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.

Next article: https://treehouse.live/2016/11/01/eternal-israel/

Previous article: https://treehouse.live/2016/05/24/the-cosmic-communion-of-fish-pt-1/

 

 

 

The Cosmic Communion of Fish

The Rhythm of the Grail Stream and the New Jerusalem

At the instant the angel shot down to the tomb and the earth quaked, I saw the risen Lord appearing to his blessed Mother on Mount Calvary. He was transcendently beautiful and glorious, his manner full of earnestness. His garment, which was like a white mantle thrown about his limbs, floated in the breeze behind him as he walked. It glistened blue and white, like smoke curling in the sunshine. His wounds were very large and sparkling; in those of his hands, one could easily insert a finger. The lips of the wounds formed the sides of an equilateral triangle which met, as it were, in the center of a circle, and from the palm of the hand shot rays of light toward the fingers. – Anne Catherine Emmerich

I want to begin by explicitly stating that this is the product of what were to begin with vague intuitions of mine that were gradually sharpened by investigation. I am not clairvoyant; take everything I say here with a grain of salt. What is written is for me true in the sense that “what is fruitful is true;” it provides fuel for my fire, so to speak. If it does not do so for you, pay it no heed.  What is written is meant to be the counterpart to the series on “The Mystery of Evil.” It is offered as a “ferment” of sorts to aid in the active aligning with the Good, with the Etheric Christ in our time.

The following was in no small part inspired by Claudia McLaren Lainson. I feel we are all indebted to her work The Circle of Twelve (see Links). It is a work in the spirit of the Beings who gathered up the shed blood of Christ during the Passion and restored it to the body in the tomb. What follows is meant to complement what she has so deftly put together; in fact, reading her book crystallized many of these thoughts for me.

I would also like to acknowledge that what I’ve written is inspired by the writings of Robert Powell on the various rhythms of the Bodies of Christ, and their relationships to planetary and cosmic rhythms.

Around Easter 2014, I read the lecture series Inner Development by Valentin Tomberg for the first time. The last lecture in particular resonated with me:  the picture of Steiner’s biography and the development of the being of Anthroposophia in association with the stages of the Passion rang so true. I was left with a feeling of great sadness for the state of the Anthroposophical Movement in the 1930s, yet of great hope for what the near future could hold in terms of Anthroposophy’s Resurrection.

About six months after reading this lecture, I went to Dornach for the Social Therapy Conference. I signed up for some workshops while I was there, one of which consisted of merely observing and attempting to dialogue with the Representative of Humanity. Part of what struck me as I “spoke with” the statue was that the forms of the first two Goetheanums are hidden in plain sight within the statue: Lucifer the gestalt of the first building, Ahriman the gestalt of the second. I began to wonder if the Christ represented a third building. Then the thought struck me so heavily:  the first Goetheanum was congruent with Crucifixion stage of Anthroposophia, while the second Goetheanum was congruent with her Entombment. Possibly a third building would coincide with her Resurrection?

Much more could be said in terms of the metamorphosis from the first to the second Goetheanums and what this reveals as inspiration for future forms, but that will have to be left for another time. Later as I was perusing a book on the artistic impulse of Anthroposophy, the thought that had struck me developed further: I wondered if the architectural impulse of Anthroposophia was the outer manifestation of the stages of the Passion through which she was passing.

I investigated this further for a time and found the following:

The Washing of the Feet expresses itself particularly in the early part of Steiner’s life up until the 1907 Theosophical Congress, in the design of which the first steps taken by Steiner toward the new architecture were taken. Up until that time, Steiner’s work had been at the service of his predecessors:  Goethe, Schroer, Nietzsche, Blavatsky.  It was in 1907 that Steiner’s work began to go beyond the Washing of the Feet and into the realm of the Scourging. This entailed being a center between East and West—attempting to unite the Eastern Theosophical stream with the Western Rosicrucian stream in something higher, and suffering the blows from right and left that resulted.

The next step in architecture was the laying of the foundation stone of the Malsch building in April 1909. This was concurrent with a further phase in Steiner’s work: around the same time, he gave his lectures on “The Spiritual Bells of Easter,” in which he first began to explicitly announce the coming of the Etheric Christ and the Maitreya as His proclaimer. This was the Crowning with Thorns. Steiner was given special knowledge, a particular message:  he had to make known the advent of both of these events: the return of Christ in the Etheric and the coming of His proclaimer. He did so without “advancing in agression or retreating in fear,” as Tomberg would put it, in response to the increasing attacks and defamation on the part of the Theosophical Society leadership.

Next was the opening of the Stuttgart building in October, 1911. It was at exactly the same time that meetings began to take place to separate out the German branch of the Theosophical Society to form what would become the Anthroposophical Society. This was the Bearing of the Cross—Steiner began to bear the cross of a specific Karmic group; a few years later he would also bear the cross of Europe, as the sole maintainer of the connection with the spiritual world over the course of World War I.

As work on the first Goetheanum began, especially in 1916 with the commencement of the work on the Representative of Humanity, Steiner and Anthroposophy entered another phase. This was the time in which the Threefold Social Organism developed within Steiner’s teaching; out of this many initiatives began to spring up. However, Steiner relied on the will of his karmic group for these initiatives to take root and flourish; in other words, he was in the stage of Crucifixion. His will was bound to the will of the Society; by 1924, the result of this was clear in Steiner’s decision to make himself the head of a fixed organization, the General Anthroposophical Society. The formation of this Society was related to the final breath of the Christ, the descent of his Spirit into the depths, and the preparing of the body for burial. The Foundation Stone Meditation was the stream of blood and water pouring from the wound in Christ’s side, etherizing the Earth and transforming her etheric and astral auras. The paralyzed will of the Society became his paralysis, and eventually his death.

The preparation for burial continued until Michaelmas 1928, with the opening of the second Goetheanum, an almost literal tomb—so began the stage of the Entombment. Since 1928 the Body of Anthroposophy has laid entombed in the Goetheanum, while the Spirit of Anthroposophy has been rescuing the Dead and the Mother in the depths, as did the Body and Spirit of Christ 2000 years ago.

In the next section, we will qualify these stages further and investigate whether there is a correspondence between these stages and a particular cosmic rhythm, a “sign in the heavens.”

First a recap…

Briefly, we have the following correspondences (with timing based on the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich):

8:15 AM — The Scourging — May 1907 Theosophical Congress

9:00 AM — Crowning with Thorns — April 1909 Malsch Foundation Stone

10:00 AM — Bearing of the cross — October 1911 Stuttgart Building

12:00 PM — Crucifixion — 1913-1924 Statue and First Goetheanum

Sunset — Entombment — 1928 Second Gotheanum

When we place the timing of the unfolding of Anthroposophia in relation to the timing of the actual stages of the Passion, a specific rhythm shows itself. Every hour in the life of Christ plays itself out in about 2.5 years (the actual number is 2.48375) of the development of Anthroposophy. This is related to the rhythm of the Great Conjunction.

About every 19.87 years, Saturn and Jupiter join together in the heavens. Over the course of three conjunctions (or “sets” of conjunctions in three different signs, as the case may be), they form a triangle in the circle of the Zodiac: the exact shape of the nail wounds of Christ, according to Anne Catherine Emmerich. The length of time for the conjunctions to occur in three different signs and form this triangle is approximately 59.61 years: this represents for the Grail Stream of Anthroposophia one day in the life of Christ. Hence, each hour of the life of Christ is about 2.5 years (59.61 divided by 24) of the development of Anthroposophy.

The Great Conjunction was the light that guided the Magi to the Solomon Jesus child. At that point in time, the conjunction took place in Pisces, the sign of the Fish. According to Robert Powell in Hermetic Astrology Vol I, in approximately 2400 years (4443 AD) there will again be a conjunction in Pisces, at which point the Maitreya will attain to Buddhahood. This has been part of my motivation for calling this rhythm the Cosmic Communion of Fish. The other reason I will go into later.

The great conjunction in November of 1901 was, for what we could call the Grail Stream, six in the morning on Good Friday. The 1907 Theosophical Congress coincides with the Scourging at about 8:15; the laying of the foundation stone of the Malsch Buidling in 1909 with the Crowning with Thorns at 9 o’clock; the opening of the Stuttgart building in 1911 with the Bearing of the Cross at 10 o’clock; the work on the first Goetheanum and the Statue in 1916 with the Crucifixion around noontime; the opening of the second Goetheanum in 1928 with the Entombment at day’s end on Good Friday.

We can even see correspondences between Steiner’s early scientific/philosophical work, and Christ being taken to the High Priest and Herod after his betrayal and arrest. His university years correspond to the Garden of Gethsemane; the 1880’s, during which he edited Goethe’s scientific works, correspond to the betrayal, arrest and appearance before the High Priests; his philosophical Weimar years correspond to the appearance before Herod; his taking on the leadership of the German branch of the Theosophical Society the appearance before Pontius Pilate.

We could compare the Last Supper and Washing of the Feet to his pre-University years, during which he yearned to become a priest. This was a yearning that, as a matter of destiny, he gave up in order to finish the work of his teacher, Schroer. It was during this time that he was instructed by Christian Rosenkreutz to “enter the belly of the beast” and transform it from within. While externally, it might not seem like such a sacrifice for Steiner to work with Goethe’s scientific writings, Nietzschean philosophy, or Blavatsky’s Theosophy, all three of these were “trials” and attempts to transform the beast from within, making clear their spiritual relationship to the appearances of Christ before the High Priest, King Herod, and Pontius Pilate.

What about the end of Steiner’s life? What happened to Anthoposophia at the Entombment in 1928? It was at this point that the “Body of Christ”—which we could relate to the Aristotelian Stream—was laid to rest in the tomb of the Goetheanum. Meanwhile the “Spirit of Christ”— the Platonic Stream—continued His Descent into Hell. The Platonic stream worked behind the scenes, in the depths. Anne Catherine Emmerich describes Christ’s visitations to historical Biblical figures, the rescuing of the Dead, and the overcoming of Evil during this stage of the Passion. We also know that the Mother, trapped in Shambhala beneath the nine subearthly spheres, was reconnected with. What better way could we describe the work of Valentin Tomberg, whose activity in terms of this cosmic rhythm took place between the evening of Good Friday and mid-day on Holy Saturday (1930-73)?

Later on, in the evening of Holy Saturday, Mother Mary had a series of experiences with the Spirit of Christ, who presented His body to the Father; and, with spirits raised from the dead, revisited stages of His Passion. Angels (actually, members of the Elohim according to Judith von Halle) accomplished the work of re-membering the shed blood of Christ into His body. This body was then taken into the earth around two in the morning, again according to Judith von Halle. The material body of Christ then united with the body of the Earth; the Spirit of Christ formed the Resurrection Body and united with it, and rose from the grave around 5:35 am Sunday morning, according to Robert Powell.

This is a beautiful portrait of the work of Robert Powell (and others) working under the aegis of the third spiritual teacher, the Novalis Being, over the past 40 years. While Steiner, in line with the public display of the Crucifixion, investigated the Day-side of the Grail, both Tomberg and Robert have investigated the hidden, Night-side of the Grail in this stage of the Entombment. Tomberg investigated the Night-side in terms of the confrontation with Evil in the depths during World War II and onwards through opening of the School of Archangel Jesus. This is the school of healing and morality, brought forward primarily through Tomberg’s Lord’s Prayer Course and Meditations on the Tarot. Tomberg also began the process of reconnecting to the Mother when he received the “Our Mother” prayer in 1940, and subsequently joined the Catholic Church. He “visited historical Biblical personalities” in his meditations on the Old and New Testaments (see Christ and Sophia).

Robert Powell took up Tomberg’s work, but has expanded it by “presenting the body to the Father;” the Night-side of the Grail which he investigates through Astrosophy is related to the Father in the Starry Heavens. The “re-membering” of the Body is such a potent image of his work— re-membering the cosmic configurations of Christ’s life in “The Chronicle of the Living Christ;” re-membering the legacy of Valentin Tomberg; re-membering Hermetic Star Wisdom. The revisiting of the stages of the Passion by Mary and Christ conjures the experiences of Judith von Halle and Estelle Isaacson, both of whom also work in the “Novalis stream,” and who have revisited these events in vision many times over the last fifteen years.

We even have another stage in the architectural impulse approaching us at the very time when Christ’s Body descends into the earth to reunite with His Spirit. Two in the morning on Easter Sunday corresponds to 2011. This is exactly the time that Frank Chester, who works with the science and art of the etheric in California, developed his design for a third Goetheanum, which he calls “The Heart Building.” Frank’s work takes the first tentative steps toward what our work must be for the future. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI1WE4NFc-s

In the next section, we will look closer at the implications of the impending “Resurrection” stage of Anthroposophia, and how this can inspire our actions as modern Grail Knights.

Based on this rhythm, what future are we (or should we be) heading towards? The Resurrection corresponds to December 2019. However, just as the actual Resurrection was mistaken at first for a robbing of the body, we can be sure that there will be confusion in the Anthroposophical Movement as this stage of the Passion is reached. Ideally, what is happening now, and will culminate then, is the permeation and “etherization” of the Aristotelian stream (the Body) with the Platonic stream (the Spirit). The Platonists bear the Spirit of Anthroposophia—without them, the Aristotelians may establish initiatives in the outer world, but they will ossify; they will not be able to bring in fresh influxes of the Spiritual Life. They require the spiritual guidance of the Platonists, who represent the more inward Abel/Buddhist path. On the other hand, the Platonists will accomplish little in the outer world on their own—they need the Aristotelians as their anchor, their hands and feet in the physical world, their “common sense.” The Aristotelians represent the more outward Cain/Rosicrucian path. One gives Life, the other Form. The third stream, which played a large role during the life of Christ, has the task of weaving between these two and bringing them into a healthy relationship.

How long does the stage of Resurrection last? The Risen Christ was with his disciples for just under 40 days after his Resurrection. Using the cosmic rhythm of 59.61 years per day, this brings us to 4362—almost exactly the end of the Age of Light (4399), and very nearly the end of the Maitreya’s path to Buddhahood in 4443. At this point, there is the Ascension. What does this mean for the Grail Stream?

Here I will bring in the other reason for calling this rhythm the Communion of Fish. Valentin Tomberg speaks of seven Communions, each related to one of Christ’s healing miracles (see The Lord’s Prayer Course). The first four Communions are those of Wine, Milk, Honey and Bread. The fifth is that of Fish. While the Communions of Bread and Wine are “day” communions, and the Communions of Milk and Honey are “night” communions, the Communion of Fish could be seen as the communion of continuity of consciousness. It has to do with the weaving together of the heights and the depths, the past and the future, day and night—Heaven and Earth. Just as the bread bears a relationship to the physical body of Christ, the Fish relates to the Resurrection Body, Atma. Another way of thinking of this transformed physical body of Christ is in terms of the Universal Church, Eternal Israel, the Temple, the Rose of the World; in other words, the Grail Stream. (For the cosmic rhythms related to the other Communions, see the works of Robert Powell, e.g. The Christ Mystery).

That is why this cosmic rhythm is related to the artistic, particularly the architectural, impulse of Anthroposophy. As the forces emanating from the Bottomless Pit increasingly destroy nature and human health, the Grail Stream is called upon to recast Nature in human creations. Nature is filled with the etheric imprints of the Hierarchies—this is in fact the source of our health throughout life: that Nature constantly reveals to us the Spirit. As this is destroyed, the Grail stream will be called to manifest human creations that are not arbitrary or simply an expression of our souls, but actually bear the etheric imprint of Hierarchical beings. This was explicitly the purpose and origin of all of the art that came through Rudolf Steiner, especially the first Goetheanum and its centerpiece, the Statue. This is why we are required at this time to enter “Etheric Temples”—these temples are the Schools of Michael, Christ, and Sophia, in which we learn to bear and manifest their etheric imprints.

This is akin to the work being done by Frank Chester—his creations are not arbitrary, they are based on a science of the Etheric; however, they work in the realm of the artistic, and are primarily created for the purpose of healing humanity. They are meant to be a manifestation of the highest, invisible layer of Nature that occurs in the Etheric (one could also say the densest, most manifest level of the Hierarchies that dips into the Etheric). Through Art, we will heal Humanity; we will renew Nature; we will manifest the Spirit.

And just as there was one Cross and one wooden Goetheanum; one Tomb and one concrete Goetheanum; I wonder if we will be looking at many, many Grail Temples being built over the next 2400 years, just as the Risen One could be many places simultaneously. We need think only of Steiner’s indication in 1914 that while the first Goetheanum would not make it through the 20th century, by 2086 (he is very specific!) the landscape of Europe would be dotted with Mystery Centers. Just as the first Goetheanum was at heart a theater for Spiritual Art, and the second Goetheanum an institution for Spiritual Science, the new Mystery Centers will be for Spiritualized Religion, housing the renewed Sacraments of the Rose of the World.

Over the course of the next 2400 years, we will quite literally be in the Schools of Michael, Jesus, and Sophia, as Apprentices in Creation. We must learn during this time period, directly from Hierarchical beings, how to create in concert with them. For then, after the Maitreya has attained Buddhahood, after the Ascension, we “graduate” from our apprenticeship under the Hierarchies. We come to the time of Mani-Parzival, the first human Manu—humanity must be able at this point to guide itself, without the direct support or influence of the Hierarchies. We become, in a sense, Journeymen.

The Maitreya will take us to the point of being able to Speak the Good through the Word and to manifest true human creations under the guidance of the Etheric Christ and the Hierarchies. Under Parzival, we shall advance to the stage of creating physical/etheric vessels for each other out of the power of the larynx, and to transforming nature directly. In order do this, we must have united completely with the Christ so that we need no longer work under direct spiritual guidance; we must put on the Resurrection Body and truly become the Hierarchy of Freedom.

That is why this is also the Rhythm of the New Jerusalem, for the New Jerusalem is a human creation. It does not exist in the Spiritual world, nor does it exist in Nature. It will be a realm created by human beings in which Spirit and Nature, Above and Below, Past and Future, Night and Day can meet each other and dwell together. This seems too enormous to be possible, but let us not be overwhelmed by the scope of our task. We have thousands of years to accomplish it, and our three teachers—Michael, Sophia, and Christ—are eagerly waiting to show us the way.

I believe this Cosmic Rhythm puts in a healthy and fruitful light the events of the past century in terms of the Anthroposophical or Grail Stream. Let us not be looking here and there for the return of the form of Anthroposophy as it manifested in the early 20th century—this will never happen again. Let us not leave Christ on the Cross. Let us also, however, not remain complacent, satisfied in a certain sense to be the “outcast element.” Let us not remain only in the depths or only in the heights. Our way forward lies in the realm of the willingness to heal, to recognize our own failings, to forgive and build bridges to the other streams with which we must work—a kind of esoteric ecumenism. If this can be accomplished, something unimaginable, as unimaginable as the Resurrection will occur. In Anne Catherine Emmerich’s visions, the first deed accomplished by the Risen One was to destroy the serpent that reared its head from beneath the Tomb (interesting in this sense that CERN is in Geneva, very close to the “Tomb” of the Goetheanum!). Our ability to manifest a united Body and Spirit of Christ in the Grail Stream is critical to the task of exposing and destroying the activity of Ahriman in our time, and to everything holy that can unveil itself after that.

There are many other correspondences revealed through this rhythm, having to do both with the current time period and far back into occult history.

One such correspondence has to do with an “anomaly” in the writings of Anne Catherine Emrich. Accord to Emmerich, Christ rose around 3 or 3:30 in the morning, and soon after visited Mary Magdalene at the tomb. This stands in contradiction to Robert Powell’s research, which indicates the Resurrection took place at 5:35 AM. However, there seems to have been something of importance that happened around 3-3:30; this time corresponds to an important year: 2014. On April 30, 2014, Estelle Isaacson perceived in vision the soul of Mary Magdalene receiving a new experience of Christ in his Second Coming; two thousand years ago he said, “Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” In his Second Coming, he says, “Touch me now, for I have descended from the Father” (See Journal for Star Wisdom 2015). Another important date from 2014 is July 27, at which time the Maitreya Boddhisatva/Kalki Avatar being began his work in the 21st century.

A question some might have is in regard to the time period around 4300/4400, during the Buddha incarnation of the Maitreya. In Gautama Buddha’s Successor, Estelle Isaacson describes a vision of this final incarnation. The entire earth has divided into extreme materialistic cultures that dwell in the valleys, and spiritual communities that have receded into the mountains. All have forgotten Christ. How does this fit into the picture of an ever-growing relationship with Christ and the Hierarchies throughout the next 2400 years?

The attainment of Buddhahood for the Maitreya will occur in 4443. On the other hand, the time that corresponds to the Ascension takes place around 4360. We know from our own time how short a cultural memory can be. During the transition from the 44th to the 45th century, a “cultural amnesia” will occur. Just as the disciples were barren and lonely after the Ascension and prior to Whitsun, so will humanity forget the Christ during this time. The Maitreya will come during his final incarnation as a beacon, to make sure the thread is not broken leading up to the Whitsun event of the Grail Stream, which corresponds to 4956 (10 days after Ascension = 596 years; 4360+596=4956).

We can see that there are approximately 500 years between the final incarnation of the Maitreya and this Whitsun event, which we could describe as a strong manifestation of the Astral Christ, the next phase of His incarnation. Just as Gautama attained Buddhahood approximately 500 years before the birth of the Nathan Jesus, then appeared in astral form as a heavenly host proclaiming his birth, so 500 years after the Buddhahood of the Maitreya there will be an Astral Birth of Christ for humanity, leading them through Mani-Parzival to new heights and depths of spiritual work.

Finally, we can look at broader time periods than just the Last Supper through Whitsun and their relationship to human history and cosmic evolution. The time period from Christ’s condemnation by Pilate through just after Ascension corresponds to the Satya Yuga, the Age of Light. Correspondingly, the time from January through April 33 AD corresponds to the Kali Yuga, the Age of Darkness. This was the time during Christ’s life that he had just returned from his sojourn in Egypt. These three months were the period during which the Christ Being increasingly united itself with the physical body of Jesus; this was a very painful time when his external power waned to a great degree. All of recorded human history corresponds to, and is an amplification of, this painful time in Christ’s life. The preceding time period, when Christ sojourned in Egypt, corresponds to the Bronze Age, during which the Atlantean Flood and great migrations from Atlantis all through Europe, Africa, and Asia occurred.

If we go back to the Raising of Lazarus, this corresponds to the fifth Atlantean epoch, the time when the human etheric body united itself completely with the physical body. This is indicated by this miracle’s special relationship to the crown chakra, as the etheric descended beneath the crown of the human being. Prior to this, the sixth healing miracle of the Healing of the Man Born Blind corresponds to the extrusion of the Moon in ancient Lemuria, when the human being experienced the Fall. Here the human being’s “eyes were opened,” indicated by the relationship of this miracle to the brow chakra, the “third eye.”

These correspondences continue all the way back to the first healing miracle, the Changing of Water to Wine. The start of our Earth phase of evolution, the Polarean Epoch, is an amplification of what lay as a seed in this miracle, when the “water” of the purely spiritual human being became the “wine” of manifest reality in the primal element of Fire.

The perspective offered by the Cosmic Communion of Fish can bring us to a somewhat alarming but fruitful spiritual exercise. What one could call the Genesis perspective is that of Time unfolding rhythmically from beginning to end, that our Earth evolution, particularly the Christ Event, is the midpoint, the turning point of evolution. From this perspective, everything in Christ’s life was a reflection of the cosmos. This is the perspective of the Father.

But we can take another point of view, one that is more difficult. We could call this the Johannine perspective, that “In the beginning was the Word.” What if we take Christ’s life on Earth as the beginning of Time, not in terms of its sequence, but in terms of its essence, its being? Every event in Christ’s life becomes a seed, of which every macrocosmic event is an amplification unfolding in two directions: the Past and Future. Christ’s life, in these terms, becomes the Eternal Present and the Origin of Time, that which began beginnings: “Before Abraham was, I AM.” If we can live into this perspective, we find that Time becomes a navigable substance as unto space, rather than a great unknown moving endlessly into the past and future. All of history, all of evolution, lies in the Great Arcanum of Christ’s Life. This is the perspective of the Son.

This is not to dismiss the Genesis perspective. One could say that the Genesis perspective is like describing a plant from the very bottom, the tendrils of the roots, working our way up to the top of the plant. That is one way. The other way is to begin with the seed, which lies in the middle of what will eventually be the plant, and describing from there downwards the development of the root (the past) and from there upward the evolution of leaf, stem and flower (the future). Just as someday any physical record of Christ’s life will pass away, the seed must pass away to create the plant. But the entire plant is permeated through and through with the Force of the seed; so too is all of history permeated through and through with the Christ. “Behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the Age.”

We can find a perspective akin to this in Valentin Tomberg’s Christ and Sophia:  

“Although the Mystery of Golgotha came after the seven miracles in the chronological sense, it is nonetheless their origin and cause.  It is the basis of all the healings that preceded it temporally, and only it can give them meaning and human significance.” (p 267)

The same can be applied in a wider and more comprehensive sense to the Life of Christ and human history.  In a way, the Mystery of Golgotha is this same seed in the Life of Christ—the Eternal Present within the Eternal Present.  The curtain is torn; here is the Holy of Holies.

In Meditations on the Tarot, the anonymous author speaks in the first Letter-Meditation of the direct perception of Truth via correspondence by analogy.  The Life of Christ, the Primal Birth-Death, becomes the Analogy of analogies, the Standard to which all in space and time can be compared, the Essence to which all can be reduced, the Light by which all can be seen.  If we can permeate ourselves through and through with the Life of Christ, only then will we be able to find the Truth in all else.  “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all of these things shall be added unto you…”

Next article: https://treehouse.live/2016/05/28/the-red-admiral/

Previous article: https://treehouse.live/2016/04/08/pt-5-the-bottomless-pit/

 

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.

Next article: https://treehouse.live/2016/05/24/the-cosmic-communion-of-fish-pt-1/

Previous section: https://treehouse.live/2016/04/03/pt-4-jade/

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.

roh

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.

Next article: https://treehouse.live/2016/02/25/principalities-and-powers/