The Seven Miracles (Part 2)

In the previous section we looked at the unfolding of the first two miracles of the Etheric Christ.  This brings us to the third miracle.  Tomberg characterizes this miracle as extending even further into the past than the second miracle (which healed the hereditary past).  This miracle heals the karmic past of humanity.  Christ comes to a paralyzed man who has been waiting 38 years to be healed by activity of the Angel stirring water in the star shaped Pool of Bethesda.  He heals this man, restoring movement to his limbs, by giving a call to the man’s conscience, healing “the dead” within him (his karmic history that lay at the root of his physical malady).

Once again, we are given an image-word that perfectly expresses the task and mission of Robert Powell over the past 43 years.  The two largest pieces of Powell’s life work have been astrological karma research and eurythmy as a spiritual path.  “Rise!  Take up thy bed, and walk” — align yourself with the stars above, take up your karmic burden, and move into the etheric realm.  The Etheric Christ, via Novalis, via Robert Powell has accomplished the task of transforming human karma by realigning it with the stars (the physical expression of the Hierarchies).  He has accomplished the miracle of re-establishing our lost mobility, a mobility that extends into the etheric realm through eurythmy, creating the possibility of making a connection with the Etheric Christ.

Between 1994 and the year 2000, Robert Powell founded both the Sophia Foundation and the School of Choreocosmos.  These organizations in particular are the focal point of the third miracle of the Etheric Christ.

In the 1920’s, the School of Archangel Michael.  In the 1960’s, the School of Christ.  In the 1990’s, the School of Sophia.  These are not rivals, they are portions of a single organism, head, heart and limbs.  These Schools were founded about 35-36 years apart from each other.  We might wonder, is there a specific cosmic rhythm to the unfolding of the miracles?

The unfolding of the miracles follows the rhythm of Christ’s ego.  I will not lay out the details of this rhythm here, but refer the reader to the Journal for Star Wisdom 2017, in which Robert Powell goes into some detail around this rhythm, which is that of the Jupiter Return.  From 1861 through 1932, Jupiter’s ingress into Leo marked the descent into a new sphere.  Since 1945, it has been the ingress into Virgo marking the transition.

The miracles play themselves out over the course of 22 of these Jupiter returns, 22 phases related to the 22 Arcana of the Tarot.  Here we will remind ourselves of the divine Name YHVH as described in Meditations on the Tarot. The first letter of the divine Name is Yod, which is Mysticism (the inner experience of the divine).  The second letter, Hey, is Gnosis (the experience brought to consciousness).  The third letter, Vau, is Sacred Magic (human will ignited by divine will to accomplish a deed).  The fourth letter, the second Hey, is Hermeticism, the summary of the prior three in a schooling or teaching.

These four letters repeat themselves over and over again in the 22 Major Arcana, the second Hey always becoming the Yod of the next Name:

Yod = Magician

Hey = High Priestess

Vau = Empress

Hey = Emperor

Yod = Emperor

Hey = Pope

Vau = Lover

Hey = Chariot

And so on. So we see that while the Emperor (Hermeticism) is the ultimate goal of the first three Arcana (Mysticism, Gnosis, Magic), he is also the mystical origin of the next Name (Obedience, Poverty, Chastity, Self-Mastery).  The same holds true for The Chariot, Wheel of Fortune, Death, Tower of Destruction, and The Sun.

The same principle is at work throughout the 22 Jupiter cycles in question for the accomplishment of Christ’s miracles.  The first four are:

September 21, 1896 – August 4, 1908 (Sphere of Archai)

August 4, 1908 – June 15, 1920 (Sphere of Archangels)

June 15, 1920 – April 25, 1932 (Sphere of Angels)

April 25, 1932 – April 1, 1945 (Sphere of Man/Mineral Earth)

The first phase, from 1896-1908, was a time of mystical experience, when Rudolf Steiner first encountered the Mystery of Golgotha in 1899.  Gradually, from 1902 onwards, his mystical experience came to expression in his lectures to the Theosophical Society.  This time period transitioned mankind into the time of miracles.

The second phase, from 1908-1920, was a time of gnosis.  That which had been the inner experience of Steiner (i.e. the Presence of Christ) became his teaching.  This time period saw not only his greatly increased focus on the Gospels and the imminent Second Coming, but of separating from the Theosophical Society to form the Anthroposophical Society, primarily on the grounds that Christ and Christianity were not understood at all correctly by the Theosophists.  This was a time of preparation for the coming miracle.

The third phase, from 1920-1932, was the time of sacred magic, in other words of a miracle.  This was the time of the burning of the Goetheanum, the founding of both the General Anthroposophical Society and the School of Michael, the laying of the Foundation Stone Meditation, the construction of the second Goetheanum, and ultimately the appearance of Christ in the Etheric and his proclaimer, the Maitreya Boddhisatva.  This was a time of fulfillment in terms of the first miracle. The first miracle falls under the sign of the 3rd Arcanum, The Empress. This image is strongly related to the Moon, and it is the Root Chakra, the Lunar Chakra that is especially related to the first miracle.

The phases of transition, preparation, and fulfillment continue to unfold in the same fashion.  The time period from 1932-1945 was again a time of transition; a time of hermeticism in terms of Anthroposophy, yet mysticism in terms of the work of Valentin Tomberg.  Anthroposophy became increasingly institutionalized in the wake of Steiner’s passing and the threat of World War II, reaching a kind of peak in April 1935 during the cataclysmic split in the society and resultant expulsion of many prominent members.  It had now established itself as a tradition in its own right.

On the other hand, for Valentin Tomberg this was a time of Mysticism.  His experience of the Etheric Christ occurred between 1932/33.  His writings from 1933 through 1943 display a remarkable depth of inner experience during this time period.  In October of 1938, however, after increasing friction with the Society, he withdrew his membership. By 1940, he had ceased his Anthroposophical work altogether; in 1943 he ceased his group esoteric work on the Lord’s Prayer; and in 1944 he began his work on law and jurisprudence.

The next time period in the rhythm of Christ’s descent through the sub-earthly spheres was from April 1, 1945 through February 10, 1957 (the Fluid Earth).  This was Tomberg’s time of preparation.  By the summer of 1945 he was officially a member of the Catholic Church.  He spent these years writing his works on jurisprudence (published in 1946 and 1947), entering ever more deeply into Catholicism, and privately cultivating what would in 2012 become the Grail Knight’s Practice:  a series of complex mantra distilling the entirety of his course on the Lord’s Prayer.

All of these separate pieces are woven into a magnificent tapestry in the next time period, from February 10, 1957 through December 21, 1968 (the Air Earth).  It was almost exactly during this time period (from Advent 1957 through May 1967) that Tomberg wrote his 22 Letter-Meditations on the Major Arcana of the Tarot. Once again it is a period of fulfillment, of accomplishing a deed of sacred magic (the second miracle).  This time period falls under the sign of the 6th Arcanum, The Lover, which is corresponds to the planet Venus.  Venus is the ruler of the Sacral Chakra, with which the second miracle is particularly related.

Christ’s passage through the Form Earth from December 21, 1968 through November 1, 1980 was again a time of transition.  During the first four years of this time, Tomberg wrote the meditations contained in the book Lazarus, Come Forth! He crossed the threshold on February 24, 1973.  Robert Powell first became aware of Anthroposophy and Valentin Tomberg between 1972-73.  He then spent the next 7 years working with Willi Sucher in the realm of astrosophy, translating Meditations on the Tarot into English, and training to be a eurythmist in Dornach.  It was in 1978 that he had a spiritual encounter with Rudolf Steiner, in which he was given the task of fleshing out the science of karma and reincarnation in astrosophical terms.

From 1980 through September 11, 1992, Christ passed through the Fruit Earth, and Robert Powell began the time of preparation for the third miracle. The gnosis that was the fruit of his mystical encounter with Rudolf Steiner in 1978 is contained in his three volumes on Hermetic Astrology, published between 1987 and 1991.  It was also during this time period that his teaching concerning the various rhythms of Christ’s bodies as well as that of the three teachers of the 20th century came to light (to both of which this article is indebted).

The third miracle occurred over the course of Christ’s passage through the Fire Earth, from 1992 through July 23, 2004.  The Sophia Foundation was founded on New Year’s Eve, 1994.  The School of Choreocosmos was founded in 2000.  A great variety of sacred practices, movements and ceremonies dedicated to Sophia and the Etheric Christ unfolded during this time period.  This time falls under the sign of the 9th Arcanum, The Hermit.  The Hermit is related to The Archer, Sagittarius, but is also clearly an image of Hermes Trismegistus.  Hermes is another name for Mercury, and it is the Mercury Chakra in the solar plexus that is related to the third miracle.

In the next section, we will look at the transition period recently passed through.  We will then cast our gaze imaginatively into the coming time, and see what guiding images can be offered through the perspective adopted in this article.

 

The Seven Miracles (Part 1)

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.

 

Eternal Israel

Eternal Israel and the Region of the Grail

In August of 2016, Robert Powell led a workshop centered around practices meant to enliven the Sephiroth Tree, the Tree of Life within the human being.  In a lecture during this workshop, he made mention of a little known piece of the story of the development of humanity.  He described how the first portion of the Earth to mineralize in Ancient Lemuria was the original Grail Stone, and that this Grail Stone formed where Jerusalem was later to be built.  This was Eden, where Adam and Eve, the first human beings to incarnate physically, had their origin.  This original Grail Stone followed the nation of Israel over the millennia.  It took its place as the foundation stone of the Temple of Solomon.  It now rests at the Mount of Olives, the original site of the Garden of Eden.

From an anthroposophical perspective, this is fascinating.  Looking back into cosmic prehistory, we see that from the Polarean epoch up through the end of the Hyperborean and the beginning of the Lemurian, the Earth goes through a gradual process of densification.  It begins as a body of pure, undifferentiated etheric/astral warmth.  By the time of the transition into ancient Lemuria, the Earth has become much denser.  At this point in time, Mars is extracted from the Earth, bringing about a rapid mineralization of the evolving world.

Up until this point, human beings did not experience birth and death.  They built up a physical body for themselves, one of a much more rarefied substance than our dense mineral bodies.  Inhabiting this physical form, they would build up from out of themselves the vessel for their next “incarnation.”  As Saturn, Sun, and Jupiter extracted themselves, the world became denser and this process became more difficult.  Some souls remained within the other planetary spheres, unable to incarnate in the denser materiality.

This process accelerated greatly when Mars was extracted.  It was a crisis point for humanity.  The first place to become completely mineralized with the extraction of Mars was the Grail Stone (or Foundation Stone) of Jerusalem.  Eventually, all but two human souls were too weak to penetrate this mineral substance to form a body.  These last two were Adam and Eve, John the Baptist and the Solomon Mary.  In a certain sense, one could say these were the last two human beings rather than the first two.  At the same time as this seeming end of humanity, the moon was extracted.  Lucifer made his entry into human astrality.  Knowledge of Good and Evil (moral relativity) was given to human beings at the expense of their lives (eating from the Tree of Knowledge leads to Death, the Wheel of Incarnations).  Sense perception and sexual reproduction began.  With the extraction of the Moon, the Earth was temporarily softened to the extent that souls from other planetary spheres could once again incarnate on Earth.

What is fascinating about this is the role Jerusalem plays.  While Israel has never been included in the train of “cultural epochs” named by Steiner and others (Indian, Persian, Egyptian, Greco-Roman, etc.) it seems to bookend the main act of the cosmic drama.  It is there at the very beginning of materiality, at the start of the Lemurian epoch, and remaining the center of activity until the Fall of Humanity.  It then recedes into the background in terms of cultural evolution until the time of Abraham.  For two thousand years after Abraham until the time of Christ, it once again becomes the most crucial scene of human and divine activity.  Israel and Jerusalem become the overarching culture around which and eventually into which the others center themselves.

At the time of Christ, the first two members of the Holy Family redeemed their karma, and accomplished a great mission on behalf of humanity:  making possible the advent of Christ and the Mystery of Golgotha.  Adam facilitated this through his incarnation as John the Baptist, facilitating the spiritual conception and birth of the Christ within Jesus.  It is clear, on the other hand, the manner in which Eve made possible the advent of Christ, as the mother of Jesus.  Each of them has taken on a new role since the time of Christ.  John’s incarnations prior to Christ (Phinehas, Elijah, John) vs those after Christ (St. Elisabeth, Raphael, Novalis) are strikingly different.  It is as though one task was finished and another begun.  Mary/Eve, on the other hand, seems to have taken on a much more Angelic role, becoming the Queen of Heaven at the time of Christ.

If we live into this picture of the main act of the cosmic drama, we can feel potently an incredible shift that occurred at that time.  The story from Creation and the Fall to Redemption through Christ is in a sense one act in the Cosmic Drama.  Despite manifold change of scenery, we could say that the main arena of activity was Jerusalem, particularly during the 2000 years leading up to Christ, but also at the very beginning during the Fall. The main characters, we could say, were Adam and Eve, resolving the crisis of the Fall through Christ.  Is this still the case?  Or have we turned the page to the next part of the Drama?  If so, who are the key players?  What is the main arena of activity?  What is the crisis and resolution?

As we consider these questions, let’s keep in mind the key significance of the fact that the life of Christ is the Turning Point in Time.  Is there a site, a region of the world, that almost immediately took on significance after Pentecost?  Was this region also a Grail Site?  Who were the two key figures in this Act of the Drama?

A few years after the Ascension, a group of Christ’s Apostles were arrested and put on a boat without sail, oar, or provision, more or less left to die.  Miraculously they arrived in Southern France. The two main figures in these events were Mary Magdalene and Lazarus-John, the reincarnated Cain and Abel – the younger two of the Primal Family.  However, these were not two human beings descending for the first time into matter, falling into temptation and sin.  No, the crisis that meets humanity since the time of Christ is not Redemption from the Fall, the low point in the path of descent, but rather the path of Reintegration.  The path of Reintegration is not only a problem for humanity, but for Nature, and even for Sub-Nature.  Yes, it is the crisis of how, once saved by the Deed of Christ, human beings can bear that Deed to all Creation, drawing it back up to the Spirit.  In Anthroposophical parlance, it is the question of Etherization of the material world.

Just as Jerusalem and Israel played a key role in the 2000 years leading up to the time of Christ, so in the past 2000 years since Christ, the region of southern France and western Switzerland has taken on a special significance.  It was the location of Magdalene and Lazarus’s missionary work in the 1st century; it was the location of the Parzival story in the turn of the 8th to the 9th century; in the 15th century, it was the region that produced the Tarot of Marseilles; in the 18th century, it was the region in which the Count de St Germaine and others resurrected and Christened the Hermetic Mysteries.  Most recently, it was the location of the razing of the first Goetheanum and the laying of the Foundation Stone of Love.

Just as with Israel, it may be that in an external sense, the Grail Region in France/Switzerland will seem to have little significance for many long periods of human history.  It is only one piece of the “cultural epoch” of our time, the European.  We know all to well that the scene of operations culturally will move ever eastward into the Slavonic and Russian nations.  Eventually America will close this period of human history.  But just as an “entrance” was created at the beginning of Lemuria, a point of materiality which later spread to the whole Earth, an “exit” has now been created.  The physical Grail Stone originated in Jerusalem; the Etheric Grail Stone, the first etherized portion of the Earth, is in the region of France and Switzerland.  This is the key point of access for the Etheric Christ and for the ascending Mother.  It is no coincidence that France has been a focus of many terrorist attacks at this time; it is no coincidence that CERN is located in Geneva; it is no coincidence that Spirits of Division constantly attack the spiritual center at Dornach.  But the deed has been done.  A sacrifice was made in the 1920’s by Rudolf Steiner, a sacrifice that planted the seed for the New Jerusalem, for Jupiter evolution – the Foundation Stone, a Seed of Love.

Just as Israel was the overarching center of activity, the heart of human evolution from the Fall to the Mystery of Golgotha, so will Grail Country play this role until the end of Earth evolution.  This is the center of Eternal Israel.

Two thousand years before Christ, the nomadic Abraham was led to found Israel.  The forces of the Jewish people were concentrated during this time in order to prepare for Christ.  As a reflection of this, the Grail Community concentrated itself in modern day France and Switzerland until now, two thousand years after Christ.  It is time for this community to become “nomadic;” for the seeds of Hermeticism and the Culture of the Grail to spread far and wide throughout the Earth.

Humanity is now experiencing the Second Fall.  We have not stolen from the Tree of Knowledge, with the assurance that “surely, you shall not Die.”  No, now we steal from the Tree of Life, with the assurance that “surely, you shall not become Evil.”  Just as Knowledge of Good and Evil brought about Death, now in our time the Knowledge of Life and Death (scientific knowledge) brings about Evil.  Modern man is convinced of the neutrality and overwhelming benefit to humanity of scientific and technological progress, the ultimate goal being to overcome the Death process.  The consequence of this, unnoticed by modern man, is pervasive Evil.

The invasion of Lucifer into the astral body resulted in the heavenly realm becoming hardened into dense materiality.  Now in our time, the invasion of Ahriman into the etheric body is resulting in the descent of Nature into Sub-Nature, the technological realm.  Our ether bodies are under constant stress and attack due to this influence.  The answer given by the spiritual world to this dilemma lies in what has been cultivated in France.  The Paths of the Tree of Life connect us with the Etheric Christ and with the Divine Mother in the depths; they show us the way to re-enliven the etheric body, and to redeem Nature from Sub-Nature.

The Tree of Life contains the Ten Sephiroth of the etheric body of the human being.  Knowledge of this Tree was brought by Moses from ancient Egypt, and guarded by the Hebrew people.  The Tree of Life could also be called the Tree of Lives; it bears a mysterious connection with the karma of the individual and humanity.  Moses, up until the modern age, was the Guardian of Karma.  One could say he was a representative of the Cherubim guarding the Tree of Life.

It is now Christ who is the Lord of Karma; Christ who is the Lord of the Tree of Life.  Moses, who incarnated as Rudolf Steiner, now guards the mysteries of the Tree of Knowledge (the 7 chakras, the 7 bodies, the 7 stages of evolution).  He has begun the process of redeeming Lucifer.  Cultivation of the Tree of Life has been passed on to Christian Rosenkreuz, who works hand in hand with Abraham, the Maitreya Boddhisatva.

Steiner once said that anthroposophy required a new language in order to flourish and be truly communicated.  The 22 Paths of the Tree of Life are connected with the Hebrew Alphabet traditionally.  Now we know that each of those letters is connected to one of the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot.  The work of Christian Rosenkreuz and the Maitreya has been to cultivate a deeper and deeper relationship with the Tarot (see for example, Meditations on the Tarot).  These are not just cards for divination; they are the alphabet for the new language of Anthroposophy.  They contain within them everything that came through Rudolf Steiner, and more.  It is only when we learn this alphabet, re-enlivening our etheric bodies, that we meet the Etheric Christ, the Lord of Karma.

The time of Abraham is now at hand.  He will teach us to speak the language of the Grail once we have learned the alphabet.  He will lead us out of abstract, univocal concepts, and return us to pictorial, multivocal concepts.  When we learn this new language, and speak with the Etheric Christ, we serve the Mother and redeem Nature:  we Etherize the Earth.

The time of Moses is over.  The Tree of Life is being unveiled.  Through Christ, knowledge of karma and reincarnation may now become the responsibility of each human being; it is no longer the task of Moses to be the judge, but Christ.  It is no longer Moses’s cross to bear, but Christian Rosenkreuz/Lazarus, who guides us at this time.

The Red Admiral

From our dear Dr. Dann…

Harris 1766 The Aurelian

The Whittlesey Red Admiral

 

“Oh! Miss Clarke ­– the butterfly!”

All the other girls had been quietly working at their desks on February 9, 1928, when the solitary Red Admiral had appeared in a corner of the classroom window, in the exact spot where both Miss Clarke and her pupil had seen it together the year before. This was the 17th year in a row that a Red Admiral butterfly had come to this corner of this window, of this particular Girls National School in Whittlesey, England – a modest Fenlands village about 90 miles north of London.

Three days later a letter came to Miss Clarke at her 95 Station Road home, from Mr. Charles Fort of 39A Marchmont Road, London, inquiring if the Red Admiral had yet appeared. Fort had first read about the faithful Whittlesey Red Admiral the previous spring; the London Daily Express reported on its March 2nd appearance that year, consistent with the previous 16 years, when it had typically arrived at the end of February or the first of March. He had written to Miss Clarke, who had verified the Express’s story – though she confessed she had not been present for every one of the 16 annual appearances. In reply to Fort’s second inquiry, she wrote:

As I am writing, the visitor is fluttering about the window, and seems quite lively. Last year’s visitor lived about a month after its appearance, and then we found it dead.

There is nothing else that I can tell you about our annual visitor, but really it does seem remarkable.

What made this perennial visitation of special note was not just the recurrence in such an exact and unlikely spot, but its unlikely timing, for in good years Red Admirals migrated north to the Fenlands in late April or May.

It seems equally worthy to note that Charles Fort, the indefatigable chronicler of all Prodigies and Wonders, wrote to Miss Clarke at all, much less on two occasions. He did not write to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to verify the report that their expedition in July 1927 had found copious quantities of manna draped upon the leaves of tamarisk trees. He neglected to investigate further the notice regarding the millions of mice that had manifested that summer in the fields of Kern County, California. These were but two mysteries among thousands that he had scribbled onto the one-and-a-half by two-and-a-half inch scraps of paper he used for notecards. From just such miniscule notes, he had already fledged The Book of the Damned (1919) and New Lands (1923), a pair of brilliantly witty critiques of contemporary natural science that doubled as invitations to muse on the possibilities of other worlds. These two tomes had been researched at the New York Public Library; for four years now he had been living in London, just a ten-minute walk from the British Museum, where he carried out his research in its library – the world’s largest.

Charles Fort was in 1927 the world’s premier diagnostician of Planet Earth’s infinite strangeness, gazing relentlessly into that “Super Sargasso Sea” he imagined hovering close at hand. He was interested in the extra-zoological fall from the sky of both vertebrates – fish, frogs, tadpoles, snakes – and invertebrates – periwinkles, worms, ants, aphids, bees, beetles, fireflies, hummingbird hawkmoths, ladybirds. Fort had catalogued and questioned them all, both the reports of their sudden and unprecedented appearances in particular places and their notable instances of scarcity. To date, however, his collection of insect enigmas had been strictly collective, plural, and populous, not singular, like the Whittlesey Red Admiral.

Singular, but multiple, since, like most of the world’s 28,000 species of butterfly the Red Admiral – Vanessa atalanta – lives out its entire life cycle in less than a year. The adult butterfly’s life span rarely goes beyond the month reported by Miss Clarke. Seventeen seasons would demand seventeen individual Red Admirals to have made the journey to Miss Clarke’s classroom window. How did they communicate – and then triangulate – this specific and altogether anonymous locale? Might they have, like the super-navigating hounds and felines of legend – sixth sense-scented their way to that window, to the delight of the girls and their teacher? Or was the expectation of delight the very signal that brought them, a pheromone of a very different color and taste than that imagined by orthodox science?

Gathering material in 1927 for his third manifesto, tentatively titled Skyward Ho!, Fort sought “the underlying oneness in all confusions,” by way of a simple polarity – continuity vs. discontinuity. The Red Admiral qualified as a conspicuous hybrid, “remarkable,” as Miss Clarke said, for both its continuity – its fidelity of appearance – and its “discontinuity” with all the world’s other Red Admirals, who, on February 9th (at least those at latitude 52 ½º North) were fast asleep, awaiting the warming Sun that would come after the spring equinox. In the vast profusion of preposterous, grotesque, and seemingly inexplicable incidents that made up Skyward Ho! (which, in keeping with the mercurial Mr. Fort, was also christened at various stages God and the Fishmonger, The Time Has Come!, and its eventual title – Lo!), the Whittlesey Red Admiral was easily overlooked by even the most careful reader.

A Barnumesque menagerie roamed through the 15 page-chapter in which Charles Fort had pinned the Whittlesey Red Admiral. Millions of African snails, Achatena fulica, suddenly appeared in a four-square-mile corner of Kalutara, Ceylon in 1910. For good measure, simultaneous with this unprecedented appearance (the snails had never been seen before in that area) there was an invasion of unusually large scale insects. In September 1929, a 31-inch-long alligator was killed in the Hackensack Meadows. A distinct biogeographical discontinuity, but matched with a chronological continuity, for the New York Sun had reported that 4 days later a 28-inch-long alligator was found in a small creek near Wolcott, New York – about 300 miles north of the meadowlands. Along with the Kern County mice explosion of 1927, Fort was aware that mice by the multitudes had also manifested in May 1832, in the fields of Inverness-shire, Scotland; according to the Magazine of Natural History the witness had compared the markings of these mice with ones pictured in books, but they did not match. The field guides contained no images of the speckled snakes that fell at Hawthorne, Massachusetts, and the venomous Egyptian adder that in 1920 was found in Gower Street, just a stone’s throw from the British Museum, was but one of three that showed up in as many days. Neither the butcher nor postman nor physician who dispatched them checked a field guide before killing the snakes. Over the next three weeks, continuity mixed promiscuously again with discontinuity, as adders appeared outside of the Roman Catholic Cathedral at Westminster, under a mat at Morpethmansions, and in a field in Willesden, North London.

Next there were eels and crayfish, drained ponds that filled with tench, and ditches into which spontaneously generated perch. Science in 1902 reported on a pair of squid caught in Lake Onondaga in western New York state; Fort failed to find convincing the Princeton University invertebrate paleontologist Prof. Arnold Ortman’s explanation that fishermen used squid for bait. Fort coined scientific-sounding neologisms for them all – “localized repetitions,” “persisting translator currents,” and simply “teleportations.” Stepwise in the direction of the Whittlesey Red Admiral, Fort persisted, offering as further evidence of discontinuity the periodic appearances and disappearances of Barbary apes at Gibraltar; a parakeet in a Scotland farm yard; and a shower of flesh and blood in Los Nietos Township, California. This last disgusting datum seems calculated for literary effect, set as it was cheek-to-jowl with the uniformed schoolgirls of Whittlesey and the dainty recurring Red Admiral.

Poltergeist-producing girls had long been a preoccupation of Fort’s, so it is not surprising that he sandwiched the Red Admiral between that long list of zoological oddities and an anthropological one, from France in 1842. On the last day of that year, two girls had been out picking up leaves near Clavaux when they saw stones falling around them with “uncanny slowness.” Returning with their parents, the two girls were suddenly seized and dragged “as if into a vortex.” Fortunately, the parents pulled them back. Struck by the odd calculus of this New Year’s Eve occurrence of the “taking” of girls for the “giving” of stones, Fort dubbed the phenomenon a “reciprocating current.” No such reciprocation had the world known when Manhattan socialite Dorothy Arnold disappeared while walking through Central Park on December 12th in 1910 – until Fort noticed the New York Sun report on December 13th that a swan had appeared upon the lake near the 79th Street entrance, Miss Arnold’s destination. Duly noted, this “now you see it!” prestidigitation took its place as the final word – for the moment – on 20th century teleportations of butterflies and girls.

 

* * *

 

Remembered as the decade of jazz and flappers and flivvers, the 1920s were also marked by episodes of spectral hauntings and cultural clashes that suggested that despite the best efforts of modern science – which Fort called “Exclusionism” or “Taboo” – numerous ghosts dwelled restlessly in the Rationalist machine of 20th century Western civilization. The most noticeable ghost went by the irresistible moniker of “Relativity,” and was the darling of newspaper reporters and novelists, who made much more hay of its supposedly world-shattering revelations than the physicists who created it could. Darwinism’s promise of putting an end to the age of miracles was at the moment seriously shaken by the ghost of neo-Lamarckism, as theories of the inheritance of acquired characteristics (attractive even to Darwin himself) proliferated. More unsettling were the ghosts that floated about outside the scientific realm. In the wake of World War I’s carnage, millions of grieving men and women found comfort in the chimeras of Spiritualist séances and automatic writing sessions. Cambridge and Columbia and Clark and dozens of other well-respected universities saw their boldest thinkers investigate mediums and magic; at just about the same moment as Fort was puzzling over the Red Admiral, J. B. Rhine invented parapsychology at Duke University. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published photographs of supposed fairies from Cottingley, and received front-page coverage. In 1926, in the wake of scores of reports of strange lights and alien visitations, Fort wrote to the New York Times from London to ask why the Martians have “not landed, say in Central Park, and had a big time of it – monstrous parade down Broadway, historic turn-out, eruptions of confetti from skyscrapers?” Instead of ridicule, Fort received a deluge of further reports.

At first glance, the Whittlesey Red Admiral would hardly seem such a ghost, and yet, there it is, an interruption in the fabric of normality that Fort felt as worthy of consideration as Percival Lowell’s peevishly migrating “planet” or the deaths coincident with the opening of the Tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amen, or the Halloween productions of modern Spiritualism. Set against such sensational spectres, the modest Red Admiral loses its lustre, and all who hear the tale can be excused for being incurious. Fort’s gift, in an age of home economics, Taylorism, and behaviorism was, like Barnum, to make the familiar strange. In the 1920s, this task would largely fall to the pop culture realm of horror and science fiction, to H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, Weird Tales and Amazing Stories. Fort never needed to make anything up; thousands of eyewitnesses the world over merely matter-of-factly spoke about what they had seen. As a pioneering phenomenologist, Fort singlehandedly tackled a century-plus (he drew the limit for his studies at 1800) reportage of weird and amazing factual un-natural history, and wrestled mightily with its implications, rather than sweeping it into the “cold case” dustbin of the inexplicable, or explain it away in the manner of the dogmatic scientists. The world is infinitely richer for his bold bricolage of the bizarre.

 

* * *

 

It is not insignificant that that London Express item named the butterfly, and that Fort repeated it. Elsewhere in his encyclopedia of animal anomalies, there are episodes of “moths” and “butterflies,” but no specific names are given. Whether this is an artifact of the witnesses’ or the journalists’ uncertainty remains an open question. One of the charming discoveries one makes when encountering Fort’s oeuvre is just how well acquainted people outside London and New York were with the natural world. In 1927, most people still lived largely outside, where they had unfettered opportunity to observe and ponder the world’s daily revelations underfoot and in the open sky. But this was changing, and increasingly the metropolitans regarded the reports from the far-flung field as light entertainment rather than serious science. Editors immediately dispatched reporters to interview Einstein and Eddington; farmers and fishermen who saw stuff falling from the sky would have to wait.

The gap opening up between rural acumen and urban ignorance of natural history did not go unnoticed by professional natural scientists. The initial decades of the 20th century saw the enthusiastic embrace of “nature study” – a curriculum dedicated to acquainting street urchins and middle-class suburban kids alike to the wonders of the natural world. As handy and ubiquitous miniatures suited to the small worlds of children, insects were the ideal subjects of study, and these were the decades that turned Luna moths and Monarchs and tent caterpillars into Lilliputian pop stars.

The nature study industry was a distinctly northern hemisphere enterprise, centered in London, New York, Boston, and Chicago – all places where the Red Admiral was a familiar harbinger of spring, denizen of summer, and disappearing act in fall. The principal questions about Red Admiral natural history centered on its fluctuating population biology, and whether it was principally a long-distance migrant like the Monarch or a hibernator, like a few other familiar northern Nymphalid butterflies – the Comma, Peacock, Large and Small Tortoiseshell, and Painted Lady – since both patterns occurred in the species.

The Red Admiral was circumpolar, as ubiquitous as the stinging nettle plants upon which its caterpillars fed. It was cosmopolitan, not just in the technical biogeographic sense of widespread distribution, but its habits guaranteed that it showed up in a variety of habitats – including urban ones. It was conspicuous, its scarlet bands arcing across black backgrounds making it instantly recognizable, even at a distance. It was relatively large and long-lived as temperate region butterflies go, and its populations fluctuated dramatically enough that people noticed their abundance in good years and scarcity in bad ones. Most important of all, the Red Admiral was “friendly,” frequently alighting on shirtsleeves and skin. Sometimes they seemed to seek humans out in preference to nectar-laden blossoms.

As early as 1833, pioneer naturalist and polymath Frederick Corbin Lukis, of the Isle of Guernsey, struck by the “familiar disposition” of Vanessa atalanta, had noticed this trait, even suggesting that this singularly amiable butterfly might some day be tamed. Lukis described how, coming upon a horde of Red Admirals feasting on the juice of ripe green gage plums in an orchard, he coaxed one onto his finger:

I next applied a feather in the same way, smoothed its soft plumes, and continued this operation for some time, without alarm or fear being manifested. The next day I visited the tree again, and felt much pleased to find the same individuals at work. A greater intimacy now ensued between us; and I was enabled to exhibit these familiar feats before several friends, who smiled at hearing I had tame butterflies in my garden.

 On one “calm sultry day, at noon, the best time for this amusement,” Lukis took a familiar Red Admiral off a flower, placed it on his face, and it walked over to his mouth and inserted its tongue between his lips. Though he then flew off, he kept returning to Lukis’s face or clothes. He made a study of the other common butterflies – Painted Ladies, Large and Small Tortoiseshells, but Vanessa atalanta easily proved the most “docile.” The great British Aurelian Edward Newman was clearly partial to Vanessa atalanta; the introduction to his Illustrated History of British Butterflies (1871) was headed by drawings of the four stages of the Red Admiral’s life history. He noted that atalanta “occasionally departs so far from the ordinary habits of butterflies as to have been detected wandering about by night.”

Newman placed Vanessa atalanta squarely in the group of ten British butterflies that hibernated “in the perfect state,” that is, as imagos – winged adults. “Some hide in barns, stables, churches, or outhouses, always crawling up among the beams or rafters; they especially delight in pig styes,” he reported. Newman complained of the observant “country gentlemen” with “ready pen” who every year would write to their local paper of their great discovery of a mid-winter butterfly, since all these hibernating butterflies could regularly be found to crawl out of their hiding places on warm winter days. The so-called “January thaw” of New England, wrote artist-naturalist William Hamilton Gibson, come as it might in December or February, could always be counted upon to produce members of the familiar “angle-wing” group – the Comma, Tortoiseshells, Painted Lady, and the Red Admiral. Hundreds might be found hanging in a crevice between the boards of a shed; they fell to the earth like bark scales or old shingles when dislodged. Gibson even commented that “any one of these angle-wing butterflies may be kept in domestication through the winter months, becoming very tame and familiar.” American lepidopterist Samuel H. Scudder in 1881 declared that the Red Admiral “hibernates in both countries alike” in the imago state.

Charles Fort’s natural history knowledge in 1927 was rather thin. Growing up in Albany in the 1880s, he had caught the typical schoolboy collecting bug, and kept a small cabinet of minerals, stuffed birds and eggs, even small formaldehyde-filled bottles containing the sort of critters that he would later chronicle as falling from the sky. Moving to Brooklyn at age 18 in 1892 to take a job at the Brooklyn World, he left his naturalist days behind. In confronting the mystery of the Whittlesey Red Admiral, he lacked even the most rudimentary life history and behavior knowledge of this admittedly common creature. When, in the winter of 1929, Charles Fort wrote his third letter to Miss Clarke, he had not studied up on Red Admiral natural history. He assumed each of the animals which came to that window in the Whittlesey school to be sharp “discontinuities,” who by some mysterious process communicated across the generations to find that spot.

Possessed, ourselves, of just the barest bit of natural historical knowledge of Vanessa atalanta, we may find we are unsympathetically disposed towards Charles Fort’s choice of the Whittlesey Red Admiral as in any way remarkable. This species of butterfly above all others is widely known to seek human company, and in its imago state, even at northerly locations, it is regularly reported to awake in winter and fly about. Where, then, is the mystery?

 

* * *

 

A couple of days after coming upon Fort’s account of the Whittlesey Red Admiral, I stumbled upon an article by Glastonbury wizard Stanley Messenger, entitled “Butterflies: Their Unrecognized Paranormality.” An amateur lepidopterist for most of his then (in 2000) 83 years, Messenger offered some unsolved mysteries from a lifetime of observations. He was convinced that many species of butterfly had such an intense presence that it suggested intention – even a desire to communicate. It almost seemed to him that different species represented different aspects of human temperament. His reflections were neither anthropomorphic nor sentimental, but real imaginative pictures that felt worthy of the magnificent picturing that characterizes the butterfly’s wings.

At the end of this article, Stanley Messenger makes an astonishing statement: The Red Admirable recognizes and settles on the awakened human heart chakra.

Fort never heard back from Miss Clarke in 1929. “Maybe a third letter was considered too much of a correspondence with somebody who had not been properly introduced,” he wrote. “Anyway, people do not like to go upon record, in such matters.”

The Whittlesey Girls National School was demolished in the 1950s. Stanley Messenger died in 2012, leaving behind no trace of field notes or further reflections on the relationship of the Red Admiral to the chakra of the human heart.

It is time to go on record.

 

 1: The Whittlesey Red Admiral

In early February of 1928, in the corner of a classroom of a school in Whittlesey, in the English Fenlands north of London, for the 17th year in a row, a Red Admiral butterfly appears, conspicuously out of season. The event draws the attention of Charles Fort, chronicler extraordinaire of all things anomalous, and becomes a small footnote in his four-volume savage critique of contemporary natural science. The Whittlesey Red Admiral is but one of many 1920s “ghosts in the machine” – phenomena which refuse to surrender to the explanations of materialist science – as modernity sets in.

Though Fort was no lepidopterist, and had not the skills nor the inclination to inquire further into the natural history of Vanessa atalanta, there is in Great Britain a long and august history of observation of the Red Admiral. In 1833, pioneer naturalist and polymath Frederick Corbin Lukis, of the Isle of Guernsey, struck by the “familiar disposition” of Vanessa atalanta, suggests that this singularly friendly butterfly might someday be tamed. In the 1920s, despite a century of field observation, there are other mysteries about the Red Admiral’s habits and behavior, including whether it is a long-distance migrant, like the Monarch, or perhaps an occasional hibernator.

In the midst of a fruitless search for information about Miss Clarke, the Whittlesey Girls School, and any extant local lore of the Whittlesey Red Admiral, the author stumbles on Glastonbury wizard Stanley Messenger’s declaration that Vanessa atalanta “alights upon the awakened heart chakra.” Can there truly be some as yet undescribed invisible relationship between the Red Admiral and the human heart?

 

2: The Mneme: “Universal, Plasmatic Memory”

In 1927, despite the death blow dealt to the theory of the inheritance of acquired characteristics by the suicide in the wake of accusations of scientific fraud of Austrian experimental zoologist (and composer) Paul Kammerer, the nature, action, and extent of some elusive “universal, plasmatic memory” is an enormous question for biologists and laymen alike. Kammerer’s lectures, both in Europe and in the United States, excited widespread notice and excitement, since they seemed to point both to the limits of natural selection as an explanation for evolutionary change, and to the possibilities of a program of positive eugenics, where social progress could be encouraged through ameliorating the environment rather than limiting reproduction of the unfit.

Though renowned for his experiments with the spadefoot toad and various salamanders, Kammerer, a gifted and sensitive keeper of animals as well as pioneer experimentalist, began his research at the Prater Vivarium on the inheritance of biological characteristics with the Small Tortoiseshell, Vanessa urticae, the Red Admiral’s closest relation. Applying British biologist Richard Semon’s Bergsonian concept of the “mneme” – hereditary memory – in new and daring ways, Kammerer seemed at the forefront of an entirely new biology.

Long forgotten, due to Kammerer’s dramatic and tragic suicide (and the seizure by his critics – mostly dogmatic proponents of natural selection – upon this event as the certain death knell of neo-Lamarckism), is Das Gesetz der Serie (1919), his work on the “law of the series.” Given to a kind of borderline mania in his attention to daily events, Kammerer had for decades kept detailed notes about coincidences of events, names, numbers, people, and other phenomena. Antedating Carl Jung’s theory of “synchronicity,” Kammerer’s law of the series delved into the very sorts of spectral, liminal events that so fascinated Charles Fort, and reveal much about the nature of his speculations about the function and mechanisms of biological memory – in butterflies, salamanders, spadefoot toads – and, by extension, man.

 

3: Speak, Memory

“Out of nowhere came a Red Admiral butterfly. . .” wrote Vladimir Nabokov, in his novel King, Queen, Knave, which he was composing in Berlin in 1927. Though a gifted amateur lepidopterist and close observer of butterflies who had published his first paper in The Entomologist at age 21, while studying at Cambridge University, Nabokov upon graduation dedicated himself to a literary career, and both butterflies (including his favorite the Red Admiral) and memory play a conspicuous role in his third novel.

Through his passion for and intense empirical examination of butterflies, Nabokov had become a trenchant critic of natural selection, invoked at large by scientists to explain mimicry, which was so spectacularly displayed in the Lepidoptera. Running throughout both Nabokov’s biological studies and his novels are the twin threads of mimicry and memory, presenting an insoluble mystery. Nabokov cannily disguised within his work a mystery about his gifts of visual memory and literary creativity that point toward another dimension of the Red Admiral mystery – the limits of vision for penetrating beyond the physical world. Nabokov’s synaesthetic and eidetic perception suggested to Nabokov that he might use his sensory gifts to penetrate beyond the physical to the spiritual world.

 

4: The Paranormality of the Butterfly

Taking up the challenge of Stanley Messenger’s declaration that the Red Admiral “alights upon the awakened heart chakra,” the author ponders whether this creature has some special affinity for human beings, particularly their hearts. Employing phenomenological methods, he investigates the ecology and biogeography of the Red Admiral, focusing on the host plant for the caterpillar – Urtica dioicae, Stinging Nettle, whose medicinal properties, leaf shape, and overall form strongly suggest that it is a “heart” organism. He also “discovers” that there is partially traced upon the wings of the Red Admiral the figure of the heart.

At the Newfoundland Insectarium, founder and director Lloyd Hollett recounts his “threshold” experiences with the Red Admiral, and the many other tales that he heard from others, of both the Red Admiral and other butterflies’ sudden and mysterious appearance at moments of bereavement for lost loved ones.  Thousands of individuals have told such tales in online forums, once again suggesting some continuity with the mystery of the Whittlesey Red Admiral.

 

5: The Cosmic Embodiment of Memory

In Dornach, Switzerland, in the autumn of 1923, Rudolf Steiner gave a series of six lectures on the nature of the butterfly that open with a novel observation about the symmetry of plant and butterfly metamorphosis, and then unfold a dazzling panorama of cosmic evolution, in which the butterfly is intimately involved with the destiny of the earth and humanity. Steiner asserts that the butterfly’s egg is a picture of human thinking and that the caterpillar, cocoon, and imago stages of the metamorphic series are pictures of the process of memory arising from perceptions. He then says that the butterfly wing is the most spiritualized substance upon the earth, and that butterflies continually restore spiritualized matter to the Earth’s cosmic environment, such that it forms an actual corona around the planet that, when carried into cosmic space by “fire-spirits” (or “salamanders,” the elemental beings of the Fire element), are able to provide a picture of Earth to Archangels. Even more provocatively, Rudolf Steiner – who always claimed that he would not utter a single fact that he had not verified repeatedly through his spiritual research – stated that the “butterfly corona” around the earth is what calls the disincarnate human soul back into earthly existence after its sojourn in the spiritual world.

This heterodox understanding is largely dependent upon Steiner’s unparalleled clairvoyance; his statements are discussed in light of the evidence that is offered by the physical senses.

 

6: The Heart is Not a Pump

Though this suite of lectures on the butterfly was given in Dornach, the opening lectures of the series were presented in Vienna, just a couple of weeks earlier, over the course of the Michaelmas season. Steiner gave two lectures that were open to the general public, the first on Michaelmas eve, September 28th. Without naming the Prater Vivarium or the Vienna Circle, the lecture was a powerful indictment of the radical abstractness of contemporary science, and called for a new way of studying nature, through the heart. In his private lectures to members of the Anthroposophical Society, Steiner elaborated upon this “new nature study.” Without explicitly drawing the link to his butterfly lectures, Steiner was laying down a potential research program for the future, to explore how the future fifth chamber of the heart will become an organ of perception that can solve such mysteries as the Red Admiral’s affinity for the human being.

 

7: Conclusion: The New Nature Study

In his 1923 Vienna lectures, Rudolf Steiner predicted that if a new heart-centered relationship with Nature did not develop in the 20th century, the elemental beings standing behind all natural phenomena would fall prey to “the Dragon.” Even the most cursory survey of contemporary natural scientific practice and pedagogy – in which nanotechnology, genetic engineering, and artificial intelligence are all considered “cutting edge,” and where most practicing natural scientists lack the most elementary natural history knowledge – reveals that Steiner was absolutely correct.

The recognition and elaboration of the cosmic commensalism between the butterfly and the human heart is the first lesson of a New Nature Study, offering a renewed spiritual cognition of the natural world.

 

 

 

 

The Mystery of Evil Pt. 5: The Bottomless Pit

We can also look at JADE from a developmental perspective. In Meditations on the Tarot, the anonymous author states that “Antichrist, the ideal of biological and historical evolution without grace, is not an individuality or entity created by God, but rather the egregore or phantom generated through the biological and historical evolution opened up by the serpent, who is the author and master of biological and historical evolution that science studies and teaches.  The antichrist is the ultimate product of this evolution without grace and not an entity created by God—the act of divine creation being always, without exception, an act of grace.  He is therefore an egregore, an artificial being who owes his existence to collective generation from below.

If we look closely at Robert Powell’s description of Christ’s descent through the subearthly realms throughout the end of the 20th and the start of the 21st century, he points to certain technological developments occurring at each transition into a new subearthly sphere (the atomic bomb, satellites, space travel, nuclear defense, the internet, etc). I don’t think these are chosen randomly—they actually describe a progression, the development of a particular being that culminates with AI. In a certain sense, we have built another “Tower of Babel,” although with an important difference:  the Tower of Babel was constructed with the aim of returning to the gods through human effort. This is, conversely, humanity’s attempt to escape from the gods; essentially, the opposite of a Tower of Babel—a Bottomless Pit, exactly the description used in the Book of Revelation.

The Tower of Babel was brought about through the capacity of human beings to speak the primal tongue: a tongue understood by all people, which carried within it the force to affect Nature. This force was misused; Lucifer was brought to the aid of the guiding spiritual powers by dividing up the primal tongue into many tongues and many nations, thereby taking from speech its destructive power. While human beings found themselves divided in terms of speech, the power of Christ offered them a place where they could meet: the universality of the conceptual life. Regardless of what language it was dressed in, the Truth of the conceptual life could be understood among all humanity. This was only gradually and partially discovered, as tribal and national wars have been a theme of human history.

How is the Bottomless Pit coming about? Not from the universality of primal language, but from the universality of Reason. It is the end result of a process stemming from rational, materialistic, sense-bound intellect—the dried up residue of the universal conceptual life. The thinking process emulated by and embedded into JADE is predicated on this rational mode of thinking, taken to a superhuman level, but nonetheless existing in one paradigm of thought life.

How can the spiritual powers come to our aid in our time? I believe they already have begun to do so. Rather than language being separated, it is the conceptual life that has begun to divide: we are no longer divided by nation, but by ideology and developmental disposition. These are but the beginning of a greater shattering in the conceptual life of man. Increasingly, one will not be able to discover the Truth through dialogue with another—each will remain speaking in his own “conceptual language,” unless he can become “multilingual.” The phrase used by Tomberg in Meditiations on the Tarot is “multivocal concepts” versus “univocal concepts.” This is discussed explicitly in the fourth letter, The Emperor. It is our task as Hermeticists to become linguists of the conceptual by learning to think in “arcana,” symbols bearing a whole spectrum of conceptual meanings, but which are fundamentally moral activities engaged in and with by the soul.

How else can we go about doing this? By harnessing the new gift of the grace of Christ—the power of the Good. When we can develop true tolerance for the other person; when we can go so far in our empathy for the other that they are embodied in us, and us in them; when we can truly view the world from their perspective, which may be radically different from our own, then we begin to be multilingual in our conceptual life. This is the path we will take until we will be able to “speak the Good” into existence. Our words will no longer compel by nature of the concept embedded in them, but through the Good, the experiencing of the other being expressed through them.

In the sixth epoch, it may no longer be a universally accepted fact that 2+2=4; but the Good, the moral will be universally agreed upon. What has only just begun to show itself, on the one side through radical “close-minded” ideologies, and on the other through developmental “disabilities” such as the autistic spectrum, will only become more and more pervasive. For all intents and purposes, each and every human being will be radical, will have “special needs” in the far future. Unless we can redeem Lucifer’s influence in the realm of thinking with the force of Christ, of the Good, the force of tolerance, empathy, and intuition (not to mention “Arcana”), the War of All against All will come all the more quickly.

The presence of the “radical” and the “special needs” are actually our saving grace against the advent of AI. How can a device that is predicated on rational thought, on the ability to predict activity based on patterns, begin to approach those with special needs? I have personal experience of many who simply cannot be understood through the rational mind; they can only be embodied, understood through making the attempt to become them—and then one’s words, regardless of their intellectual content bear a force that has a positive effect on these individuals. In the face of those with special needs, AI is powerless. This is why the radical, and those with developmental differences, have rigorously been discarded by fascist regimes. But the situation will become pervasive. This is one of the ways the second Tower of Babel will be toppled: through the nonsensical element in the human being becoming the norm rather than the pathology. Our goal as Hermeticists, as “bringers of the Good through the Word,” is to intuitively understand the other; to become linguists of concepts through “picture-thinking”; to be able to speak to anyone where they actually exist and not where we do. Only then can we begin to “speak the Good,” and truly meet the forces emanating from the Bottomless Pit. As Karl Koenig says, we must digest the leading images of the archetypes, and through their activity in us, silently shepherd those around us. Indeed, the path of the Maitreya is the path of a Shepherd.

Overall, my picture is that humanity will enter a period of semi-manufactured “impending doom” over the next few years, only to be “rescued” by a technology that does all the thinking for them. We will be presented with a false choice between order and chaos. In reality, the choice is between mechanized peace on the one hand, and two distinct types of chaos on the other.  The chaos, left to unfold on its own, could be simply that:  that which the Asuras bring, utter destruction.  That chaos, however, is also the soil in which the Christ force can be planted to become true Life. Very likely, many will choose technological order.  However, at the end of the 40 Days in the Wilderness, at Christ’s meeting with the Mother in the 2040’s, this technology will fail, as all technology that supposedly “makes life easier” does in the end. By this point, most of humanity will have forgotten how to be human, how to be creative, how to function organically in social groups. Then those of us who have truly cultivated communities of the Etheric Christ, communities that work in concert with spiritual beings, will have an enormous task present itself to us—rescuing the “lost sheep” who have succumbed to the numbing influence of overwhelming technology. Most likely, the “persecution” awaiting those who align with the Etheric Christ is one of marginalization by default—if we separate ourselves from a culture run by technology, it will be almost impossible to live but by the grace of the hierarchies. However, in thirty years, it will be up to us to stretch out a healing hand to those who are attempting to climb out of the Bottomless Pit.

It seems that the natural course is for Ahriman to be overtaken by Sorath:  the complete mechanization and de-spiritualization of humanity and the earth.  Lucifer, if he is unredeemed, devolves into complete destruction through the Asuras.  If Lucifer is redeemed by Christ, however—if he is filled and permeated with the Good—then we have the chance to wrest evolution away from the Asuric and Sorathic impulses that will become every stronger after the confrontation with Ahriman.

A friend pointed out that all sense organs began as wounds.  What does this imply in terms of the “sensory apparatus” of mass surveillance?  It is a massive wound on Mother Earth. This wound is the crucifixion of the Etheric Christ.  But just as Christ’s wounds reestablished the lost connection between humanity and the hierarchies (all the way up to the Father), so the Crucifixion of the Earth will lead to a resurrection, reconnecting us with the elemental beings (all the way down to the Mother).  It is this force that will overturn the tables of technology; it is the advent of such a time period that we will turn to in the section “Rosicrucian Impulse.”  There we will find further tools available to us to come to the aid of the Good and transform Evil.

Representative of Humanity

During my visit to Dornach, I had the good fortune to spend one of my workshops contemplating the statue of the Representative of Humanity. We were tasked with allowing the statue to tell us something that we could take back to our communities. After some initial skepticism as to whether this was possible, I found myself dialoguing with a statue (something I had never done before). I would like to briefly share some of the observations I gleaned from this conversation, which hopefully are applicable to our various situations and dilemmas in community life.

Seeing the statue in person allowed for an experience of movement within the figures, which previously had appeared static, whenever I had seen a picture of them. I was struck primarily by three elements. First, there is a figure in the top left corner, who seems to hover above with a wry half-smile, looking as though she has always been there watching over the events below. Next, there are the four figures traditionally described as Lucifer and Ahriman. For the first time, I perceived them as revolving in a vortex of sorts, as though they were one being moving through four different states, up and down, around and around. Finally, the central figure; so often I have looked at this figure and wondered why the hands are shaped the peculiar way that they are. Why partially clenched? Why two fingers separated out? In person, I had a strong experience that the figure was emerging from the background of the statue, possibly preparing to scale a steep hill, a look of severe determination on his face.

Where does this leave us as social therapists and community members? The first figure became an image for me of our struggle with tradition (“that’s the way we’ve always done it”), always hovering above our work, hopefully like a guarding angel. The cycle of Lucifer/Ahriman shows our struggle with the day to day concerns, the shifting sand which swamps us so easily and distracts us from our true task. Lucifer and Ahriman are stuck going up and down and left and right, from control to failure to accusation, over and over again. The central figure shows the emergence of the new. His expression is so complex; he looks as though he is ready to change it to meet any situation. He is certainly determined, and the only figure moving beyond the paradigm, moving forward.

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I was reminded of something Bodo von Plato talked about in his lecture that week. He mentioned that the soul mediates between what is eternal and what is changing. The statue made me realize that he had either missed or implied a third element, possibly the element that only the human soul can bring about: that which has never been, that which is new. I think this is the image we could always draw strength from as social therapists. What we are looking for as solutions to our problems do not yet exist; that which has always been (tradition) and that which is always changing will not supply us with what the future is asking for. The more we are ready at each moment to meet what is coming toward us as something emerging, something always new, the more effective we will be in the work we are taking on.