It has been nearly six years since I first began teaching Anthroposophy and Eurythmy in China. On my first visits, I taught in Waldorf Teacher Training Seminars and also Waldorf Community Education programs. Soon, however, a new task became evident, which I have been developing over the past few years.
Again and again, workshop participants have asked me to please move to China and open a eurythmy training. I firmly refused, for I have never had that intention. Yet it is clear that many people are eager to go much more deeply into the authentic study of eurythmy than they can go merely with semi-regular classes. I know that not everyone can, or even should, make the intense commitment to do a professional eurythmy training. But everyone can benefit through a deep immersion into eurythmy.
In eurythmy, every movement is deeply integrative, balancing body, soul and spirit. Nothing is random, nothing is unconscious, and nothing is possible without training in self-development. In eurythmy, we learn to be fully present, aware of ourselves as spiritual beings, centered in inner light and suffused with warmth of heart. We learn to transform the unconscious habits and patterns of the astral, etheric and physical bodies, and use them to move the amazing gestures of song and music in healing art.
As we immerse ourselves in these experiences, I know that we can come to the deepest experiences possible in anthroposophy.
With this in mind, I created EurythmyAlive, a series of 7 5-day courses that I teach to committed students over the course of 2 to 3 years. Every day, students have 3 eurythmy classes and one study class, to create an ever-deepening journey.
As present, I am running EurythmyAlive modules in three cities.
The first course was started in Chengdu: there we have just finished module 6. The students are all women, many of whom travel from other cities to take part. Not all are connected to the Waldorf school movement.
Next was in Taiwan, in conjunction with the CiXing Waldorf school, which could possibly be the biggest Waldorf school in the world, with nearly 1000 students in grades PreK-12. There we have just finished module 4, with 28 committed students. This past month, our theme was a deep study of Occult Science and life between death and rebirth.
The youngest module is in Shanghai, where we just finished module 3 with 18 students. This session offered a study of the planets and a beautiful tone eurythmy project learning intervals with a Celtic song played on the violin.
Experiences of the East
Six years is not a long time to become an expert on China! My language skills are still minimal, and my knowledge of social norms still developing. Yet there are many principles that I know are important for being an effective teacher there.
At every step, I remind myself of the deep and rich cultural history of these countries. I want to understand what the real gifts and the tasks of the ancient people were. This requires a rigorous commitment to humility on my part. Only in this way will I be able to rightly understand the task of anthroposophy in the East.
At the same time, I always am aware that the people who live in the East now have all lived many other lives, in places all over the globe. In the individuals I meet, I must look for their spiritual core and not for the limiting elements they have internalized from the Eastern environment they live in. This awareness makes it possible for me to meet many souls whom I can recognize as Michaelic colleagues.
One thing that often puzzles me in China and Taiwan is my research into the ancient mythologies. In contrast to the other cultures in the world, there is not a rich narrative of a World Creator.
Of course, through the teachings of Lao Tzu, many people have an impression of the TAO, the creative unity that existed in the beginning, and from which the duality of Yin and Yang were later created. But this TAO does not inherently have “being-quality.” And, interestingly, when I speak about the TAO to my students in China, they often ask me to explain to them much more deeply what I know about the TAO, because the current generations were not taught about it during the years of the cultural revolution.
There also is an interesting being in Chinese myyhology called “Panchu.” This being seems to me to be very much like “Adam Kadmon,” an immense Human-Being that existed long ago and from whom all of the life on the earth was created. I cannot find any narrative, however, of his origin.
It remains a challenge to speak of the great creative hierarchies to the Chinese students. Because these gods are absent for them, the world seems to be much more mechanical, materialistic. On the other hand, they recognize the existence of many nature-gods through Taoism, and also honor many spirits who live just beyond the threshold through popular Buddhism.
Any of us who teach in the East have the task of weaving the thoughts of anthroposophy into these cultures in an appropriate way.
Once again, I find that eurythmy is a powerful tool for doing so. A eurythmical study of anthroposophy offers the possibility of it being a genuine experience and not merely a complex of concepts and diagrams!
Impressions of Contemporary Culture
Even in the six short years of my visits to China and Taiwan, I have seen things change. Only seldom do people do double-takes now when they see me, as a foreigner. Most people have become accustomed to seeing westerners on their streets.
The citizens of Taiwan are very different from those in China. Through past historical periods, they had far more contact with other nations–European, Japanese and Polynesian—and they are culturally much more diverse. I can experience this immediately when I teach eurythmy in Taiwan, especially tone eurythmy, for they are more in sync with the evolutionary development familiar to me as a westerner.
China presents many different experiences. Increasingly, the government is investing heavily in infrastructure in the rural areas. I now see roads being built deep into the countryside, reaching places that were previously only services by muddy or dusty tracks.
The cities, on the other hand, are amazing. Many are huge, with over 10 or even 20 million people. And some of these mega-cities, like Shanghai, are truly modern, with spotless subways and an international sophistication equal to Paris, London, or Dubai. Consumerism is rampant. I know people who carry several cell phones with them, for their different businesses. Fashion is fabulous. And all of the modern trends in cultural and spiritual growth can be found there—-personal and business coaching, yoga, sex counseling, raves, ecology movements, up-cycling, and more. My life in Sacramento is really simple, in comparison.
In China, the government surveillance is an ever-constant presence, and growing ominously. In addition, the realization of the impending onslaught of Artificial Intelligence on daily life provided an ever-present background to our eurythmy classes, as I emphasized how important it is to know what it means to be truly present in a human—not mechanical—way.
There are currently several opportunities for Chinese and Taiwanese students to become trained in Eurythmy. There will soon be several dozen native Mandarin speakers available to teach there. We will soon see these new graduates trying out their eurythmy “wings” as they learn to work in Waldorf schools, in public situations and also—excitingly—in their own performing groups! These pioneers will also be at the forefront of discovering how to move the diverse sounds native to their language in eurythmy, and how to cultivate a Chinese eurythmy style appropriate for contemporary poetry and music.
I will continue my work in EurythmyAlive modules. Soon I will begin new modules in these cities I am visiting, even as I am also invited to begin offering new programs in several other places.
The EurythmyAlive Curriculum
Having taught thousands of students over the years, I have learned to develop a very supportive curriculum that focuses less on artistic precision and more on creating experiences of authenticity. I never want to give students the experience that they are doing something “wrong:” instead, I consider it to be my responsibility to speak so clearly and design the movement experiences so carefully that I pave the way for them to discover how the body can learn to speak and sing in harmony with creative forces. My job is to help them succeed!
I generally begin each module with experiences of standing straight, connected to heaven and earth. Then follows the experience of finding the heart-center between these two poles. Through contraction and expansion exercises, the soul begins to find its inner core.
Now that the students can imagine a “crown of light” on the head, and a “golden sun” in the heart, they are ready to sink their feeling all the way into their feet, and learn to talk to the earth through walking.
Once the body has been thus tuned, we continue by building social awareness—for what use is it for a person to find individual excellence if they cannot connect to others around them? With balls and weaving forms, we create a joyful experience of our group.
With this as a foundation, we are ready for all the other myriad experiences of eurythmy. We build agility skills with rods, and spatial orientation with geometric forms.
Module by module, we develop a complete understanding of the living Word as experienced and expressed in eurythmy. Because this is not a training, we are free to choose poems that coordinate with the lecture theme of the modules. We also dive into tone eurythmy, studying many of the scales and all of the intervals. The students find deep joy in working with complex forms for rich musical pieces.
Throughout all the eurythmy classes, we remind ourselves to stay present and centered in the body. It is obvious when a student is looking up, or at the floor, or when the fingers are unpenetrated, or when the sounds are formed with automatic arm gestures and without feeling without learning how to shape space and time, that the spirit is not yet awakened in the body. Developing a genuine sense of presence – without mystical sentimentality –is imperative for eurythmy movement!
As we work our way through the seven modules, the lecture themes take up different topics. The first modules are an introduction to anthroposophy, affirming with the students the meaning of life by looking at body, soul and spirit. We then turn to the four-fold nature of the human being and the natural world, and follow this with Goethean observation of the plant world, to understand the laws of life and change. Other topics include cosmic evolution, planets and constellations as formative forces, karma and reincarnation, and biography work.
It is, thus, my constant commitment to work out of the very core of eurythmy. For us, the essential goal is not in creating eurythmy as a performance art, but rather in healing the self and community by learning to live in our bodies as completely healthy, integrated human beigns.
Nine months after an enforced hiatus necessary for my recovery from a broken shoulder, I am deeply grateful to all my healers, and thrilled to be traveling again, offering my EurythmyAlive workshops in Asia. I began with a 7-day workshop in eastern Taiwan, with a group of 28 committed students. This was their 4th EurythmyAlive module, and we worked intensively on tone eurythmy to a piece by Beethoven, as well as on several speech eurythmy pieces. Our study focused on Cosmic Evolution and the personal journey towards self-actualization.
As always, at the end of my workshop here, I took time to visit the Open Heart Temple, a a Taiwanese-Zen Buddhist temple located nearby. The Master of this temple is a 72-year old nun who, despite being nearly blind, is one of the most loving and joyful people I know. After 10 years of service in a mountain monastery she returned to the city to work in service. Teaching herself architecture, she designed and commissioned this remarkable temple. With elegant and understated forms, its concrete and wood walls stand in the open landscape, surrounded by acres of green rice fields.
One of the main practices her community has developed is their ritualistic Tea Ceremony, and it is an honor for me to take part in it every time I visit. The small group of five participants are ushered into a quite room, and offered seats on tatami mats on the floor, around a low table made of polished wood. There we are greeted by the “hostess,” a novitiate who has spent months or years learning the art of tea ceremony. She has meticulously prepared the space by laying out cloths in beautiful patterns. She has cleaned and arranged the teapots and pouring vessels and the 6 tiny teacups in which the tea will be served. There is a quiet floral arrangement near her serving table, and behind her hangs a quite picture of Qwan Yin, the Buddhist goddess figure whose name means “She who listens.” She represents the capacity to listen beneath the surface of things, to perceive the essences of the world. After we take our places, we close our eyes for a few moments, to still our minds and become fully present. From that point on, all is done in silence, without conversation, until the ceremony is finished 90 minutes later. Even as we took the time to slow way down to be present in those minutes, I will painstakingly and lovingly describe at least a bit of the ceremony, so you can imagine the experience of quieting the inner chatter and entering into the condition of “Zen mind,” presence-without-absence.
The hostess has trained herself to move in complete grace and quite. She touches only one object at a time, and gives her full attention to what her hands are doing. Nothing is proscribed, yet everything is deliberate. As she begins, she lifts the lid off the tea jar on her left side, and puts it on the floor beside her. Then she lifts a shallow bamboo dish with the left hand, and passes it to her right. Her left hand then picks up the tea jar, and she pours the tea into the dish. She places the jar down again and covers it. Then, putting two hands on the dish, she raises it, first to her heart and then to her nose, and inhales the fragrance of the dried tea leaves. The dish is then passed slowly around the circle, and each participant also takes a moment to its scent deeply, before passing it on.
Continuing in graceful stillness, when the dish returns to her, she lays it down. Then she smoothly pours boiling water into the tiny waiting clay teapot with her left hand. This warms the pot, and for a few moments all is still. Then she pours the hot water away, into an empty ceramic bowl. Next, she pours the tea leaves into the warmed teapot, and the steaming heat it holds causes the tea leaves to release their next layer of fragrance.
Now she lifts the pot, again first to her heart, and then to her nose, and smells the new scent. This pot is once again passed around the circle to all the guests, slowly and patiently. When the pot returns, she places it carefully in the middle of the space on the floor in front of her. Then all the tea cups are ritualistically warmed, one by one, with hot water. This hot water is then poured into the same large ceramic bowl. At length, hot water is poured over the waiting tea leaves. Instantly, the leaves flavor the water, and the tea is poured off, only half a minute later, into a beautiful small serving cup. From there, the six tea cups are filled. Only now, at this point, does everyone lift their cup. Slowly and thoughtfully, we drink the tea, letting the heat and the fragrance and the smell fill our senses.
This kind of tasting-touching-feeling, to me, opens a door to a pure sensory experience. I find I am unable to name these sensations: there are no words to describe or narrate to myself what I am tasting. The automatic habit of overlaying every experience with intellectual cognitive descriptions withdraws into the background. We all take time to allow the sensory experiences to blossom within us. I feel reverent gratitude and wonder for the gifts of the natural world and of the caretakers who have planted, tended and harvested the plants, made the tea, and brought this gift to us. My senses, now stilled, drink in the beauty of the flowers, the light playing on the cups, the air we are breathing. As the hostess continues her ritual, the etheric aura of the room becomes rich and full. All of us, as participants, have brought focused our attention forces on the present moment. There is love.
After we have drunk the tea, the cups are carefully returned to the space in front of the hostess. Four more times she carefully repeats the action of pouring water over the tea, pouring the tea into the serving cup and then into the tiny tea cups, and sharing them with the participants. Her exquisitely patient movements continue to hold us in the quiet of the present moment. At last the teacups are carefully rinsed one last time, the tea leaves are smelled one last time and emptied into the ceramic bowl. Then the hostess pours opens a second basket that sits beside her, and takes out six simple napkins and six pieces of beautiful dried fruit as a delicate desert. After all is finished, the participants are invited to engage in quiet conversation, reflecting upon the experiences they just had.
Every season, when I return to this simple but elegant temple and partake in this healing ceremony, my experience goes a step deeper. How infinitely precious is this world we live in! And how precious are the human beings who sanctify this world by acts of loving culture.
Qwan Yin: “She who listens to the inner heart of things.”
PISCES, THE SIGN OF THE HUMAN BEING Sidereal dates: 3/15-4/13 ,Tropical dates: 2/20-3/20
Pisces, the twelfth and last sign of the circle of the zodiac, is the sign that bears the true Imagination of the human being. In Pisces, the story that began in Aires reaches its culmination. The true source of the human being is not the earthly body in which we live, but rather the spiritual I-Am, born out of the Godhead, the source of all Being. All spiritual beings—and there are many– were born of this source, and we humans are but the youngest, as yet to awaken to our potential and our fulfillment. We are the thoughts and the dreams of greater beings, who live and move through us. Yet as we—each one of us alone and all of us together—awaken in our own self-knowledge, we grow out of the infancy and childhood of our cosmic youth. Through our awakening, the never-finished journey of evolution will take its next leap forward. Even though our human form is small and our normal consciousness is limited, each one of us was conceived in the womb of worlds, gifted with the seed force of potentially unlimited evolution. The world of spirit is our home, and we each can learn to access our source. Through awakening to the sources of wisdom and love, we can participate in freedom, in harmony with our Creators. In our present stage of evolution, we live in the physical world, a dimension that bears the imprint of death. Yet we can experience that the spiritually active element in ourselves does not belong to the kingdom of death. Death is a condition from which the Creator Spirit has withdrawn. This is another way of characterizing the world of lifeless matter, in which spirit is not creatively active in this present time. And yet, precisely because we live in this condition, we have been given the powerful gift of freedom, the possibility of choice. In freedom, we may find the way to Wisdom and to Love. Acting in Love, we may choose deeds that are truly worthy of the great gift of life we have been given. Out of these free deeds of love, the universe itself may take the next step of its own evolution.
Truly, we are the seeds of the future. Around the world, human hearts are awakening. We can feel the seed force in our deepest core, as a fire of love and intentionality. The urgent question of our age is: what will the human race create? Let us be wise and kind and good!
PISCES, SIGN OF THE FISH
Representing both the past and the future of humanity, the sign of Pisces is represented as two fish. One fish swims downwards, into the depths. This is the direction that some fish (eels) take, swimming as much as a mile downwards into the depths of the ocean to spawn. They seek the womb in the depths of the salty ocean waters of the earth, even as we, too, at birth, swim out of the skies into the depths of the earth-waters. The other fish swims upwards, even as other fish (salmon) swim from the salt waters upwards into the clear, fresh waters of mountain heights, there to lay their eggs for the future. As human beings, we belong both to the depths and the heights. As spirit beings, we are born out of the clear fresh sources of the heavenly world. All that we perceive through the sense organs rises from the material world into the clear consciousness of our minds. Yet we also dive into the world of matter, into the deep processes of our intestines and physicality, aided by the process of salt, which represents the activity of materialization. Through the gift of salt, we are anchored in this world of substance. We are thus born out of cosmic ethers and descend into earthly, salt-bearing material. Here, spanned between heaven and earth, the human I-Am, the Ego-being learns to know itself as a citizen of both worlds. We may be rightfully grateful for the spiritual world from which we descend and to which we return, and also rightfully grateful for the magnificent world of matter that has been given to us so that we can pass through this enchanted journey and becoming individually initiated into cosmic wisdom. It is exactly here that Pisces reveals to us the greatest secret: the mystery of matter and of resurrection. This world of matter that we live in is entirely divine, and yet because of our desires and attachments, when we look upon this world we cannot see it in its true nature. We see the world of appearances (semblance) and measure its worth through purely physical means (weighing, counting, measuring). These physical tools can only teach us about the outer nature of reality, but not of its divine, spiritual essence. However, we as human beings live in the warm substance and blood of our bodies, in this world, and here we awaken to our individuality. Our journey towards Becoming will never end. I do not envision a future “heaven” in which some might rest in eternal bliss. Nor do I envision a “hell” of eternal damnation. Each stage of the evolutionary journey will hold its own riddle, its own possibility. Here, in this dimension, we must find our way through the world of matter. The Creator clothed His/ Her/ Its-self in colors and textures and fragrances and sounds and substances—all of which are the magnificent ideas of creation, playful thoughts which have been enlivened and ensouled. The footsteps of evolution can be read as the developing thoughts of the Creator, becoming ever more adept at shaping and playing with ideas, which, maturing, become matter.
Pisces is the sign that corresponds to the end of winter, the approach to spring. Through long months of bleakness, seeds have lain invisible in the earth, unable to unfold in the cold of dark and winter. The re-emergence of life in spring has always been celebrated with song and dance and festivals of thanksgiving. Mother Nature, or Demeter-Natura, welcomed Persephone, her beautiful daughter, who had been kidnapped by the god of the underworld and was now released, re-appearing in the realm of earth. Thus the cycle of life began again, as the wheel of the zodiac passed from Pisces to Aries after the spring Equinox. In the Christian holy year, the festival of rebirth is celebrated not only for the realm of nature, but also for the human being. The germ of the human being has been laid into the seed-bed of the material world. Creation has waited with the urgent question: how could the human seed ripen and mature in this kingdom of “death”? Would it rise again, self-aware, and empowered to take the next step of evolution into the future through creative deeds of love born out of freedom? Through the deed wrought by Christ, “death” itself has been overcome. The Creator-God has become as small as a human seed, and entered completely and literally into this earth dimension. By powerfully affirming the power of the I-Am even into the most remote regions of the realm of death, He has lit the passageway for humans to awaken in the realm of earth. The ancient powers of rebirth now no longer hold sway only in the natural world. Now the original power of world-creating can be born as a new capacity in human beings, as seed forces for the future. Through Christ, there is no Death.
For us to take the next step in evolution, we live in this condition of separation, the pre-requisite state for freedom. In our years on earth, in this world of matter, we can be healthy only if we can be truly grounded, woven into the body. This body must be subject to the laws of death. Yet through Christ, death is revealed to be not the end of our story, but rather our return to source. and our continuing evolution through multiple and magnificent states of being, generated through our conscious acts of service in harmony with world creating.. *Astrologically, Easter falls after Pisces, in Aries: astronomically, Easter falls in Pisces. Both perspectives reveal accurate pictures of rebirth.
THE EURYTHMY GESTURE
This is the eurythmy gesture for Pisces. Here our first impression is that the right side and the left side of the body are making opposite gestures. The right arm and the right leg are lifted upwards, towards the light. The left arm points downwards, while the left foot remains firmly planted on the ground. This gesture stands like a hieroglyph, a living symbol touching both heaven and earth. This picture represents the human being who belongs to both worlds.
PISCES IN THE BODY: THE FEET
As the last sign of the zodiac, Pisces completes the human form with the creation of the feet. Pisces forces place us directly in contact with the earth, with the field of gravity. Pisces forces enable us to meet our Destiny as we walk through this world. The higher “octave” of the feet are the hands, which are the tools through which we shape and mold our deeds of will.
THE SOUND OF PISCES: N
The sound of Pisces is “N.” In speaking the sound, we can be aware of a double-dynamic. We hear the preparatory nnnn when the tongue is touching the palate, and then the abrupt release as the tongue flicks back. This double-dynamic is evident in the gesture of the N. The arms extend into space, as the fingers sensitively perceive the air. Then, suddenly, we pull the arms back toward ourselves. We stay in connection with what we touched, with our etheric body and our consciousness, but we also allow it to be separate from us. There are many imaginations we can invoke for the N. We can imagine ourselves to be a child reaching out to touch something, like a kitchen stove. Suddenly, we find that it is hot, and we quickly pull away from it. We could also say that the N dynamic happens on a conscious level when we want to understand something. With our minds, we lean towards it and connect with it. When we have felt it, we pull back, and reflect on what now lives in our minds as consciousness. We remain connected, but distance. And on a very high level, we can imagine the N as a divine act of creation. The Creator reached out with spirit-arms, and made a marvelous world. Then the Creator pulls back, and allows the Creation to set forth on its own journey of evolution. The creator sets it free, but its imprint and love are everywhere. This is the world that we live in. As human beings, we live in the divine created world, set free from compulsion, so we may responsibly take on our own individual evolution and give ourselves back to God.
TO WATCH THE VIDEOS FOR PISCES AND THE SOUND N, CLICK ON THE LINK:
TO WATCH THE VIDEOS FOR AQUARIUS AND THE SOUND M, CLICK ON THE LINK: https://youtu.be/vN_L94s_l0Q or, to download and watch, click on https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/eurythmy-online/Aquarius.mp4
This is the eurythmy gesture for Aquarius.
Of all the zodiacal eurythmy gestures, Aquarius is the only one that is in movement. The eurythmist doing the Aquarius gesture looks almost as if they are treading water in the etheric richness, as they can feel the richness of the auric space that surrounds them.
Let us consider what the qualities of Aquarius are.
Aquarius is one of the four “fixed signs” of the zodiac. These four are four archetypes that shape the human race in particular ways. These are: Taurus the bull, who rules our will; Leo the lion, who warms our feeling; Scorpio the scorpion /eagle who clarifies our thinking; and Aquarius the water-bearer, who unites the other three into the harmonious temple of the human form. Thus, the gesture for Aquarius, which is moving up and down, moves between the head, the heart and the will.
Going deeper: each of the 12 zodiacal signs is a source for one of the ranks of great spiritual beings who live in the universes that surround us. Aquarius is the source for the beings whom we call the angels, those who live nearest to us, watching over us individually and able to help in times of need.
Aquarius hovers at the boundary between air and water. In the circle of the zodiac, it is a “fixed-air” sign, representing the non-physical realm of the light and air.
But Aquarius is also known as the Water-bearer. In pictures it is shown as an angel-human who carries two jars of water in his arms. The water s/he carries is the water of life, the water of abundance.
We live in this world of life, this pre-material world before we are born. The angels carry us through this etheric field, in pure light, where we are surrounded by the life-giving etheric world. Out of this realm, the consolidated physical form of the material world is solidified, and in this world we live as humans, until, at death, we drop the world of matter and live again in non-material realms.
THE EURYTHMY GESTURE
In the eurythmy gesture for Aquarius, we place directly ourselves into this etheric realm. We extend our arms before us, placing one arm at the height of the head (thinking) and the other at the height of the hip-bone (willing). In the movement, one arm sinks as the other rises. Out of the air and light, spirit sinks towards the earth, consolidating towards matter. Out of the materialized depths, etherized substance rises in a de-materializing motion, even as fragrance ascends to the heights, or light rises from a burning substance.
In the middle, between head and limbs, the arms pass each other at the height of the heart. We can imagine that if we could see the watery pattens inscribed in the etheric realms, we could see how the ascending and descending arms create swirling forms in the middle realm. These stimulate the rhythms of the heart and lungs, enriching the activity of the feeling life.
Thus we see that we are surrounded by the field of Aquarius throughout our entire life, even if our perceptive abilities are not subtle enough to directly perceive it. As a source of life, Aquarian forces sustain and enliven us.
Thus, between spirit and matter, materialization and de-materialization, the Aquarian archetype of the human being appears as a living, spiritual idea.
THE COMING AGE OF AQUARIUS
Popular culture has asserted that we are now on the cusp of the new “Age of Aquarius.” However, that age will actually not begin until the zodiac has shifted, or “processed,” so far that the Spring Equinox, which occurs on March 21, occurs in the sign of Aquarius. That will happen in the year 2373.
Nonetheless, certain aspects of “Aquarian-ism” are already evident in individuals and in cultures. Aquarius rules a kind of futuristic humanity, in which human society may operate more in harmony with angelic beings. Outdated social norms of rulership, might and unjust power must give way to new ideals of love and brotherhood. Individuals who have strong Aquarius qualities (perhaps because their natal Sun or Moon is in Aquarius) are often people who courageously go against established societal norms, choosing instead to begin to cultivate a more idealistic way of being. Their hearts are warmed especially by that which is true, beautiful and good.
EURYTHMY IN THE BODY
In the body, Aquarius rules the lower legs—the shins and the calves. It also rules the corresponding part of the upper body, the lower arms.
M, THE SOUND OF AQUARIUS
The sound for Aquarius is “M.” When you intone the sound M, you can feel it like a steady humming that permeates the space all around you: this is what we transfer into movement in the eurythmy gesture. The most powerful M I experienced in my life was when I slept one night outdoors in a completely silent meadow in the mountains of Norway. There I could hear the entire sky “humming,” in a silent affirmation of presence. That night I lived surrounded by the ancient cosmic word “Ommmmm.” We can discover and create this intensity of the living, etheric field in the eurythmy practice.
The gesture for the sound M in eurythmy is very similar to the gesture for Aquarius, except that it is free to move in any and all directions. We can do M with our arms parallel to one another, moving in the same direction, or with our arms moving in opposite directions. In every case, our body is feeling, tasting, shaping the etheric space that surrounds us on all sides. Through our concentrated movement, this space becomes denser, like an energetic field of water all around us.
To create M in eurythmy, imagine yourself robed in peaceful green, surrounded by the liquid blue etheric currents of life. Feel a violet-colored tension in your arms, your shins, the small of your back and your forehead, denoting quiet and intensity. As you imagine these colors, you can feel the color-dynamic of the etheric fields.
Lift your arms, bent at the elbows, and hold them close to your body, with palms forward. Imagine a flood of warmth flowing from behind you, and place your arms into that current. As you now push your arms forward with a firm and steady movement: you may naturally accompany this movement with a gentle exhalation. Use the lower part of your arm, the “Aquarius part,” to feel the space. This means you will only slowly unfold and flatten your arms as you move them forward. The movement continues all the way into your fingertips, at which point you will have completely exhaled. Here, your forehead is very slightly bend forward, and the small of your back very gently presses backwards as a counter-movement.
Another counter-current of movement now returns toward you: express it by turning your hands to face backwards, and bringing your arms backward towards you, in the opposite directions. As you move forwards and backwards, allow yourself to explore the force field all around you, warming and breathing you. This field is alive with the sound energy we know with the humming sound M.
This movement naturally “breathes,” and you will feel yourself organically accompanying the movement with your inhalation and exhalation. In eurythmy, however, we never consciously control the breathing, but rather let it be inspired through our movement. Thus: always allow yourself to take more or fewer breaths, even as your body desires.
Soon you can move in other directions as well. Try moving with your arms extended downwards, forwards and backwards around your abdomen. You can also move an M up and down, or side to side.
Now feel two directions moving at once. Start with one arm facing backwards and one forwards, and move them in counter movements towards and then past each other. Feel how you contract and compact the energy between your arms, and then expand it again. Again, allow yourself to breathe deeply and harmoniously with this movement.
The power of Aquarius always engages the lower arms and lower legs. The M thus has a great power in the lower legs. Put the power of the M in your legs by imagining yourself walking through wonderful warm water, and feeling the resistance of the water against your skin. Walk forwards and backwards, breathing deeply.
You can create the M while walking in any direction, forwards, backwards, in straight lines or in curves. Now practice all the ways you can integrate this walking dynamic with your arm movements.
Play with other kinds of M now, as you match your movements with these words: In the midst of miracles and mystery, we may find minor magic in mice, mists and mischief.
To conclude, stand still, and let the power of the M resound in, through and around you. Remember the green of your robe, the fields of blue that you have been moving through, and the violet tension your muscles have held. Hold this living memory for one minute. You may feel this soul response: I perceive and become one with the breathing of the world-ommm. I am surrounded by warmth. I am calm.
Sidereal dates: 2/13-3/14
Tropical dates: 1/21-2/19
Color: ” Red Peach-Blossom”
Element: Fixed Air
TO WATCH THE VIDEOS FOR AQUARIUS AND THE SOUND M, CLICK ON THE LINK: https://youtu.be/vN_L94s_l0Q or, to download and watch, click on https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/eurythmy-online/Aquarius.mp4
In our studies of the zodiac and eurythmy, we have now reached the signs that rule the winter. When the sun traverses its low path across the sky in Capricorn, the trees are bare of leaves, the temperatures are cold, and the ground is often frozen hard, even covered with snow. Through the help of the earth elemental beings, the Earth Mother is harboring the seeds safe underground. Spiritual science directs our vision to consider that it is exactly in this season when the forces beneath the surface of the earth are most active. Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, is a cardinal Earth sign. This is the season to contemplate the death of winter, and the birth of the Christ child as a seed of light in the darkness.
Capricorn in the natural world: the myth of Persephone
In the season of Capricorn, we may also pause to remember the myth of Persephone, daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. Persephone, the goddess of spring, was kidnapped by Hades, god of the underworld, and carried off to be his bride. Filled with grief, her mother Demeter no longer allowed the earth to bring forth crops. At length, Zeus instructed Hades to release Persephone. He complied, but because he had tricked her into eating food while she was with him in the underworld, she was compelled to return to live in the dark for six months each year. The layers of this story are myriad, but they present a mythological picture of what happens in winter, when the forces of spiritual life are active in the depths of the earth. Persephone’s banishment to the underworld represents to us the cosmic forces that are captured and held by the earth throughout the winter months. Contemplating her life-giving presence in the realm of death, we are given a clue to the forces of life that overcome death in the natural world. Capricorn rules the season in which Persephone is the bride of death, when life succumbs to death in the natural world.
The sacred birth at Christmas
In this spirit, the celebrations of the winter solstice and of Christmas fall within the seasons of Sagittarius and Capricorn. The sacred Christmas festival directs us to contemplate the infinitely tender child of the universe born in the manger, recognized and worshiped by both simple shepherds and wise kings, representing the twin paths of love and of knowledge.
Our human journey in the realm of death
Capricorn thus instructs us to consider this great mystery of birth, death and rebirth for the human being. We enter into nature at birth, but we are also more than nature, by virtue of the spiritual forces that we develop through our repeating earth lives. From the perspective of the spiritual world, when we are born on earth we leave our origin and “die” into the physical world. Here on earth, we live as spiritual beings within the world of matter. In this dimension, spirit has been condensed into substance, into matter, and surrounds us as the natural world. Here, the laws of cause-and-effect, of material logic, of cold and hard facts hold sway. Death can only be overcome when the material world can be permeated by life. Etheric, or “qi” forces, such as unfold in the plant kingdom, cause the world of nature to flourish. Where sentience and spirit conscious are also active in these living-material bodies, they become vehicles for the evolution of consciousness. We carry death in our bones, life in our etheric (qi) body, and the sensations and feelings stimulated through our senses. As evolving I-conscious beings we find our homes in these earth-bodies, woven out of these substances of spirit/matter. And to the extent that we are “well-incarnated,” we can use our bodies to fulfill our biographies healthily on earth. In Capricorn the mysteries of the physical, material world are shown in their extreme. This is the season to contemplate how, as infants, we begin our existence here on earth in a passive, receptive state. In a state of pure receptivity, we live our way this world of light and color and sound and texture, even as we are fed and warmed by the gifts of creation. Yet we are not meant to remain as passive consumers of creation. We are not merely creatures of the natural world, and we need not blindly follow our greed, passions and instincts. Maturing towards adulthood, we unfold our thinking, feeling and willing forces. Gradually, we awaken, becoming aware of the virtually limitless possibilities of our spiritual consciousness. In truth, we have an absolutely essential role to play in the evolution of the world, for we hold the keys to advance the earth or to destroy it. Our thoughts, our feeling and our free deeds are all essential for the creation of the new world, even as the old world passes away. When we become inwardly active enough to notice the activity of our own self-awareness, we become aware of our own role in this universe. Through our humanity, we affect the world even as it impacts us. And by learning to discern the original archetypes of creation, we can choose to act in harmony with the original moral forces. Acting out of them, we can create a future worthy of the gift of life we have been given. Once we have witnessed the sacred power of the human heart and mind, we are astounded to what extent the human being harbors the forces that will build the future of our world. The human body, woven as it is out of the same forces as the world of nature, is in truth a sacred temple for the spirit. The infinite potential of the human spirit has been laid, seed-like, into this sacred temple. Evolving through lifetimes in this so-called world of death, we all must pass through the trials of existence, as we unfold into freedom and live our lives in love. Although it is an earth sign, Capricorn carries the deepest possible power of new life. Capricorn teaches us how we “die” into the material world, there to awaken in the power of the depths. We learn how our spirit can take hold of the world of matter and lead it into what is known as trans-substantiation. The awakened human being participates in the resurrection of matter and the creation of the future of the universe.
Capricorn in the Body
Between lifetimes on earth, we exist spread out into the infinite periphery of the spiritual world. Here, in our earth bodies, we have been compressed into the smallest possible “point” of the center of the world. Our existence pendels constantly between point and periphery, in our repeating cycles of birth, death and rebirth. On a microcosmic level, this dynamic is also imprinted upon the body. Our head represents the “point,” and the limbs stretch into the “periphery,” while the dynamic middle lives in the rhythms of the heart and lungs. Ruled by Saturn, Capricorn forces are found in all the bones of the body. More specifically, Capricorn rules the joints of the body, represented archetypally by the knees. The joints of all the limbs are made up of a ball at the end of one bone and a socket at the end of a second. These represent the dynamic balance between the periphery and the center. Capricorn in the joints enables our will to be flexible and adaptable. Consider for a moment how your limbs would be if they had no joints: it would be virtually impossible to move! Capricorn, thus grants buoyancy to our existence in the world of matter.
The Eurythmy Gesture for Capricorn
The mythological animal connected to Capricorn is the sea-goat, a strange figure with the head of a goat and the curved tail of a fish. It is also sometimes described as a mountain goat, a creature of the flatlands who has evolved to survive on the highest peaks of rugged mountains. We need to understand the forces of Capricorn as creating a bridge between the heights and the depths, even as the sea-goat lives in the mountains and in the oceans. In the gesture for eurythmy, we practice feeling how the forces of the mind, of thinking (represented by the goat who lives in the heights), are used to guide and direct the actions of the will (represented by the fish who lives in the depths). In the gesture for Capricorn, the left hand indicates the head forces. We make a fist with the left hand and place it on the forehead, indicating and intensifying the feeling of the rounded head. The right arm extends outward, representing the will. We hold the right arm straight in front of us, palm facing outwards. We take a large step forward with the right leg, and a somewhat smaller step with the left leg, and, bending the legs, intensify the feeling of the lower will. Remembering the power of Capricorn in the joints, pay special attention to the power of the knees.
L, The Consonant of Capricorn
The consonant that corresponds to Capricorn is “L,” the sound of life, of light, of transformation. The colors of L are soft lilac, silver gray and quietly glowing orange.
The sound L is found in some of the most beautiful words of language, including light, love and life. The L speaks of transformation and illumination. It speaks of how the forces of death and darkness that have descended into the realm of earth are transformed back to spirit union, feeling love and affirming light. L is found in everything that moves through death and life. Its gesture guides the changing of the seasons, the cycles of evaporation and precipitation, the flow of fluids passing through plant life, and the cycles of dying and becoming. No death is too dark, no destruction so great that the forces of Spirit cannot reach into them and transform them. L changes darkness into light, destruction into love, death into life. Thus, through L I engage the force of life that will bring rejuvenation to all that is stagnant within and around me. Begin by feeling yourself clothed in silver gray, surrounded by a gentle lilac-colored field of life. You are poised between polarities, between the endless cycle of life and death, matter and spirit, metamorphosis and transformation accompanying life. With golden-orange lightness in your joints and muscles, begin by lifting your arms to the sides with your palms down, sensing an imaginary horizon line between gravity below and light above. With rounded arms, curve your arms downwards and reach into the depths, bringing your hands together in front of you. When you have reached the lowest point, allow the forces of levity, the force of counter-gravity to raise your arms. Hold your hands side by side as you let your arms be lifted almost weightlessly in front of you. (Take care that your hands point downwards as you lift them, and keep them close together without crossing them as they pass the horizon lines and rise further to the zenith.) Rotate your palms at the very top of your ascent so that they face upwards, blossom-like, as you open your arms wide like a great rainbow arch above your head, and let the colors flood the space above you as your arms sink lightly to the horizon. Creating a new L, turn your palms downwards once again and reach into the depths again, entering a new cycle of metamorphosis. Now explore the many wonderful pictures that come alive when you work with L. Imagine that you plant a small seed into the ground, and let its roots grow deep. Let life rise through the stem, until the blossom unfolds into a wonderful flower. The new seeds will then sink into the earth and the cycle will begin again. Or imagine the water that flows like a river through a mighty tree. The water sinks deep into the roots of the tree, rises through the great trunk, and unfolds in a majestic crown. Or then again, think of the greater cycles of water, going deep into the earth and then rising through evaporation into the clouds, falling like rain, only then to go deep again and again. On a more personal level, you can discover how you enter with your feeling into realms of darkness and transform them into light. Through L, you transform death into life. Through L, you transform hate into love.
On Christmas Eve, the festival of the Nativity, time seems to stand still. For as long as I can remember, the elements grow calm on Christmas Eve. Even storms that have been forecast seem to hold back on that evening, as a mantel of stillness spreads around the globe. For on that night, the earth remembers the birth of the one called the Prince of Peace.
The sacred hour of Christmas happens at midnight, the darkest time of the night. At midnight, when the earth is wrapped in sleep, it remembers the birth of light that happened long ago, at the turning point of time. At that hour, a child was born who would prepare himself to become the earthly bearer of the World Creator, the Christ. It is said that this birth had been prepared over long ages of time. For earth evolution to take its next step, it was necessary that a human being would be born who would be able to sustain the purity of soul, the strength and health of the body, and the clarity of consciousness necessary to receive into himself the divine I-AM. The constitution of this child was so harmonious that body, soul and spirit would be able to be in perfect harmony. This person, the first Son of Man, would embody the prototype that all human beings can evolve towards.
On that cold and dark night in the Middle East, the earthly journey of this human child began in great humility. The Gospel of St. Luke tells us that Jesus was born in the most simple of circumstances. His mother gave birth to her son in a stable, possibly in a cave. Nestled into a manger, he was received into the earth even as a seed is laid into the ground. Around he stood were the goodly animals of the stable, kind creatures who embody the pure elements of the soul.
An old legend tells that those animals in the stall that witnessed the birth of the child who would embody the World Creator, the Cosmic Word, were able to understand human speech on that night. Even as the rocks and the plants, even as the simple shepherds who came to offer their gifts and the angels in the skies, the beasts of the stable were present to welcome his coming. And for that, on that one night, they were released from their mute language and become our soul-kin. And even today, it is said, the animals draw nearer to us at Christmas than at any other time in the year, to hear and understand our speech.
On Christmas Eve, my family and I turn off all of our electric devices. We light a fire in our wood stove and use candles for illumination. We eat a simple meal, and speak in quiet voices, attentive to the blessing spirit of the night.
Late in the evening, some of our dear friends come to our home to be gather around our tree and sing songs. We then take our candles and leave the house. We walk to the farm that is my husband’s creation, directly behind our home. We visit first the cows in the stable and sing to them. Then we trudge across the fields in the darkness to the bees in their hives and the chickens in their coops, the sheep in the stall and the ducks pen. We sing and speak to the animals, and thank them for their gifts.
If time permits, we walk further, down to the river where we may hear the salmon jumping and the beaver slipping into the water.
In the silence of that night, I can feel a wave of world-peace spreading around the world. It has already been midnight in many, many time zones on earth, and people are already sleeping their mid-winter dreams. And as they sleep, they are blest by the spirit of Christmas.
The blessing of Christmas Eve continues for twelve nights, the so-called “Twelve Days of Christmas.” During these twelve nights, the World Creator Spirit draws near to the earth. Even as the earth herself receives life forces for her sustenance and growth in the dark of winter, so too do we receive the deepest blessings of the spiritual world at Christmas. It is possible to become conscious of these deep processes, if we learn to pay attention, especially at night.
My wish and hope for all humanity is that we will be able to open ourselves in this Christmas season to receive the living good-will, love and wisdom of the Creative World as they shine down to the earth, and take root not only all around us but deep within our own hearts.
To watch the video for Sagittarius, go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/eurythmy-online/Sagittarius.mp4 –or— https://youtu.be/E3gEglT0MQY
The sign of Sagittarius represents the Archer, aiming his arrow towards the future. The archer is sometimes shown riding a mighty horse, and sometimes depicted as a Centaur, a mythological creature with the body of a horse and the head and trunk of a human being. Shooting his arrow, Sagittarius rides on the powerful natural wisdom of the Horse. Traveling the night sky to traverse the places of darkness, he aims for the future. He foretells the emergence of the new human being, bearer of a new divine self-awareness.
Chiron, the greatest of the centaurs of the Greek age, presents the archetype of the Archer as Teacher. Chiron was the tutor of the man-hero Hercules, who was assigned twelve challenges to accomplish, a journey which would take him through the twelve signs of the zodiac. Chiron, out of his nature-wisdom, taught Hercules how to successfully complete his twelve tasks, to become the great legendary hero. Drawing upon this image, we can imagine that we are all on our individual Herculean journey, completing our own twelve tasks in our evolving journey of becoming.
The archer who sits upon the horse thus represents the evolving human being. We are on the process of developing a new awareness, evolving beyond the harmonious but incomplete consciousness of the animal kingdom, striving to develop the divine self-awareness of a Human Being.
The Midnight Sun
The sign of Sagittarius rules the winter solstice, the time of the longest night and shortest day of the year. Seen from the northern hemisphere, it sits low upon the horizon. This means that when the sun stands in the sign of Sagittarius, it traces a low arc across the sky, never rising high enough to brighten our days or warm the earth. As the dark time of the year approaches, a mood of mystery pervades all. This is the season when the outer sun of the natural world has faded, and the inner sun can grow strong within us.
Since ancient times, mystery schools have spoken of the “outer sun” and the “inner sun.” The outer sun is at its peak when the sun stands in Gemini at the summer solstice. It teaches us the outer mysteries of creation by filling us with the bounty of sense impressions. The inner sun of the winter speaks to us from depths of our soul, teaching us the inner mystery of creation through the awakening of our inner life. In traversing the cycle of the year again and again, we learn how the inner and the outer are actually two sides of the same, divine mystery.
Summer enlightenment is a gift: winter enlightenment comes to the person who can cultivate the inner spaces of the heart and mind and become aware of the divine that is waiting to be born in us, shining as the sun at the midnight hour.
Many ancient megalithic people positioned standing stones or temples of stone to create sacred places in the landscape. Often, the were positioned them at a precise angle so that the sun would shine upon them at the equinoxes or the solstices. These were considered the sacred times of the year.
We can imagine that the ancient ones feared the dark time of the year. We can imagine that they could not feel the certainty that we have that the sun would re-appear and bring a new summer to earth. In some ancient initiation rites, the priest, or spiritual leader, would withdraw to a temple of darkness at the winter solstice. These temples were constructed to admit the light of the winter sun to shine upon a sacred altar at exactly the winter solstice. It was a test of courage to sit through the dark, and when the priest emerged, he could announce to the peoples that the sun would reappear. This could signify that the dark time had reached its culmination, and that the new cycle would now begin.
The Colors of the Inner Journey
In reading my blogs for the 12 signs of the zodiac, you will have noticed that each sign carries the imprint of a different color. The signs from Aires to Libra correspond to the seven well-known colors of the rainbow, beginning with red and continuing to violent. These seven can be called the “day colors.” Beginning with Scorpio, the next five colors become increasingly delicate, or “spiritual. These “night-colors” are tones of lilac and peach-blossom and magenta that are so delicate and fleeting that we have no distinct names for them. Libra carried the color of violet: Scorpio is a lightened violet and Sagittarius pales to a lavender hue. This is the dark time of the year, and these are the colors of the spiritual world, of mysteries that reveal themselves only to the inner seeker.
As the outer brilliance fades, we have a new opportunity to pay attention to the power of our heart and mind. Especially as we turn away from the pressing demands of the holiday season and create a conscious journey for the inner self, we may choose to spend more time doing inner work. In contemplation and quiet meditation, our dreams may become richer, and our experiences thereby more subtle. We can develop a new sensitivity to the delicate “colors” of our quiet inner life. The inner journey of the soul is cultivated by developing the ability to perceive the subtle dimensions of the non-physical world.
Sagittarius in the Body
In the body, Sagittarius rules the thighs, and, by extension, the corresponding upper arms. Through the arms and legs, we are able to be active in our will, in the sense world.
The next three zodiac signs (Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces) will extend all the way into the knees, shins and feet (and, by association, into the corresponding parts of the arms).
The Sounds of Sagittarius
The sounds associated with Sagittarius are G (as in gate), and its partner sound, the un-voiced K.
Before learning the gesture for these sounds, practice saying them and feeling what part of your mouth you use. You essentially have to create tension in the back of your throat, and inwardly push sideways to open your airway and control the way the air passes out of your lungs. With the voiced sound “G,” you can control the speed of the air enough that you can also make a kind of grunt as you exhale. With the unvoiced “K,” you open your throat quickly enough that the air seems to rush out.
In the physiology of eurythmy, the muscles of the back of the throat correspond to the thighs and upper arms, the realm of Sagittarius. Thus, to create the G in eurythmy, begin by holding your arms in front of your chest, folded at the elbow, with the feeling that your arms are held tight in front of you and you want to push them apart. In preparation, you can imagine that you are in a box, and have to push your way out of it, but you can only use your upper arms, the Sagittarius part of your upper body. Pushing sideways, you create the gesture for G.
You can replace the imagination of being in a box by imagining yourself standing behind a very heavy curtain. This curtain represents everything that keeps you from realizing your full potential. Make a decision to push your obstacles aside, and push the curtains apart. If you pay attention, you can feel that through this movement, your chest is opened wide: you stand in a new world.
It is also possible to make a very delicate “G” gesture. This time, imagine that you are walking through a silvery-gray fog. With your arms, push aside the fog that blinds you, so you can find your way.
As you practice this, imagine yourself working with the archetypal colors of the G. Imagine yourself clothed in sun-yellow. This yellow invokes the radiant light of the I-Am, emerging out of spirit. Feel the silver-gray fog all around you in your etheric body. Push again the fog with a fine blue energy in your arms.
It is also possible, to do G with the muscles of the thighs, corresponding to the deeper forces of Sagittarius.
In a similar way, we can do the sound K with strong movements of the arms or legs. The energy of the K is much more forceful, crisp and hard than the G.
Lift your arms, feeling the power in the upper arms. Thrust downwards with them, vigorously, as if delivering a quick karate chop in the air. You may also thrust them outwards, to the sides. When first learning the K, remember to keep the elbows bent, so that the power is retained in the upper arms and doesn’t extend to the lower arms. Later, of course, you can practice other kinds of K’s.
The colors of the K are different from those of the G. With K, you should imagine yourself clothed in vivid red. Instead of pushing yourself through silver gray, you will burst through a field of bright yellow, with red tension in your arms.
The sound K is the sound that consolidates matter. With the K, the world is suddenly shaped into clear and sharp contours, into crystal clarity.
As I walked on my favorite river trail this morning, the skies were gray and promising to bring rain soon. The salmon were running in the rivers, their silver tales flashing through the waters. Their spawning would be followed by their natural death, which would in turn bring food to the gulls and the vultures waiting on the shore and in the trees. And in the spring, the salmon eggs will hatch, and the river will be filled with fingerlings.
Now, in the dark and dead part of the year, the seeds of new life are being laid into the earth. All the kingdoms of nature take part in the dying and the birth, as the earth inhales her life forces and wraps herself in blankets of leaves and drifts of snow.
And even as the outer world is getting ready for the madness of pre-holiday shopping and feasting, another sacred festival is being prepared. The mid-winter festival is a festival of communion for the universe and the earth. The sacrament of birth is celebrated every year anew, in the humble place of the manger, in the listening human heart, in the deep center of the earth .
The four weeks preceding Christmas are called Advent, meaning “Coming towards.” The great Sun-Spirit of the Macrocosm “comes towards” the earth every Christmas, to be born in the Microcosm of the earth, in the microcosmic heart of the human being. And just as a mother must wait through a pregnancy until she gives gift to her child, so we must wait through the season of Advent as a kind of world-pregnancy. This is a season of waiting and envisioning, a season to prepare ourselves to connect with the spirit who wills to connect with the earth.
And in the four weeks of Advent, the four kingdoms of Nature are each blessed, one by one, as the earth inhales, the seeds are laid beneath the ground, and the Spirit draws near, approaching from the heights of heaven to the depths of earth.
This, the first week of Advent is sacred to the kingdom of the minerals. These form the foundation of all our life, forming the bedrock of the planet, the scaffolding and skeleton for our existence.
In this first week, as we learn to cultivate our inner quiet, we can take time to give thanks and gratitude to the mineral kingdom. We can honor the selfless strength of the rocks, stones, crystals, bones, seashells and more: to the light and wisdom of their shape and form.
The first light of Advent,
It is the light of stones,
Light that dwells in seashells,
In crystals and in bone.
Many people choose to create a quiet ritual for Advent season, by preparing a table with four candles to notate the four weeks of Advent. In the first week, one single candle is lit daily to signify the mineral kingdom. In the second week, a second candle is also lit, for the plant kingdom; in the third week, a third is lit for the animal kingdom; and in the fourth week, a fourth is lit for the human kingdom.
This simple ritual prepares us then for the darkness of the midnight hour, Christmas Eve, when those who understand the esoteric nature of Christmas listen at the midnight hour for the sacred marriage of heaven and earth. At Christmas, the cosmic spirit of the heights enters into the non-physical space of the human heart.
In the deep darkness of a winter night, in the dark of the cave where the child is born, the mystery of birth will be celebrated. Christmas is the season to celebrate the birth of light in the darkness, the birth of spirit being in the darkness of matter.
Scorpio, the Sign of Death and Resurrection Sidereal dates: 11/17-12/15 Tropical dates: 10/21-11/19
Scorpio, the eighth sign of the Zodiac, is the powerful central sign of autumn. In this northern temperate climate, this is the season when the bright reds and golds and oranges of the fall foliage finally drop from the trees and carpet the ground. The naked skeletons of the trees, gray and black and brown against the darkening skies, stand as sentinels of death. The life-forces of the perennials have retreated into the earth: the seeds of the annuals lie beneath the leaves; the tiny buds of next year’s tree-green are tightly enclosed in protective sheathes at the end of the tree limbs. Nature asks the urgent question: what will the next spring bring? What can survive the time of cold and darkness, and rejoin the cycle of life, having passed through death? Scorpio carries the double meaning of death and resurrection. It is a sign not only of the deadly scorpion and the serpent, creatures that wield the power of deadly poison, but also the sign of the eagle and the phoenix, birds that soar above the earth. The eagle plunges downwards with talons extended to catch its prey. This may mean death for the rabbit, but new life for the eagle, so it may soar ever higher in its flight. The phoenix’s journey is even more spectacular. This mythical bird sacrifices its own life by willingly plunging into the fire, only to arise in a new, resurrected form. All the images of Scorpio command us to consider how we live as humans spanned between life and death.
Scorpio and the World of Matter
Scorpio stands under the rulership of the spiritual beings known as the Exusiai, the Spirits of Form, also known as the Elohim. Under their domain, this world has achieved fixed form, a condition in which the limitless, infinitely creative and active domain of spirit has been slowed down, shaped, compressed and solidified. This world lies enchanted under the spell of death. This is the challenge of Scorpio: We live as spiritual beings in this world of matter. Our higher selves still, even now, exist in the sphere of spirit. Will we be able to awaken, remembering how to be ignite our God-selves? Will we serve creation through good deeds, done in love? This path does not advocate abandoning ourselves to spiritual bliss or mindless-ness. This path shows us the way to awaken to full consciousness in the middle of this world of Form, of Darkness, of Death. This path teaches us to have courage to go through the darkness, meeting it with courage and transforming it through deeds of love. On the other side of the autumn and winter of the soul there will be resurrection and new life. And so the Wheel of Life will continue to turn, as we evolve through the experiences of incarnation, of death, of re-incarnation. Thus, even as Scorpio is the sign of death and resurrection, it is also the sign of healing. A true healer must understand how to bring forth the forces of life. These may, of course, come from the field of living things, including the forces of nature and forces that stream from the planets. But they may also come from the field of the life-less. This is the healing work of the alchemist or the homeopath, who lead the material world to its final compression, allow it to dissolve into dust, and harnesses the formative forces that are released through the dissolution of the enchanted material world. In this sense, the “laboratory becomes an altar.”
Scorpio in the Body
In the body, we find Scorpio forces wherever the forces of catabolism are active. We must be strong enough to tear down the inherent formative forces of all the food we eat, so that we can incorporate it into our unique, personal body through the anabolic processes. Scorpio rules over digestive forces that must break down the world of matter when it is digested. The power of Scorpio also speaks strongly in the bones, the most material part of our body. There, in the core, or marrow, of the bones, new red blood cells are being constantly created, in astonishing volumes. This is the source of new life, new life rising from death. Most significantly, Scorpio also rules over the reproductive organs in the body. In the deepest part of our bodies we carry the “holy of holies,” an organ system that carries the sacred seed of new human life. Here lies tremendous power, poetically equivalent to the power of nuclear fusion. Sexual energy has always been recognized as a two-edged sword: a path to dark power or self-serving lust, or a sacred path to profound union and love. Finally, on a spiritual level, Scorpio also rules the brain. Here we are taken on a powerful journey to realize that the brain does not “think.” The brain processes do not “secrete” thoughts. Neurological pathways are established through our experiences in the sense world, and also by our inner processes. As spiritual human beings, we read the patterns in our neurons to have consciousness. However, as everyone who has studied meditation and inner work knows, the meanings that we derive from what the input from the sense world offers us is completely determined by the quality of our spiritual activity, and the effort we put into clear thinking. Consciousness soars as a phoenix out of the ashes of mere sense activity, out of the purely neurological phenomena of brain activity.
Scorpio as a Spiritual Activity
In many spiritual traditions, including the New Testament, we are instructed to “die, before we die.” Like the phoenix, we may consciously enter the domains in which death-forces rule, the region where creation has been frozen into its fixed forms, beyond the reach of the creation beings. There, in human freedom, we may arise as self-realized beings, offering our own works as deeds of sacrifice for the greater good.
The Eurythmy Gesture and the Sound of Scorpio
To make the eurythmy gesture for Scorpio, focus all your power on standing upright and centered, prepared to master the forces of death and healing. Let your left arm become like an iron sword. With this sword, you will penetrate the mysteries of death and dying, of healing. Hold your arm slightly in front of your left side. pointing into the earth, holding “dragon forces” under your firm control. The sound of Scorpio is the S, which is possibly the most difficult sound to create. As the S rises from below upwards, it shows the higher nature of Scorpio, the eagle or the phoenix that spreads its wings and takes flight. When S plunges from above downwards, it shows the eagle plunging to the earth to take its prey. It shows the sting of the scorpion, which is often deadly. It shows the serpent that cannot stand upright but crawls on its belly on the ground. There it reaches into the realms of matter and of death. From there, it may overcome death to create the light of thinking, claiming resurrection and new life. You may watch R.E. demonstrate the eurythmy sound for Scorpio and the sound S here: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/eurythmy-online/Scorpio.mp4 or here: https://youtu.be/OB1O1O65vkQ
Tropical dates: Oct. 21-Nov. 19 Sidereal dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 15 Color: “Peach-blossom Violet Sound: S Element: Fixed Water
Libra, the seventh sign of the zodiac circle, is the only sign of the circle that does not show a person or an animal. Instead, it represents a pair of scales, holding the balance in dynamic stillness, thus showing the “middle way.” It resolves the tensions between the polarities and extremes that form the foundation of ourlives ,spanned between the yin and the yang, the microcosmic and the macrocosmic, earthly and heavenly, human and divine. Between these two weaves a dynamic conversation, represented in the zodiac by Libra.
In this conversation the “soul of the earth,” Natura, expands and contracts through the seasons of the year. In summer, she breathes out, extending towards the heights. She reveals her expanse though the growth of the plants, with their fragrances and colors, and through the air shot through with insects and birds. As summer comes to an end, Natura returns to the body of the earth. Fruits are formed, seeds fall to the ground, and nature’s life forces contract into the darkness of the earth. Through the long months of winter, the earth holds counsel with her own inner self. Libra is the zodiacal sign that marks the balance point between these two extremes, when the soul of the earth has withdrawn from the heights and prepares to retreat into the depths, which will be marked by the next sign, Scorpio. Libra marks the moment when, for a moment, the earth holds its breath, before the descent into the depths begins. Although in the sidereal calendar Libra has 30 days, as do all signs in the sidereal system, if we actually observe Libra in the sky we see that it is one of the smallest constellations, This explains why it is so short in the tropical calendar. It is a mere pause in the dynamic dance of the year, a blink of the eye, a flicker of time when equanimity is achieved. Of course, these words describe the archetype of the zodiac circle as manifest in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. Different aspects of the cosmic dance are manifested in the southern hemisphere, as well as in the tropics and the arctic zones: these realities demonstrate the presence of extremes as they are balanced in Space (different regions of the globe) as well as in Time (the seasons of the year).
The spiritual balance and the Archangel Michael
Libra has an even deeper story to tell when we consider why it is poised between Virgo and Scorpio. Virgo, the mother, represents fertility and abundance. Scorpio is the sign of death. Juxtaposed as a small constellation between the two, Libra represents the free space that we must cultivate to find our path of balance between life and death. A great spiritual being, the Archangel Michael is the archangel of autumn, who arms us with courage to enter the realms of darkness in the upcoming cold winter night. In our present age, the Archangel Michael shows us through his spiritual deeds how to walk the path of Libra. We can discover this in all the myriad legends of Michael and in the verses and songs which call upon him to give us strength for the battles we face. The book of Revelations in the Bible (the apocalypse) writes of the (arch)angel in heaven who did battle with a fearsome dragon in heaven. This beast sought to destroy a child who was being born at that moment of the maiden in heaven. Michael cast the dragon down to earth, thereby rescuing the cosmic child, who represents the cosmic forces we all bear within us and our possible future. This theme was reiterated in countless legends from the middle ages, which showed Michael, the conqueror of the dragon, as the source of courage for knights. As we strive to penetrate these symbols, we recognize the dragon as the spirit of darkness, of materialism. It threatens to chain us into a mechanistic world-view, estranging us from our birthright. If we can rightfully traverse the journey through this material world, we can evolve towards the radiant future that is promised to the humanity, the child of the heavenly maiden. In this sense, Michael is the rightful guardian of the spirit of autumn, in which the earth begins to withdraw from the radiance of summer and enters the dark months of winter. We humans, living on the earth, make this journey with her, entering into the dark spaces of our own souls, corresponding to the mood of winter cold. For this we need courage and clarity. One of the most pressing battles of our age is the struggle to prevent the materialistic world-view from convincing us that we are nothing but genetic predetermination, neurological processes and atomic processes. This world view threatens to chain us to the darkness of earth and cause us to abandon our divine nature. This is the true fight with the dragon of our age, who attacks the heavenly child, the spiritual Human Being. We are called upon in our time to engage in the mighty struggle to become conscious of our inner self, who is living enchanted in this world of matter. The Archangel Michael represents in our age the power of clear thinking and consciousness. He embodies and serves cosmic intelligence, the brightness of thought that enables us to understand the meaning of existence and the struggle that we all have as we pass through this journey of living in matter to evolve towards becoming truly human, beings of love.
Libra in the human body
In the human shape, Libra rules the hips, and specifically the pelvic bones. These cradle the lowest parts of the metabolic tract and the reproductive organs, both of which are attributed to Scorpio. More importantly, they provide a firm structure to enable use to stand and to walk. These, of course, are the prerequisite for our journey upon the earth. Because we are upright, our hips must differ from those of an animal. They must provide the foundation for us to be able to walk even while holding the head straight and quiet, and also while engaging the arms in independent activity. I invite you to take a moment to reflect on how the pelvic bones gently rock from side to side with every step that you take, like a set of scales that is constantly seeking and establishing the balance of the middle axis. You will feel that your upright spine is the fulcrum, around which the “pans” of the scales oscillate. We have thus embodied Libra, right into our skeleton.
Libra and the Spirits of Movement
In the last essays, I have shown that the sign of Leo powerfully embodies the energy of the lofty creator beings known as the Thrones, and that Virgo embodies the wisdom of the Kyriotetes. This next sign, Libra, bears the gesture of the Spirits of Movement, the Dynameis. In esoteric studies, these are beings that evolved beyond the harmonious quiescence of Ancient Sun, and initiated the cycle of evolution known as Ancient Moon. By enkindling the dynamic powers of attraction and repulsion, or sympathy and antipathy, they allowed the created world to begin to wax and wane with its own, movement. Libra marks the memory of how the universe lost its balance, and constantly strives to establish the middle way, the “hypomochlion.”
Libra and the sound “c”
The spirit is by its very nature, full of movement and activity. The sound for Libra emerges out of the stillness of this resting gesture with lively movement is “C”, pronounced ts. In English, we write this sounds with the letters t-s. We have very few words that start with this sound, but we find it often at the end of words like “cats.” We can find it in the middle of words like “dance” and “celestial.” Begin with your hands low, palms facing upwards, at about the height of your hips. Now imagine the smoke of sacrificial incense rising weightless, upwards. As if invoking clouds of fragrant etheric incense, lightly bring your hands together, then release into lightness, bring them together, release, and again—as often as you can until the smoke disappears into the heights. As a sound, ts rises lightly out of the depths of matter towards the light. Ts is the energy of spirit overcoming matter, of resurrection, of the etherization of the blood. Thus with Libra and its corresponding sound Ts, the infinite human spirit has found its place of rest in matter, and embarks on the journey of redeeming matter, transforming it into light.
“The world contain worlds” Sept 21-Oct. 20 Color: Violet Element: Air Sound: C (ts) Element of sound: Fire
To watch the eurythmy gesture for Libra, click on this link:
VIRGO, THE DIVINE FEMINIE “Behold the worlds, oh soul!”
Sidereal Dates: Sept.17-Oct. 17
Tropical Dates Aug.21-Oct. 20
Spiritual Hierarchy: Kyriotetes
In our studies of the 12 signs of the zodiac and eurythmy, we have now arrived at the 6th sign. In accordance with ancient wisdom, we have seen the workings of the signs of the zodiac progressing through the parts of the body they have shaped:
Aires The head
Taurus The throat and larynx
Gemini Bilateral symmetry: shoulder and arms
Cancer The chest
Leo The heart
With Virgo, we will sink below the solar plexus, below the diaphragm, into the metabolic center of the body. In the deeds of our limbs, we change and affect the world around us.
The Divine Feminine
Virgo is the sign of the Maiden and the Mother. It is also the sign of “Mater,” the Material world. The mystery of Virgo has been expressed in the course of time as thousands of changing images: the Virgin, the goddess and mother of the Earth, the Platonists’ goddess Natura, Parsifal’s Pieta, Demeter-Persephone and the Artemis of Ephesus, Athena and Aphrodite, Freya with the apples of eternal youth, the Mary listening to the angel’s annunciation and the Mary beside the manger with the animals ranged about.
In the Eastern mysteries, the female signifies the receptive “yin” energy, the vessel that has received the active “yang” energy, and carries it in the form of a seed.
The greatest of all Virgo Beings is known as Sophia, who, as a being of complete Wisdom, encompasses all other beings. We find her footprint in all of the sciences whose name contains the word “-sophy,” including philosophy (love of wisdom,) theosophy (wisdom of God), and anthroposophy (wisdom of the essential human being).
Virgo and Sophia
Even as we remembered the first beginnings of creation in our consideration of Leo, with Virgo we remember the second unfolding of creation in a phase known as “Ancient Sun,” the cosmos of Wisdom, born out of the activities of the great spiritual beings known as the “Kyriotetes,” spirits of wisdom. Sophia was the radiant spiritual being that encompassed all other beings in her Body. In Sophia, wisdom is identical with enlightenment, for it is without blemish or fault. Those who seek wisdom may awaken in understanding.
Sophia continues to guide us in our evolution as human beings, so that we, too, may awaken to our I-Am self. And on our pathway towards our awakening, Sophia is our constant mother.
Virgo-Sophia and the Beginning of the World
We can characterize humans as those beings who need the solidity of the material world to awaken to self-awareness. (This is in contrast to all higher beings, who needed only the condition of warmth, or light, or movement to awaken). The material world was thus formed, created out of the condensed will and wisdom and activity of the creating spirits. Plunged into this world, we learn to see the handwork of the creator through our senses, and to speak back to the world: “Because you are, I am.”
Thus, as our earth-story began, and the world of Matter came into being, Sophia created the womb of the world, Nature, into which the seeds of creation could be laid. We may imagine the human being living most lightly upon the earth: Rudolf Steiner even suggests that as the world was still very young, still condensing, human bodies were first as “delicate as the molecules of smell,” and later as “ethereal as flowers.”
Virgo in the Natural World: Demeter-Persephone
As the material world further evolved, spirit descended even deeper into matter. The Greeks experience the living world of Nature to be a goddess, Demeter, the spirit of the seasons and of harvest. Each year, at autumn (what we now know as the season of autumn), the outer vitality of nature –Demeter’s body—withered and fell, seed-like, onto the earth. From this experience, it was said that Demeter’s daughter Persephone was kidnapped by the god of the underworld, and was condemned to spend one half of each year (winter) underground. This signifies, among other things, that humans would be able to live not only upon the earth, but also in the world of matter.
Virgo and Mother-Mary
Virgo-Sophia has had many other designations in the course of human history. Surely the most powerful image in esoteric Christianity is the picture of Mary, mother of the child Jesus. Here, the mother represents the divine womb into which the cosmic human spirit has been laid. Mary creates the vessel out of which the awakened, self-realizing human spirit will arise.
Here we can contemplate the picture of mother and child in the stable, surrounded by the plants and the animals. In their deepest senses, these, too are born of nature, even as the material foundation of our bodies is drawn from the material world. We are one with nature, and yet, through individuation, we evolve to a new level. The plants and animals around the manger behold the birth of the human being, and are amazed.
Virgo thus represents the original spirit of Sophia, as well as Nature, goddess of the natural world, and also Mary, the woman-soul who creates the vessel for the spirit ego. This designation is, of course, beyond all gender considerations, for each of us has a feminine nature, body-soul, that receives, embraces, and protects the engendering and individuating masculine energy of the Spirit-self. When we create and realize our archetype, we become whole human beings.
Virgo and the Human Body
Here, where the human soul lives in the material world, we are no longer able to feed ourselves out of light and air. Here we have to have the ability to nourish ourselves out of the material world.
In the human body, Virgo rules the interior space of our digestion, the space below the diaphragm.
There, the organs of our digestion meet the outer world through eating. We must destroy what enters us, through chewing, liquefying, emulsifying, and “burning” it, until it is turned into chyme. Then, imitating the process of world-becoming, our inner solar system organizes the chyme and re-shapes it, turning the grains, fruits, vegetables and proteins we have eaten into human substance.
In the activity of eating, we do far more than merely internalize and excrete. We actually participate in building up the human body, the sacred vessel for human beings, we who are evolving to become the new offspring of Sophia.
The Eurythmy Gesture for Virgo
After the radiance of Leo, the sign of Flaming Enthusiasm, the gesture for Virgo is one of quiet inwardness. The eurythmist stands quietly, holding herself still. She raises her left hand and holds it very quietly in front of herself, consciously feeling the space of the inner metabolism. The hand may very lightly touch the body, approximately on the front of the bony process of the hip bone.
The Sounds of Virgo
Each of the zodiac signs “speaks” to us with the power of the consonants. Virgo has given us the power and the gift of two sounds: B and P. These are both earth sounds, that carry the gesture of making sheaths of protection.
We can imagine that before the first gesture of creation, before Time and before Space, the Divine source of all being was a source of unlimited and unmanifest possibilities. Then, in a gesture of love, the creator wraps its limitless Being around the Entirety of all that is, all that has been, all that will even be in a cloak of soft blue. We are forever held, in a mantle of love. B creates a sheathe, a skin, a robe of protection. In creating the B, I am an angel that protects my self. I am the mother that holds the child and I am the child held by the mother.
To create the B in Eurythmy, imagine yourself clothed in yellow light. Reach out your arms, and invoke a cloak of protection, woven of the sky. The spiritual world fills your outstretched arms with a rich blue cloak, present as it has always been, since the beginning of time. Imagine your cloak with a red lining, which gives you firm inner boundaries and strength. The B creates a safe wall around you, a place of protection that will give you form and definition.
We can find the rounded gesture of the B throughout the entire natural world. Even as your angel holds you warm, as a mother cradles a child so we are held in the embrace of the great cosmic spirit. You can explore big and bold B’s, and also tiny B’s. You can make B before you, behind you, above you, below you. You can discover B with your hands and with your legs. In nature your can find the gesture of B in boulders, bees and blossoms. B protects the small tender things of the world, wrapping itself around babies and embryos.
In B, the soul rests in the knowledge that it is safe when it makes boundaries. We often teach B in therapeutic eurythmy to help people who feel vulnerable. This can include people with low self-esteem and people who have been abused. On a more organic level, it helps children who are bed-wetters.
The B teaches us how the Creator has made the universe, and holds it in love.
Color: indigo, deep blue
Sound: B and P
Element of Sound: Earth
In the body: Metabolism