference 1923

with the Central Regional Council. Themes inspired by Prokofieff’s book: May Human Beings Hear it! include: Turning Points of Time; Christ, Sophia and Michael; Foundation Stone Meditation.

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83533262486

for more info. contact Alberto Loya aloyavaca@utexas.edu


A Rose by Any Other Name Painting by Mary Benke

24 December 2020 – 5 January 2021, 11 am – 11:30 am CT

ASA Holy Nights 2020-21 “A Rose By Any Other Name…”

International online gathering on the Theme of the Divine Feminine. 

Hosted by Laura Scappaticci & Tess Parker, featuring the Sophia Working Group.

27 December – Leading Thoughts by ~hag

29 December – with Ultra-Violet Archer calling in on the Full Moon from Sweden

For the full schedule contact Tess Parker tess@anthroposophy.org

Register Here. Then check your email for a confirmation with the Zoom registration link. 


Rudolf Steiner – Esoteric Indications about Christmas for Herbert Hahn –  Giorgio Tarditi Spagnoli

The Festivals Committee for the Rudolf Steiner Branch in Chicago invites you to Holy Nights December 24, 2020, through January 5, 2021 

Please note–No meeting December 29th and 31st. See special offerings below for these dates. 

Fifth Gospel : From the Akashic Record by Rudolf Steiner (Trade Paper) for  sale online | eBay

The Fifth Gospel by Rudolf Steiner https://wn.rsarchive.org/Religion/GA148/English/RSPC1950/FG1950_index.html

Each evening we will study together on Zoom from 7 pm – 8 pm CST

Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/92592034861?pwd=Mmo0eURaWDVqYVlabTdSY1ltcUFxdz09 Meeting ID: 925 9203 4861  Passcode: Peace

On Tuesday, December 29th, 6 pm – 8:30 pm CST, we will join Anthroposophy Atlanta for a reading of Goethe’s fairy tale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily This has a separate zoom code: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82656914578?pwd=MHN3Mmt3OEhtQlZTMlc1NHFtUm80QT09 Meeting ID: 826 5691 4578    Passcode: Goethe

Masked ball Painting by Marcel Garbi | Saatchi Art

New Year’s Eve, there will be NO zoom call, as we will gather for our Annual NYE event. This year’s theme is “A Masked Ball” 6 pm till 10:30 pm 

6 pm Potluck and artistic mask making with Lucien Dante Lazar

7:30 – 9:30 Live Music with Jutta and the High Dukes 

10:10 pm Project Thought-Seed 

The evening ends at 10:30 pm

$20 donation

Nancy Poer

Wednesday, January 6, 2021, 2 pm – 4 pm CST Joan’s Epiphany: What Joan of Arc Calls for Today In-Person at Elderberries & The Rudolf Steiner Branch Chicago and online

Today on the Birthday of Joan of Arc, we welcome special guest Nancy Poer

We will also explore The Destinies of Individuals and of Nations, Lecture 5,  “The Nature of the Christ Impulse and the Michaelic Spirit Serving It” by Rudolf Steiner, with Leading Thoughts by Hazel Archer-Ginsberg

Social Sculpture: “The Passage” with Lucien Dante Lazar

We will also share an artistic exploration, singing and Eurythmy.

This event has a new Zoom Code https://zoom.us/j/7052931041 Meeting ID: 705 293 1041

For more info, contact Hazel Archer hag@rschicago.org

Peace and Good Will to All, Deborah Rogers on behalf of the Rudolf Steiner Branch Festivals Committee

13 thoughts on “Water meets Air

  1. Yes, and Parsifal would find the Grail, which answers all questions in the gnosis of the spirit. The so-called “big Why”, is the big Kahuna in the litany of: who, what, where, when, and how. ‘Why’ is the summation of all of these prior questions. Thus, Parsifal is to the Consciousness Soul, what Arthur is to the Intellectual Soul. And it can be shown that when Rudolf Steiner was in Weimar, writing his magnum opus, that he drew the sword from the stone.


  2. Thanks very much for these indications. The citation from The Balance Between Lucifer and Ahriman is the one I had in mind because it somehow connected to what Steiner shows in lecture 6 of GA 194 about the air-ensouling process coming to an end in the Greek era, and the veritable need for a new process of soul. The Christ Impulse would bring this with the Light; “I Am the Light of the World.” The old yoga breathing worked well in the third cultural epoch, but when the fourth came along, and Pranayama still did work, indeed, it caused Lucifer to arise in the soul, and torment with questions. Humanity lived with the Sentient Soul at the time, and questions were simply not heard of. For the philosophers, it was a different matter. They were initiates working toward the Intellectual Soul.

    Thus, you give further insight into just how important the figure of Oedipus is to human evolution. Oedipus takes the side of Ahriman, and knowing that by doing so, the necessary contraction of the etheric body in the direction of the physical body is assured. This sacrifice leads in its way to Judas, the betrayer of Christ for money. But, it is also a sacrifice because the Mystery of Golgotha absolutely had to take place on earth, and only Christ could do it. Judas becomes the agent of Ahriman:

    Jesus then answered, “That man [the betrayer] is the one for whom I shall dip the piece of bread and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the piece of bread, He *took and *gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After this, Satan then entered him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you are doing, do it quickly.” 28 Now none of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. 29 For some were assuming, since Judas kept the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we need for the feast”; or else, that he was to give something to the poor. 30 So after receiving the piece of bread, he left immediately; and it was night. John 13

      1. Yes, Parsifal became filled with questions, but his mother told him not to ask any, and also to be as obscure as possible. That is why she dressed him in rags when he followed the knight in shining armor. He simply felt compelled to go for some reason, and this reason remains a deep mystery today, although illuminated a great deal by Rudolf Steiner. The mother wanted to protect her child from outside influences because she, Herzeleide, had been Julian the Apostate in her previous life, and wherein as Emperor Julian, felt compelled to conduct a mission to Persia in order to align the Roman world with Persia because of the proliferation of the so-called “Cult of the Unconquered Sun”, which had become the official state religion amongst the aristocrats of Rome.
        Julian was assassinated in 363 AD on his way to Persia in order to make this alliance, and soon after, these cults died out in the Roman world, and were replaced by the formalized Christianity traceable to Emperor Constantine, who had died in 337 AD. So, watch out for Judas’ third betrayal as Constantine the Great.

        Indeed, the mystery of questions related to Parsifal is important because he became flooded with them over time, and yet failed to ask them when it mattered; for example, in meeting Amfortas, he wondered about this tragic figure and why he bore an injury that tied him to a couch, and how and why he was called, “the fisher king”. On the next morning, brimming with questions, Parsifal finds to his dismay that Amfortas has disappeared. Why?

        1. Parzifal stood at the threshold of a transformation of consciousness meant to bring a new impulse to counteract the Luciferic over-questioning – opening to the future impulse that brings discernment to know when to bring the right question at the right time – not to miss the mark = evil – but to be aligned with what serves best.

  3. Hi Hazel,

    I have been reading these lectures on the Mission of Michael, GA 194, and like very much your citation from the sixth lecture. Herein, Steiner summarizes what it means to move from the air-ensouling process , which can be traced back to the Jahve Impulse, when Jahve “formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed life into his nostrils and he became a living soul”; Gen. 2. This air-ensouling power existed right up to the fourth cultural epoch. The very act of breathing in and out spoke to the Jahve Impulse, and mankind lived within the divinity of the Godhead.

    Then, with the fourth cultural epoch, which began in Greece, this air-ensouling element diminished and needed to be replaced by something new. Efforts to keep the air-ensouling element alive led to Lucifer, who had the effect of tormenting the human beings with questions; questions in the age of the Sentient Soul. People were being torn apart until Oedipus came on the scene and provided the Riddle of the Sphinx.

    Hazel, I am sure, and hoping that you can tell us about the mythical figure of Oedipus, and the riddle of the questions enclosed within the Sphinx. It leads on to the Intellectual Soul, which the philosophers of the 4th cultural epoch saw as their bane of existence at that time. Just consider Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle for example. Steiner focused on these three, but he also gave a certain repute to Oedipus, the mythical figure who sacrificed himself for it to happen.

    1. We need only recall the name of Oedipus and we are in touch with a myth expressing what the ancient sages had to say on this subject. The old Greek legend, presented in so mighty and grandiose a way by the Greek tragedians, runs as follows: There was a king in Thebes, and his name was Laios. His spouse was Iokaste. For a long time they had no progeny. Then Laios enquired of the Oracle of Delphi whether he could not be vouchsafed a son; and the Oracle gave him the answer: If thou wilt have a son it will be one who shall kill thee. — In a state of intoxication — that is, in a state of dimmed consciousness — Laios begot a son. Oedipus was born; and Laios knew that this was the son who would kill him. He therefore resolved to abandon the child; and in order to insure his complete annihilation he caused his feet to be pierced. Then he was left to die; but a shepherd found the child and took pity on him. He brought him to Corinth, and there Oedipus was reared in the royal household. When he was grown he learned of the Oracle’s prophesy: that he would kill his father and wed his mother; but there was no escaping it. On account of being taken for the king’s son he had to leave the place where he was reared. On his way he met his real father and, without recognizing him, killed him. He came to Thebes; and because he was able to answer the Sphinx’ questions and solve the riddle of the grisly monster that led so many to their death, the Sphinx had to kill itself. Thus, for the time being, Oedipus was his country’s benefactor. He was made king and received the queen’s hand in marriage — his mother’s hand! Without knowing it, he had killed his father and united with his mother. He now ruled as king; but by reason of having acquired his rule in this way and of all the dreadful misfortune that clung to him, he brought untold misery upon his country.— In Sophocles’ drama we finally encounter him as blinded, as one who has destroyed his own eyesight.

      That is a story whose imagery originated in the old temples of wisdom; and what it intended to tell was that in a certain respect Oedipus could still make contact, in the old sense, with the spiritual world. His father had consulted the Oracle. Those oracles were the last heritage of the old clairvoyance, but they were powerless to establish peace in the outer world. They could not provide that harmony of the paternal and the maternal elements which was to be striven for and achieved.

      The circumstance that Oedipus solved the Sphinx’ riddle indicates that he was intended to represent the sort of man who had acquired a certain old type of clairvoyance simply through heredity; that is, he knew the nature of man to the extent to which the last remnants of the old primordial wisdom could provide such cognition. But never could it suffice to stem the raging of man against man, as symbolized by the parricide and the union with the mother. Although in touch with primordial wisdom, Oedipus is unable, by its means, to see through its complexity. This old wisdom no longer induced seership — that is what the old sages wanted to proclaim. Had it been attended by clairvoyance as in the old way of consanguinity, the blood would have spoken when Oedipus confronted first his father, and later, his mother; but the blood was silent. That is a graphic presentation of the disintegration of primordial wisdom.

      What had to happen in order that once and for all the inner harmonious compensation might be found between the maternal and paternal elements, between man’s own ego that is of the father, and the mother principle? The Christ impulse had to come. — And now we can peer from still another angle into certain depths of the Marriage in Cana of Galilee. We are told:

      The mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

      Jesus — or better, Christ — was to be the great example for humanity of a being who had achieved the inner concord between himself — that is, his ego — and the mother principle. At the Marriage in Cana of Galilee He indicated:

      Something passeth from me to thee.

      That was a new sort of passing from one to another: it was no longer as it had been, but implied a renewal of the whole relationship. It meant the lofty and enduring ideal of inner compensation and to lead them out of sin to salvation. In this way Judas Iscariot came into the environment of Christ Jesus and to cause the calamity which had been foretold, and which was destined to be fulfilled in the sphere of Christ Jesus. Schiller says:

      “An evil deed its own curse bears within:
      It multiplies, begetting evil brood.”[2]

      Judas became the betrayer of Christ Jesus. True, everything that was destined to come about through him had already been fulfilled in the murder of his father and the wedding of his mother; but he survived, so to speak, as a tool, because he was to be the evil instrument for bringing about good, thereby performing an act of supererogation.

      The individuality presented to us in the figure of Oedipus loses his sight, as a result of the evil he has wrought, the moment he realizes what he has done. But the other, whose identical destiny originated in his connection with the inherited primordial wisdom, does not become blind: he was chosen to fulfill destiny, to do the deed that would lead to the Mystery of Golgotha, that would bring about the physical death of Him Who is “the Light of the World” and Who enkindles the Light of the World in healing the man born blind. Oedipus had to lose his sight; to the blind man, Christ gave sight. Yet He died at the hands of one who, like Oedipus, was chosen to exemplify the gradual extinction of the ancient wisdom in mankind, to expose its insufficiency in the matter of bringing salvation and peace and love. For these to come, the Christ-Impulse was indispensable, and the event of Golgotha had to take place. There had first to come about something whose outer reflection is shown us in the relation between the Jesus-Christ Ego and His Mother at the Marriage in Cana of Galilee.

      And one thing more was needed as well. The writer of the John Gospel describes it as follows: There beneath the Cross stood the Mother, and there stood the disciple “whom the Lord loved”, Lazarus-John, whom He Himself had initiated and through whom the wisdom of Christianity was to be handed down to posterity; he through whom man’s astral body was to be so powerfully influenced as to render it capable of harboring the Christ principle. There in the human astral body the Christ principle was to live, and it was John’s mission to pour the Christ principle into this astral body. But in order that this might come to pass, this Christ principle, raying down from the Cross, had still to unite with the etheric principle, with the Mother. That is why from the Cross Christ called down the words:

      From this hour forth, this is thy
      mother — and this is thy son.

      That means, He unites His wisdom with the maternal principle.

      Thus we see the profundity, not only of the Gospels, but of all the interrelationships in the Mysteries. Truly, the old legends are related to the prophesies and Gospels of more recent times as is presage to fulfillment. In the legends of Oedipus and of Judas we are clearly shown that once upon a time there was a divine, primordial wisdom; that this wisdom vanished; and that a new wisdom had to come. And this new wisdom will carry men forward to a point that would never have been attainable through the old wisdom. The Oedipus legend tells us what must have occurred without the intervention of the Christ impulse; and the nature of the opposition to the Christ, the rigid clinging to the ancient wisdom, is made clear in the Judas legend. But the principle which even the old legends and myths had declared inadequate is brought to us in a new light through the new revelation, through the Gospel. The Gospel gives us the answer to what the old legends expressed in images of the old wisdom. In legends we were told that nevermore can the old wisdom provide what humanity needs for the future; but the Gospel, the new wisdom, says: I bring tidings of what mankind needs, of what could never have come without the influence of the Christ principle, without the event of Golgotha. ~Rudolf Steiner, The Gospel of St. John, XI

    2. In its normal state, the ether-body moulds and shapes the physical form of man. But as soon as the ether-body expands, as soon as it tries to create for itself greater space and an arena transcending the boundaries of the human skin, it tends to produce other forms. The human form cannot here be retained; the ether-body strives to grow out of and beyond the human form. In olden days men found the solution for this problem. When an extended ether-body — which is not suited to the nature of man but to the Luciferic nature — makes itself felt and takes shape before the eye of soul, what kind of form emerges? The Sphinx!

      Here we have a clue to the nature of the Sphinx. The Sphinx is really the being who has us by the throat, who strangles us. When the ether-body expands as a result of the force of the breathing, a Luciferic being appears in the soul. In such an ether-body there is then not the human, but the Luciferic form, the form of the Sphinx. The Sphinx is the being who brings doubts, who torments the soul with questions.

      And so there is a definite connection between the Sphinx and the breathing process. But we also know that the breathing process is connected in a very special way with the blood. Therefore the Luciferic forces also operate in the blood, permeating and surging through it. By way of the breathing, the Luciferic forces can everywhere make their way into the blood of the human being and when excessive energy is promoted in the blood, the Luciferic nature — the Sphinx — becomes very strong.

      Because man is open to the Cosmos in his breathing, he is confronted by the Sphinx. It was paramountly during the Greco-Latin epoch of civilization that, in their breathing, men felt themselves confronting the Sphinx in the Cosmos. The legend of Oedipus describes how the human being faces the Sphinx, how the Sphinx torments him with questions. The picture of the human being and the Sphinx, or of the human being and the Luciferic powers in the Cosmos, gives expression to a deeply-rooted experience of men as they were during the Fourth Post-Atlantean epoch, and indicates that when, in however small a degree, a man breaks through the boundaries of his normal life on the physical plane, he comes into contact with the Sphinx-nature. At this moment Lucifer approaches him and he must cope with Lucifer, with the Sphinx.

      The basic tendency of our Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch is different. The trend of evolution has been such that the ether-body has contracted and is far less prone to diffusion or expansion. The ether-body, instead of being too large, is too small, and this will become more marked as evolution proceeds. If it can be said that in the man of ancient Greece, the ether-body was too large, it can be said that in the man of modern times the ether-body is compressed and contracted, has become too small..

      Within you, separate as it were from this “breath man” is the other pole: the “nerve man” with the circulating nerve-fluid. The contact between the “nerve man” and the blood is a purely external one. Just as those etheric forces which tend towards the Luciferic nature can only find easy access to the blood by way of the breath, so the etheric forces which tend towards the Mephistophelean or Ahrimanic nature can only approach the nervous system — not the blood.

      Ahriman is deprived of the possibility of penetrating into the blood because he cannot come near the warmth of the blood. If he wants to establish a connection with a human being, he will therefore crave for a drop of blood, because access to the blood is so difficult for him. An abyss lies between Mephistopheles and the blood. When he draws near to man as a living being, when he wants to make a connection with man, he realizes that the essentially human power lives in the blood. He must therefore endeavor to get hold of the blood.

      That Faust’s pact with Mephistopheles is signed with blood is a proof of the wisdom contained in the legend. Faust must bind himself to Mephistopheles by way of the blood, because Mephistopheles has no direct access to the blood and craves for it. Just as the Greek confronted the Sphinx whose field of operation is the breathing system, so the man of the Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch confronts Mephistopheles who operates in the nerve-process, who is cold and scornful because he is bloodless, because he lacks the warmth that belongs to the blood. He is the scoffer, the cold, scornful companion of man.

      Just as it was the task of Oedipus to get the better of the Sphinx, so it is the task of man in the Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch to get the better of Mephistopheles. Mephistopheles stands there like a second being, confronting him. The Greek was confronted by the Sphinx as the personification of the forces which entered into him together with excessive vigor of the breathing process. The human being of the modern age is confronted by the fruits of intellect and cold reason, rooted as they are in the nerve-process. Poetic imagination has glimpsed, prophetically, a picture of the human being standing over against the Mephistophelean powers; but the experience will become more and more general, and the phenomenon which, as I have said, will appear in childhood, will be precisely this experience of the Mephistophelean powers…

      Oedipus was the mightiest conqueror of the Sphinx; but every Greek who wrestled for manhood was also, at a lower level, victorious over the Sphinx. Oedipus is merely a personification, in a very typical form, of what every Greek was destined to experience. Oedipus must prove himself master of the forces contained in the processes of the breathing and the blood. He personifies the nerve-process with its impoverished ether-forces, in contrast to those human beings who are altogether under the sway of the breathing and blood processes. Oedipus takes into his own nature those forces which are connected with the nerve-process, that is to say, the Mephistophelean forces; but he takes them into himself in the right and healthy way, so that they do not become a second being by his side, but are actually within him, enabling him to confront and master the Sphinx.

      This indicates to us that in their rightfully allotted place, Lucifer and Ahriman work beneficially; in their wrongful place — there they are injurious. The task incumbent upon the Greek was to get the better of the Sphinx-nature, to cast it out of himself. When he was able to thrust it into the abyss, when, in other words, he was able to bring the extended ether-body down into the physical body, then he had overcome the Sphinx. The abyss is not outside us; the abyss is man’s own physical body, into which the Sphinx must be drawn in the legitimate and healthy way. But the opposite pole — the nerve-process — which works, not from without but from within the Ego, must here be strengthened. Thus is the Ahrimanic power taken into the human being and put in its right place.

      Oedipus is the son of Laios. Laios had been warned against having a child because it was said that this would bring misfortune to his whole race. He therefore cast out the boy who was born to him. He pierced his feet, and the child was therefore called “Oedipus,” i.e., “club foot.” That is the reason why, in the drama, Oedipus has deformed feet.

      I have said already that when etheric forces are impoverished, the feet cannot develop normally, but will wither. In the case of Oedipus this condition was induced artificially. The legend tells us that he was found and reared by shepherds after an attempt had been made to get rid of him. He goes through life with clubbed feet. Oedipus is Mephistopheles — but in this case Mephistopheles is working in his rightful place, in connection with the task devolving upon the Fourth Post-Atlantean epoch…

      All this shows us that Faust, in reality, is Oedipus reversed. The Ahriman-nature in Oedipus has to get the better of Lucifer; the Lucifer-nature in Faust has to help him to overcome Ahriman-Mephistopheles. Ahriman-Mephistopheles operates more in the external world, Lucifer more in the inner life. All the misfortunes that befall Oedipus because he must take the Ahriman-nature into himself, are connected with the external world. Doom falls upon his race, not merely upon himself. Even the doom that falls upon him is of an external character; he pierces his eyes and blinds himself; similarly, the pestilence which sweeps his native city — this, too, is an external doom. Faust’s experiences, however, are of the soul — they are inner tragedies. Again in this respect, Faust reveals himself as the antithesis of Oedipus.

      In these two figures, both of them dual — Oedipus and Sphinx, Faust and Mephistopheles — we have typical pictures of the evolution of the Fourth and Fifth Post-Atlantean epochs…

      In order that the Ego should be strengthened, it was necessary for Ahriman-Mephistopheles to enter into Oedipus — the typical representative of the Greeks. In the man of the modern age, the Ego has become too strong and he must break free. But this he can only do by deepening his knowledge of spiritual happenings, of the world to which the Ego truly belongs. The Ego must know that it is a citizen of the spiritual world, not merely the inhabitant of a human body. This is the demand of the age in which we ourselves are living. The man of the Fourth Post-Atlantean epoch was called upon to strive with might and main for consciousness in the physical body; the man of the Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch must strive to become conscious in the spiritual world, so to expand his consciousness that it reaches into the spiritual world.

      Spiritual Science is thus a fundamental factor in the evolution of the Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch. ~Rudolf Steiner, The Balance in the World and Man, Lucifer and Ahriman, lecture 1

    3. Looking back to the Egyptian pyramids we observe a type of geometric form which demonstrates certain things symbolically. The close union of spirit — the formative human spirit — and the physical form had not yet been completed. We see this with special clearness in the Sphinx, the origin of which is to be traced to a remembrance of the Atlantean etheric human form. In its physical form the Sphinx gives us no direct conviction of this union, although it is a great human conception; in it we see the thought embodied that man is still animal-like below and only attains to what is human in the etheric head.

      What confronts us on the physical plane is ennobled in the fourth age in the forms of Greek plastic art; and the moral life, the destiny of man, we find depicted in the Greek tragedies. In them we see the inner life of the spirit played out upon the physical plane in a very wonderful way; we see the meaning of earthly evolution in so far as the gods are connected with it…

      Let us think once more of the Sphinx, that wondrous, enigmatic form which later became the Sphinx of Oedipus, who put its well-known riddle to man. We have learnt already that the Sphinx is built up from that human form which on the physical plane still resembled that of animals, although the etheric part had already assumed human form. In the Egyptian age man could only see the Sphinx in an etheric form after he had passed through certain stages of initiation. Then it appeared to him. But the important thing is that when a man had true clairvoyant perception it did not appear to him merely as a lump of wood does, but certain feelings were necessarily associated with the vision.

      Under certain circumstances a callous person may pass by a highly important work of art and remain unmoved by it; clairvoyant consciousness is not like this; when really developed the fitting emotion is already aroused. The Greek legend of the Sphinx expresses the right feeling, experienced by the clairvoyant during the ancient Egyptian period and also in the Grecian Mysteries, when he had progressed so far that the Sphinx appeared to him. What was it that then appeared before his eyes? He beheld something incomplete something that was in course of development. The form he saw was in a certain way related to that of animals, and in the etheric head we saw what was to work within the physical form in order to shape it more like man. What man was to become, what his task was in evolution, this was the question that rose vividly before him when he saw the Sphinx — a question full of longing, of expectation, and of future development.

      The Greeks say that all investigation and philosophy have originated from longing; this is also a saying of clairvoyants. A form appears to man which he can only perceive with his astral consciousness; it worries him, it propounds a riddle, the riddle of man’s future. Further, this etheric form, which was present in the Atlantean epoch and lived on as a memory into the Egyptian age, is embodied more and more in man, and re-appears on the other side in the nature of man. It reappears in all the religious doubts, in the impotence of our age of civilization when faced with the question: What is man? In all unanswered questions, in all statements that revolve round “Ignorabimus,” we have to see the Sphinx. In ages that were still spiritual man could rise to heights where the Sphinx was actually before him — today it dwells within him in countless unanswered questions.

      It is therefore very difficult for man at the present time to arrive at conviction with regard to the spiritual world. The Sphinx, which formerly was outside him, is now in his inner being, for a Being has appeared in the central epoch of post-Atlantean evolution Who has cast the Sphinx into the abyss — into the individual inner being of every man…
      ~Rudolf Steiner, Universe, Earth and Man, 11

    1. As I spoke about in the last musing, if we are awake, Advent is a time when the human being faces many trials. In Sergei O Prokofieff’s book ‘The Cycle of the Year as a Path to Initiation’, he connects the first 3 weeks of Advent to the trials of Fire, Water, & Air – found in Steiner’s fundamental book: ‘How to Know Higher Worlds’. Only when we have passed these tests can we enter the Temple of Wisdom & give birth to love. yay?

      We can also connect these trials to the Foundation Stone Meditation.

      THE FIRST WEEK is the FIRE trial. And it involves the concept of Memory which can reveal to our soul the spiritual aspect of all sensory things. How do we experience this?

      Inside us we have a realm related to our limbs, which is connected with all the functions that are unconscious in us, like our digestion. In this realm we destroy physical matter in order to think. We eat, we digest, we think. But there is another side to this mystery. It is in this realm, that we digest the spirit in the world, all that we perceive, in order to remember. The realm of memory & thought, belongs to the realm of destruction in us, the realm of fire, the realm of physical & spiritual digestion./ To pass through the ‘Fire’ Trial is to reverse the fact that in order to think, we have to destroy something physical in us, to kill something in us, & also outside us; this then becomes a memory.

      But how do we reverse this? The Foundation Stone Meditation tells us how: Practice Spirit Recalling – this is about uniting the spirit with matter. When we do this we are ‘Turning Stones to Bread’ – we are converting what is matter, what is abstract & dead, into spirit; it becomes a new digestion, an etherization of all we experience in our will. And this also transforms what we eat physically! We turn everything that enters into us into spirit, so that we do not live by ‘bread’ alone – but what God gives us – the spirit. We need both.

      We must also awaken to the temptations around us that try to seduce us with perceptions that are only physical, & thoughts that are abstract corpses, which prevent this sacred memory of our spiritual nature. When we practice spirt recalling, we are born again. Then what is ‘born’ in our will is a new consciousness, a consciousness of the Father God who created us – The realm of Memory, the place of our ‘Un-born-ess’ & that thru God we are born. EX DEO NASCIMUR. We remember ourselves as spiritual beings. This gives us the forces to pass thru the Fire Trial without getting burnt, rising from the fire, collecting its warmth for a new consciousness based on life & creation not just destruction. ///

      The Second Week of ADVENT is the WATER trial, which is all about balance & discernment. This trial requires that we find a reliable faculty of judgement – & this helps us in our practice of ‘Spirit Mindfulness’. /How is this faculty of right judgement related to water? In our bodies everything to do with the fluid element, our blood, lymph etc is related to our rhythmic system of heart & Lungs. In order for us to live we must breathe in & out rhythmically, our blood must pulse rhythmically – we need a balance between inner & outer. This is connected to the etheric body which is connected to the Sun, which we have in common with the plant kingdom, which so unselfishly supports us, & to the feeling life in our souls.

      Soul harmony is a balance between what enters in, & what goes out, in the same way that our physical body is only in harmony when the periphery & the center, are in balance. How do we achieve balance of soul in a world so full of chaos & disharmony? Well besides the 6B, The Foundation Stone Mediation comes to our aid: Practice Spirit Mindfulness in Balance of Soul. In other words, to practice perceiving spiritually what enters into our souls. In this way we learn to understand what influences our feelings, how much of our feelings really belongs to us, & how much is ‘fed to us’ by the things outside of us.

      Our feeling life is dreamy, but when we bring thought into our feeling life, we are able to judge our feelings objectively & are able to understand what inspires them. Also, when we bring Will into our feelings, we are able to direct them. In order to develop a faculty of judgement we must cultivate: Balance of Soul, Self-Control, Equanimity – which requires us to develop: a consciousness of what is rising up from the will, & a consciousness of what is descending from the thought realm into the life of feelings.

      This creates a picture of our breathing. And then we can ask: Where does breathing-in, end, & breathing-out, begin? – This is the zero point, between breaths, between heart-beats. This is the place where Faust tells Mephistopheles, ‘In your nothing I shall find my all.’ So this is the middle realm, where we find ‘the pause’ – the balance – The Christ in us, which stands between thinking, feeling & willing. To find this place of balance we must develop Temperance & Prudence, strict task masters that bring us great virtues, giving us the ability to hold the middle. And Wisdom is what helps us to stay balanced in the life of feeling. It detaches us from the ’emotional’; so that then we can objectively perceive & direct the motion, in the emotion.

      And the Being of Love is the fulcrum – the true judge of how to balance the scales. Thru Love we can truly feel, because feelings when balanced, create an organ of perception for a consciousness of the etheric Christ.
      And we become objective observers of the play that goes on in our own souls which we must understand, so we don’t drown in the sorrows of the world, or deny that what we see outside us doesn’t also belong to us.

      ‘The Christ Will encircling us holds sway’ to take us safely thru the chaos of the world, if we grasp with consciousness the fact that we have to live not only in the spiritual life which is pulsing in the air above, but we also have to dive into the swimming pool of life itself. This duality shouldn’t polarize us so that we are swinging from emotion to emotion. We are not under water, we are at the wheel, steering the boat.

      Being Temperate means being balanced enough to steer clear of the illusions based on fear, then we can make our way to the living truth. Being prudent means knowing when & how we are meant to express our thoughts in relation to what others need to hear. This is love, the answer to the water trial, & an acknowledgment of the selfless nature of the plant world, -the perfect revelation of the working of the ocean of life, the etheric world. When it is absent, the material world reveals only death. In Christo Morimur – In Christ Death Becomes life.

      Plants show us how the etheric element can take hold of matter & lift it into light. And in this living universe, nothing exists for itself alone: everything is interwoven in an ecosystem of mutual support.

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