That which was is as that which will be, and that which will be is as that which was, to accomplish the miracles of eternity. – Meditations on the Tarot, p. 13
Those of my readers (and I feel there are at least a few of you) who are familiar with the works of Valentin Tomberg and Robert Powell will likely be aware of a perspective that has developed from the research and experience of these two spiritual teachers. This perspective describes a line of transmission, from Rudolf Steiner to his successor, Valentin Tomberg, and from Tomberg to his successor, the Novalis individuality — an anonymous woman acting as the spiritual inspiration for Robert Powell in particular, but a number of other modern spiritual teachers as well.
For the past 8 years or so, I have taken this up as one of my foundational perspectives for looking at the development of modern spirituality. Akin to other spiritual content I’ve come across, this perspective felt correct from the first time I read about it; I knew it was true. That being said, lingering questions have remained, and rightly so. My feeling for truth may be spot on, but that in no way removes the responsibility I and anyone else has to give due scrutiny to any piece of spiritual information. It is only in this way that we can unite with that which streams from our “truth-sense,” our intuition, in freedom.
And so despite the obvious, intuitive correctness of this line of transmission, problems arise, questions that ought to be held and offered to the spiritual world. For example, (and this is a common question) just why did Valentin Tomberg become Catholic? Some (e.g. Prokofiev) go so far as to say that Tomberg was a possessed Jesuit who completely turned his back on Steiner and Anthroposophy. Anyone who has read Tomberg’s work from the 1950’s-70’s should know that this is untrue; yet the shift in orientation is still odd. On the same note, if Tomberg emphasized the unity of the exoteric Church of Peter and the esoteric Church of John, and emphasized the sanctity and eternal nature of the seven sacraments, how can the Sophia Priesthood and the new sacraments originating from the Sophia Foundation (co-founded by Robert Powell in 1994) be justified? Is this not once again a 90° turn? From reading the description of the three teachers in, for example, Powell’s The Most Holy Trinosophia, one pictures a seamless transition from one teacher to the next, each carrying on the fundamental impulses of their predecessor. And yet when we look at the reality, it seems that each teacher has re-written the playbook. How can we possibly resolve this apparent contradiction?
Having lived with both an unwavering commitment to the spiritual impulses of the three teachers, while carrying these questions and contradictions in the background of my commitment for some 8 years, I was relieved to be given an answer a few weeks ago. I will not say the answer, but certainly for me a new perspective has opened up that I find incredibly fruitful.
Valentin Tomberg answered the question as to why he entered the Catholic church some 9 years before he did so. Let me explain:
In his Meditations on the New Testament found in the volume Christ and Sophia, Tomberg comes to the seven archetypal healing miracles of Christ in the 7th meditation. There he describes these healing miracles as depicted in the Gospel of St. John as such:
“If we allow John’s Gospel to speak to our souls in silence, it tells us through its whole composition that the seven miracles of Christ are acts of healing that were performed for a few so that, after the Mystery of Golgotha, they might be manifested to the many. Thus those miracles are not just miracles; they are also signs of the future spiritual and bodily healing processes within the human organism, which is sick as a consequence of the fall of humanity.”
As I read his meditations on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd healing miracles following on from this quote, what began to dawn on me was that the esoteric, future-orientated aspects of these miracles apply respectively to the missions of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd great teachers of the 20th century. It is not simply an uninterrupted stream of transmission at work; nor is it the haphazard and independent work of three great leaders. They are at once distinct yet part of a united whole, in exactly the same way as the miracles of Christ. The seven miracles of John’s Gospel do not describe Christ changing water into wine seven times, nor healing seven different paralyzed men. They are seven totally different organs of one body. They are seven distinct tones of one scale, made to play the song of the Passion and Resurrection. These same miracles, seeded on the physical level almost 2000 years ago, are now sprouting in the etheric realm. The vessels through which Christ performs these seven miracles in our time, on a new level, are the Great Teachers.
Tomberg emphasizes that the first miracle, that of changing water into wine, was more than anything else a healing of the future. The transformation of human relationship and spiritual destiny is what is at question here; and what is of concern here was equally that of Rudolf Steiner in the development of Anthroposophy. The imagery of old wine exhausting itself, replaced by water — this being the natural course of events — only to be miraculously transformed into the “new wine” through that which wove between Jesus and Mary; can we think of a more beautiful and succinct way of describing the advent of Anthroposophy? The old clairvoyance runs dry, replaced by the cool, clear logic of scientific materialism, which is then magically transformed into the new clairvoyance in the form of a science of the Spirit via the agency of Anthropos (Christ) Sophia (Mary). And just as the first miracle was a sign pointing to the future, so is Anthroposophy more than anything a deed for the sake of the future. It will not be understood nor come to its full flowering for many years; indeed, one might say it is the first product of the future Age of Aquarius.
The Christmas Conference; the Foundation Stone; the General Anthroposophical Society; the second Goetheanum. These represent the hallmark of the first miracle, accomplished through the vessel of Rudolf Steiner.
After Rudolf Steiner’s death, Valentin Tomberg came to fulfill his prophesied mission as proclaimer of the Etheric Christ, a role he filled for over 10 years (the entirety of the 1930’s). Over the course of these years, he was increasingly ostracized by the leadership of the General Anthroposophical Society, the Free Groups, and the Christian Community. He resigned membership officially in 1938, stopped working in an anthroposophical context at all by 1940, and by 1945 had formally entered the Catholic Church. Many justifications have been given for this. My understanding (and that of quite a few others as far as I know) for a long time had been that he sought for a connection first to the Christian Community and then to the Russian Orthodox Church, and only upon failing on both of those fronts did he join the Catholic Church. But were there only negative reasons for Tomberg to become Catholic? The narrative almost always seems to revolve around “if only” statements: if only Steiner had lived until the 1930’s; if only Tomberg had been recognized as the Maitreya; if only the split in the society in 1935 hadn’t occurred — possibly then, events could have taken their (supposedly) pre-destined course.
However, when we read Tomberg’s description of the second miracle, we come to realize that the pre-destined course was always that Tomberg would become Catholic. He characterizes the second miracle as a reversal of the first: rather than a healing of the future, the second miracle is Christ’s healing of the past. The healing power of Christ moved backwards through the hereditary stream, bestowing the Sun-power of the “I” to the nobleman, who had sacrificed his ego for the sake of serving his master’s. This resulted in the healing of the body of the nobleman’s son, which had become ill due to the weakness of the father’s “I.”
This was accomplished on a new level through the activities of Valentin Tomberg from 1945 until his death in 1973. The task of healing the future had already been initiated by Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophical movement. It was now left to Tomberg to heal the “hereditary stream” of the past. When it comes to heredity, we are reminded of Tomberg’s characterization of the law “Honor thy Father and thy Mother” in Meditations on the Tarot, in which this law is applied to Tradition. Tradition is the hereditary stream that Tomberg healed: Catholic, Martinist, French Occultist, and Hermetic Tradition were all infused with the healing power of the Etheric Christ over the course of 28 years. Steiner accomplished the task of seeding the future in the present; Tomberg counterbalanced this task by infusing the past with the present, actually transforming the past.
Tomberg worked on his magnum opus, Meditations on the Tarot, between 1957-1967; this is the hallmark, the ultimate expression, of the second miracle of the Etheric Christ.
In the next section, we will look at the third miracle, and see if there is a cosmic rhythm underlying the accomplishment of the miracles.