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In this season of the Covid-19 quarantine, it seems we have all wrapped ourselves into our own, individual cocoons. We have withdrawn into our interiors, there to face profound existential questions.
There has been no time like this in my lifetime, in which the natural world has mandated us to slow down, stop, and face the question of our own mortality. The challenge here is not like 9/11, not a nuclear war, not even—yet—ecological disaster. This challenge is more intimate, slow and quiet. Each of us has to face the stark reality of our own interior. And what do we find there? Do we continue to distract ourselves, to fear, to despair? Whom do we meet, in our personal, silent spaces? Who speaks, in the interior of the soul? This year, perhaps like never before, we are plunged into the mood of Lent, or pre-Easter. Here we face the deepest questions of our own mortality. We are forced to face the question: What is death? Are we ready for our life to be finished? For our loved ones to leave us, possibly in the wink of an eye? The coming week, known as Holy Week, is the time of preparation for Easter. Each day carries the powerful archetype of its ruling planet, imprinted on the human psyche According to ancient wisdom, these are: Sunday Sun Wholeness and abundance au Monday Moon Reflection i Tuesday Mars Assertive opposition ā Wednesday Mercury Agility and balance ē Thursday Jupiter Generosity, wisdom o Friday Venus Love ah Saturday Saturn Solemnity u Through the insights of esoteric Christianity, we can find a path of meaning through this week, as we contemplate the archetypes of Lent. In the journey through Holy Week, we face the deep questions of life: meaning, intention, birth, death, suffering, sorrow. These questions are not only for the religious person: these are the powerful questions that are brooding in all of us, as we wait in the cocoon of our quarantines. This is the week to embrace the crisis of the spirit, the trials of life. This coming Easter will also be unique. There promise to be no outward festivities. Yet in the earthly-spiritual realms, new doors will be opened—doors we very well might not have been able to notice, if life had not driven us to the brink of death. We will have a new appreciation for the gift of being alive, of having been created and placed into time and space. We can draw nearer to understanding our ultimate responsibility: the task of creating the new human being through living on the earth in sacred service to the Creator and the created world. In that spirit, starting tomorrow I will once again publish the 8 Easter essays I have written for this season, one for each day of the week. If you miss a blog, you may also find all the Easter essays by following this link: https://eurythmyonline.com/category/festival/holy-week/
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Have you wondered: what would you do if you were quarantined in your home?
For the past six years, I have traveled repeatedly to mainland China and Taiwan, offering in-depth workshops in Eurythmy and Anthroposophy.
This year, we are compelled to call off our spring workshops, due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) that is affecting every aspect of life in China. Today’s news said that as many as 760 MILLION people are quarantined in their homes. This accounts from more than half of the citizens of mainland China.
Of course I feel tremendous compassion for the pain and suffering of individuals who have contracted the disease themselves or have seen their loved ones suffer. When the disease becomes acute in a person, it attacks first the lungs and then can lead to pneumonia. In severe cases, it continues to create massive organ failure and possibly death.
How is it then for the millions of people who are quarantined in their homes, unable to socialize, unable to reach out beyond their own four walls except possibly through the internet? And so, as much as I regret the interruption in our work, and even as care deeply for those who are afflicted, I have also been so curious about those others whose lives have been curtailed so radically.
To find out more, I called some people last week to hear their stories.
As far as I could tell, all—or nearly all—the major cities in China are shut down. Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease, has been described as a “ghost town.” The streets are empty: the only vehicles one might see are the patrolling military, the ubiquitous delivery trucks, and the medical cars. The silence is stunning: only the occasional barking of a dog or the wail of a distant ambulance punctuate it.
Even in other cities, in which the virus is perceived more as a distant threat, the streets are largely empty. The majority of businesses are still closed: people work from home when possible. A family I know of there that owns a restaurant has no idea when it might be allowed to open again. Schools are shuttered: it is likely that when they are allowed to reopen, summer vacations will be cancelled to resume teaching as vigorously as possible.
Those who are quarantined are virtually confined to their homes. If they want to go out, they have to have a permit. Even then, they know that when they walk on the streets they will be subjected to frequent stops by security forces who are mandated to check everyone’s temperature.
I confess that all this sounds very difficult.
And then, as always, I look deeper. I wonder: is there anywhere some redemption, some blessing in all of this?
Yesterday I called two of my friends who live in two different cities to ask them how they are doing. And both of them, independently of one another, aid “I actually think that this will be good for our country.”
“Please,” I urged, “tell me what you are seeing.”
“This can bring us back to our roots. Here in China, we are living such a crazily busy lifestyle. We are always rushing, buying, desiring things. We are so restless. We have lost our center. We have lost our way. Now we are forced to become quiet. We have to find a new way of being.”
One friend, a master teacher of NVC (non-violent conversation) imagines how people have received the challenge and the gift of having to look for new depths of connection and relationship with the people they live with. How easy it is, she said, for us to live a distracted life! How easy to turn our attention away from our families or those with whom we live, and lose ourselves in the drive and stimulation of daily urban life. How different it is in these days, when people must sit together, must re-learn and re-discover how to share life.
My friend in Shanghai told me of another woman, a spiritual teacher there, who, focusing on the nature of the disease which aggressively attacks the lungs, proposed this picture. She says that in the chaos of life, the Chinese people have lost their center, their middle, their breath. They need to learn to breathe again. To that end, she proposes that people should cultivate practices of quiet breathing during the day. They should strengthen their heart, their lungs, their sense of rhythm.
This is a reality that is also at the heart of anthroposophical medicine, which affirms that “all true healing comes from the balancing of the Rhythmic system, the heart-lung center.”
I have heard that many people in their homes are turning to Art. Those who have studied to become Waldorf teachers have been instructed in many practices of painting and music-making. Now, in these long hours of confinement, they finally are finding the time to turn to their inner journeys of self-transformation and renewal through the arts. In that way, the hours and days and weeks of confinement can lead to a new-found sense of the meaning of life.
And those who have worked with me are telling me that they now know in a new way how to turn to eurythmy. Now they can understand on new levels how to practice it, so it can bring them into contact with the true sources of their humanity.
It heartens me to hear this news. I understand well, how easy it is to forget. Now they now, vividly, how much health and well-being, so much spiritual reality flows to us through the personal practice of eurythmy.
And so I invite us all to ask ourselves: what would I do, if I were confined to the small world of my house and home? In all earnestness, I know I would take up my study of spirituality, of anthroposophy, of meditation, and of eurythmy. That is where we can find true healing. That is where we can find our true selves, born out of the love of the creator and learning, slowly but surely, to become truly Human.
And so: now the new year begins. And now we ask: what star will we follow, as we begin our new year? New Year’s Day, January1, marked the beginning of the new calendar year. But the Festival of 12 Holy Nights that stretches between Dec. 25 and Jan.5 ends on Three Kings’ Day, January 6. Thus, we have just finished the sacred journey that we traverse every winter, from the two distinct hallmarks of Christmas. It opens with the image of shepherds, people in touch with the natural wisdom of the earth and its season, opening their hearts as they celebrated the birth of light in the darkness. It ends now with the festival that celebrates three Wise Kings. These represent those who have cultivated the paths of wisdom and head-knowledge. The kings were guided to the midwinter mystery of birth by reading the stars. As kings, they were the wisdom-holders of the cultures, the sages and initiates who could read the patterns written in the stars and match them with the event on the earth. These archetypes find deep resonance in our souls as well. As modern human beings, we are called to practice clear, radiant, non-sentimental thinking, developing our consciousness to be vessels for the divine. We must be kings in our practices of consciousness, for there is much that could lead us astray. And all the more are we called to open our hearts, to find the limitless wellspring of love that has made the world and has made us. We must find the true sources of kindness, compassion and even wisdom in our loving hearts. This is the way of the future. Love of power and wealth, self-image and prestige, comfort and greed will blind us. But there is a way through all of this: the path of the heart.
“So there abide: faith, hope and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.”
Now, as we aspire to give shape to the resolutions we have made, the dreams we have envisioned during the 12 Holy Nights, the image of the star can guide us. We can resolve, every day, to align ourselves with the best that lives in us, with the Good, the True and the Beautiful in service of Love. With this, the baptismal blessing of the epiphany can awaken us.
Winter’s Cloak by Joyce Rupp
This year I do not want the dark to leave me. I need its wrap of silent stillness, its cloak of long lasting embrace. Too much light has pulled me away from the chamber of gestation.
Let the dawns come late, let the sunsets arrive early, let the evenings extend themselves while I lean into the abyss of my being.
Let me lie in the cave of my soul, for too much light blinds me, steals the source of revelation.
Let me seek solace in the empty places of winter’s passage, those vast dark nights That never fail to shelter me
Deepen your experience of the Holy Nights with a profound eurythmy study of the zodiac.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all a very beautiful Christmas season. Here in my home, the skies are gray, the grass is green, the trees are bare, the birds have arrived from high in the mountains, and chirp in all the trees as they wait for spring. Everything is becoming quiet in preparation for the Christmas Eve, the prelude to the 12 holy nights. In my family, we celebrate Christmas Eve with a silent, candlelight dinner. With a few friends, we gather around our Christmas tree and light the candles, celebrating the birth of new life and love on earth. For us, Christmas day is also a day to celebrate quiet. We continue to cultivate peace, mindfulness and love for 12 Days and nights, until at last we come to three Kings Day, on January 6. During these twelve days, if we celebrate quietly, we really gain new strength and inspiration for the coming year. This is a time to dream your future into reality!
THE TWELVE HOLY NIGHTS
We are all familiar with the popular tune, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” But what do they really signify? Many ancient civilizations followed the course of the year by using the Lunar Calendar. This calendar measures the time it takes for the moon to complete one full cycle, such as from full moon to full moon, or from new moon to new moon. This cycle takes just less than 29.5 days. Twelve lunar cycles complete one lunar year, the time it takes for the moon to return to its starting point. (For instance, if the first full moon would be in Capricorn, the next would be in Aquarius, the next in Pisces, etc. After 12 cycles the next moon would again be in Capricorn.) Thus, the lunar year takes just over 353 days. The calendar commonly used in the west, the Christian calendar, follows instead the cycle of the sun. It thus takes 365 (or 365.25) days for the sun to return to where it had been a year previously. Deep mysteries are woven into this story. We must cultivate here the difference between sun knowledge and moon knowledge. The moon is a perfect reflector, whereas the sun serves as the source of light and love. In our souls, the moon seeks to serve what is greater, whereas the sun is the source itself. Our soul, our psyche, lives in the dynamic interplay between the moon aspect of our daily self and the sun aspect of our authentic self. This dance is a precious mirror of the connection between sun and moon. You will have seen that the difference between the lunar calendar and the solar calendar is 12 days. An old tradition chose to honor the dynamic tension between the two calendars now, during the 12 days that follow Christmas. We can follow this story deeper. Thus: December 25 is thus considered the day when the shepherds visiting the holy child in the simple cattle stall in Bethlehem. It is a time of quiet blessing and inwardness. January 6 is considered by many to be the day when the three kings, who had traveled from distant lands, finally found their way to the holy child and offered their more worldly gifts. (In many cultures, this is the day when presents are shared.) To one who pays attention, the mood from the inwardness to worldliness always changes on New Year’s Day, halfway through the twelve days. January 6 is also called the day of Epiphany, the day when Jesus, at age 30, was baptized in the river Jordan and began to embody the spirit of the Christ-Logos in himself.
If we are able to cultivate a special spiritual practice during these twelve days and nights, we can experience them as a journey that feels somehow “lifted out of time.” It is felt that the formative forces of the spiritual beings who have made our existence stand guard over us in this season, holding a space free for our growth. If we choose to look deeply, the demands of daily life can fade into the background, leaving for us a free space to look for the ‘sun in the midnight hour,” the glow of the living heart forces within and around us.
Tradition holds that these 12 days may pre-visage the year to come. The first day of Christmas may be a microcosmic precursor of January: the second day of February, and so on. This happens through the doorway of the twelve signs of the zodiac, the portals through which the spiritual beings can work upon our earth. Farmers and stewards of the land watch these days to gain an inkling of what the weather might be in these months. Superstition? or fact? It may be tested to find out. Those who dream make a special practice of noticing their dreams in those nights, and possibly catch a vision of what dynamic will play out in the months to come.
THE TWELVE SIGNS THROUGH EURYTHMY
Through the journey of eurythmy, we can consciously approach the beings and powers of the constellations through meditatively and eurythmically engaging with the twelve signs of the zodiac. In this sense, I invite you now to look back over the twelve free lessons that I created for you over the course of the past year. Each lesson is a deep meditative picture of the unique power of each sign of the zodiac. You can read the essay that I wrote and you can watch the video I recorded and learn how to move the gesture and the sound that belongs to each sign of the zodiac. It would be a wonderful practice to begin with Capricorn on the first day of Christmas, and continue through the 12 signs of the year, working with one sign each day. If possible, live with the imprint of that sign in your work and your study and your art. With these words, I send you my heartfelt Christmas greetings. I wish you joy, and beauty, and peace, and fellowship, even as I also hope you will find the way to open your heart deeply to the love that is looking for you. Here are the links to the studies and the videos for each day: PLEASE NOTE: IF ANY OF THESE VIDEOS DO NOT PLAY FOR YOU, THEY CAN ALL BE FOUND ON MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL, “CYNTHIA HOVEN” PROLOGUE:https://eurythmyonline.com/gods-of-the-word-and-the-zodiac-prologue/ ARIES: https://eurythmyonline.com/aries/ https://eurythmy-online.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Aires.mp4
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.
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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” Sound: M Element: Fixed Air
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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.