Now the twilight of the year
Comes, and Christmas draweth near.
See, across the Advent sky
How the clouds move slowly by.
Earth is waiting, wrapped in sleep,
Waiting in a slumber deep.
Waiting for the Christmas birth,
The birth that blesses Heaven and Earth.
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:
Tropical dates: Oct. 21-Nov. 19
Sidereal dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 15
Color: “Peach-blossom Violet
Element: Fixed Water
Libra, the Scales
Libra and the Spirit of Natura
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
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.
Click on this link to watch the video for Virgo: https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Virgo.mp4
Color: indigo, deep blue
Sound: B and P
Element of Sound: Earth
In the body: Metabolism
To watch the video for Leo, follow this link: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/eurythmy-online/Leo.mp4
Leo, the Sign of Cosmic Will
“Stream through with senses’ power!”
Sidereal dates: 8/17-9//16 Tropical dates: 7/21-8/20
To enter the world of Leo, the sign of the Lion, we can begin by looking back to the beginning of time, back to the very beginning of Creation. Esoteric teachings tell us that the world was created from the God-source, through the self-sacrificing gift of lofty spiritual beings known as the “Thrones.” In devotional contemplation of the Creator, they gave away the gift of their own Will-substance, so that upon its foundation, the thoughts of the Creator could become manifest.
The foundation that they offered was Will, the very essence of their being, which was revealed as pure spirit-warmth. This original, inner spirit-warmth then became externally manifest as World Warmth. And at its core there arose the Heart of the Universe.
From that first beginning, the universe began its evolution. Each stage that followed became more complex, more differentiated. And in evolving through time and space, the original heat became spiritually “cooler,” less vital and alive, more material.
At the periphery of the expanding universe there arose the world of the Senses, the perfect macrocosmic mirror of the original thoughts of the Creator.
The sign of Leo represents in our current universe the sphere of influence of the Thrones. From Leo, there still stream the spiritual forces that create in fire, that culminate in matter. Leo in us speaks of both the living spirit-fire and of the world of the senses, which arose.
Leo and the Human Heart
We human beings are the inheritors of this whole cycle of evolution. We are spiritual beings, living in the world of the senses even as we carry the original spark of spiritual fire in our human heart. The zodiacal sign Leo, the sign of the Lion, demonstrates more clearly than any other sign that, as human beings, we are BOTH center and periphery, both earth and cosmos.
Have we eve sufficiently pondered on the spiritual significance of our warm-blooded nature? Do we realize that this is more than a merely physical phenomenon?
Spirit lives within us, as the fire of creative energy, centered in our heart and pulsing through our blood. And we live in spirit, in the created world of the senses that we take into ourselves as food, and that we affect through our deeds.
The human heart is so much more than what we picture as the four-chambered organ in the chest. We must think of the warm blood that courses through the acres of blood vessels within us, ever touching our inner organs, touching our skin, touching our sense organs, warming our deeds, and then returning to our heart to be rejuvenated by our breath. Warmth, the gift of the world creator, pulses through our blood and enables our spirit to connect itself to matter. Here dwells the power of creative love that can change the world. Here lives the power through that gives birth to the future, through our deeds.
The warm blood of our heart is the bearer of the spirit-ego within us. We plunge into this warmth as spirit beings, “drown” in the blood of substance, and through it touch into the whole world of substance. Through the fire-force of the ego active in the metabolism, we destroy the matter that we eat. Out of its “ashes” in our digestion, we build anew our own inner human substance.
Leo thus reveals the power of the human heart within and also the world of the senses that surround us. We are original spirit fire-beings, living in the enchanted world of Maya, and through the pulsation of our hearts we are connected to both.
The Eurythmy Gesture for Leo
The spiritual attribute of Leo is known as “flaming enthusiasm.” We can feel this embodied when we do the eurythmy gesture for Leo. Before we even begin the movement, we must feel the power of the enthusiastic heart. We feel its longing to taste and touch and engage with the world. Lion-like, we feel our heart forces expand, sending their rays outward, sun-like. The outstretched arms reach into the periphery like spirit-tentacles: their energy goes far beyond our fingertips, and we feel connected to the entire created world that surrounds us.
The Sounds of Leo: T and D
The sign Leo is the home for two consonants: T and D.
The sound T is one of the strongest of all consonants, summoning the power of the universe and focusing it to deliver a strong impact in a single, chosen point. It embodies the power of a bolt of lightning. When we move its power with a eurythmy gesture, we first gather all the power of the surrounding, as we create the largest possible gesture from right and left, below and above. Our fingertips then strike our head at the crown chakra, and the lightning-power of the T through the entire body. Its power is gathered up in the heart, supporting the warmth of our human blood, that sacred substance that is the vessel for the ego in the body.
In the microcosm of the human body, original divine power lives in fire of our blood. By virtue of this fire, the most spiritual of the four elements, our spirit is able to unite with the material world for the duration of our lives. This fire lives in our will, and warms our deeds. It lives in our digestion, and gives us the capacity to digest the material of our food, breaking it down and then building up the cells we need according to our human archetype.
“Saturn’s cosmic fire is maintained in the blood’s warmth, giving the ego its present footing. In that the blood decomposes to gall in the liver, the ego confronts the world directly, as ingested nutriment, with the T-energy, throws itself with cosmic fire-force in the path of matter, breaks down matter in the metabolic process, and creates its own warmth by transforming every substance back into heat. The warmth spent outwardly is continuously regenerated from within.” Dr. H. Erasmy, Cosmic and Earthly Evolution p. 114
The partner sound of Leo is the D, a duller, unvoiced impact sound. This is the perfect complement to T, for it shows how the fire-force of creation has shone out from the “cosmic sun,” streaming to the very periphery of the world. In so doing, the cosmic creative force has become manifest outwardly. What has it created? Nothing less than the entirety of the world of the senses! Thus, the meditative picture for Leo includes the words “Stream-through with senses might.”
Leo and the Activity of Transformation
When we can enliven these words in our hearts, we can feel the absolute beauty of our human condition. The world of the senses that surrounds us as a Macrocosm is the perfect complement to the sacred Microcosm that lives within us. Macrocosmic Yang and microcosmic Yin are woven together. It is the human heart that holds the key to the middle, the balance between center and periphery, contraction and expansion.
We, as human beings, are only now waking up to the miracle of our existence. We feel the warmth of spirit in the blood-warmth of our hearts. We perceive the created world through the myriad doors of our many sense organs.
Our awakened heart can look into the world: there we see the forces that have made us. And we can look into our hearts, and see the forces that have made the world.
It is then our task, as human beings, to transform that God-given fire that blazes in our heart. Creation has made a “detour” through the human heart, in that we have been inserted with our physical organism into this earth process. What is significant here is what our souls will do with the warmth of the blood.
When we develop true, heart-felt interest in all beings, we link ourselves with all aspects of earth existence. What our souls harvest as living interest will be carried with us through many incarnations as the fire of the spirit.
And doing so, we evolve to be able to take our own place in existence, as earthly-cosmic beings of love.
The Spiritual Power of the Heart
Sometimes it is only in times of duress that we become aware of the majesty of our human condition. I will conclude with statements made by Russian prisoners quoted by Solzhenitsyn in his work Forum 3, Ref.:
“A tremendous power is alive in us….The whole universe is mysteriously bound up with our soul’s depths. Each one of us is the center of the universe….A mysterious inner warmth that seems to us to come from another world keeps us from freezing in the glacial cold….In the innermost depths of the human soul there lies an inexplicable power stronger—empirically, not just symbolically speaking—than all the external forces of suppression and destruction…Anyone who tries to save his life is doomed and brings to naught what his inner voice is trying to help him achieve. But we possess the freedom to decide. “
Click on this link to watch the video for Leo: https://eurythmyonline.com/leo-the-lion-the…wer-of-the-heart/
Sounds: T and D
Element of Sounds: Earth
This is the Eurythmy gesture for Cancer. To watch the video follow this link:
https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Cancer.mp4 (in this video, student Karen G. is demonstrating the movements)
CANCER, THE CRAB
“Thou resting gleam of light!”
Sidereal Dates: July 17-August 16 Tropical Dates June 20-July 21
Cultural Epoch: Ancient India
The glyph used to signify Cancer in astrology is the sign of two interlocking spirals. Resembling the dynamic form of galaxies, Cancer bears the image of “in-volution and e-volution.” It shows the forces of the periphery spiraling inwards together to create a central point, and the answering movement from the center to create a new universe.
The significant central point of the double-spiral lies between the two curling shapes, where a space of emptiness arises. The in-winding spiral speaks of the path of the soul’s incarnation into matter. There, in the free space of “emptiness,” the ego is born in, in fire and in light. It then flames forth with the second, outwinding spiral.
Cancer speaks thus of the inmost home of the spirit.
Ancient India as a Cultural Epoch
To understand the spiritual age that bears the sign of Cancer, we must look backwards in time, to what is known esoterically as the age of Ancient India, when the sun at the Spring Equinox (March 21) was in Cancer. This takes us back to (approximately) 7227 BCE, at the dawn of civilization.
In the ages even before this, spiritual science teaches that humanity was not yet a rational, fully material being. Human beings, still more lightly incarnated than we are now, lived in a different relationship to the living world of the etheric. They could draw upon the living forces of nature to build a different kind of society on the earth, one which has left few traces in archeological history because it did not impact the physical world as deeply as we do now, in the age of densest materialism.
This was the phase known by many traditions as “Atlantis.” Even such a lofty philosopher as Plato taught that the age of Atlantis ended not long before this date mentioned (7227 BCE). The passing from Atlantis to the post-Atlantean epochs is marked by the “Great Flood,” stories of which appear in the legends of many ancient civilization.
Rudolf Steiner wrote that great migrations of people happened at the end of Atlantis, trekking eastward until somewhere around what is now China (possibly Tibet). From there, the seeds for a new thrust of human evolution appeared in a sequence of civilizations, working from east to west. The first of these was in Ancient India, which is known as the Age of Cancer. To be sure, this civilization peaked long before the current Indian culture. Indeed, this was long before the development of writing, of geometry and astronomy and philosophy. This was an age when humans were first “getting use to being people of the earth.” These were, perhaps, hunters and gatherers, who roamed upon the earth as nomads, accepting from her the gifts of food and shelter even while making little impact upon her.
It can be imagined that people of that cultural epoch were not interested in being attached to earthly things. To them, the earth was maya, an illusion of sensory inputs that veiled the true, spiritual nature of reality. And yet, these were the people who took the first “plunge” into the world of matter, which we know live in. They began the journey that we are on now.
In trying to picture the condition of these early people, we can imagine how much needed to be accomplished in order that we could become the upright, thinking-feeling-and willing people that we are now. Perhaps one can imagine that these people of Ancient India were like a new-born infant is today, needing to find a way to connect their spiritual selves to their life-forces and thus to their new little bodies. So did these early humans need to activate in themselves their etheric (qi) forces, so they could grow, metabolize, excrete, reproduce. Life was the experience of connecting oneself with matter, penetrating it, an then letting it fall away at the time of death. And because life was an illusion, so also was death a mere passage, through a doorway and on to another dimension.
This is the picture symbolized in the glyph for Cancer. The free space in the middle of the two spirals signifies the descent of spirit into matter, its self-realization, and its eventual ascent into spirit.
Cancer in the Body: The Ribcage
As we have seen in previous essays, the human body bears the imprint of the 12 signs of the zodiac in its different parts. Thus, Aries forces have shaped the head; Taurus forces have been concentrated at the neck to create the forces of speech; Gemini forces have created bilateral symmetry below the neck..
We find Cancer forces one step lower. There, below the shoulders, is the chest. There, in the central part of the spinal column, are the twelve thoracic vertebrae, from which extend the twelve ribs that curl around to the front of the body. The upper rib-pairs converge in the center of the chest to meet in the sternum, a breastplate protecting the heart. The lower ribs do not extend as far forwards: they hold the space for the lungs, and frame the solar plexus.
It is significant to notice that the chest is encased in a solid mass of bones: bones alternate with free spaces, creating both form and freedom of movement.
This is the home of the rhythmic system. In anthroposophical medicine, we attribute tremendous importance to this middle realm of the human being, as it constantly mediates between fixed and freed forms. The fixed forms are exemplified in the hard shell of the skull, while limbs manifest freedom of movement so we can act and create. Head forces are centripetal: limb forces are centrifugal.
The bones of the ribs, fixed and freed, surround the vital organs of rhythm—heart and lungs. These two organ systems, in a never-ceasing dynamic interplay, alternate between contraction and expansion.. In rhythmic interaction, these two organs pulse throughout the days and years of our lives. Here we find the domain of Cancer, where we breathe the world into ourselves, and release it back to the world.
Inhaling, we take the world into ourselves. We warm it with our blood, and are nurtured and enlivened by it. As it streams through our body, it penetrates into our physical-etheric essence, and we imprint ourselves onto the air. Exhaling, we return our own essence to the world, where it merges with the astral essence of countless other beings. Truly, we are in most intimate contact with the world through the air we breathe, which has been breathed by billions of other people over the course of untold time. The breath has been imprinted by the presence of others, and flowed back into the world. It is taken up into the world of nature, and there healed and re-enlivened by the plant world. The air-element, bearer of world-astrality, connects us all.
Through spiritual science, we learn that by the end of the Atlantean period, humanity was poised to take its next step of development. This would be created by strengthening the rhythmic system, where the forces of love and understanding were to be cultivated. There, in the dynamic middle between form and movement, the human can find the fulcrum point of freedom.
Cancer and Eurythmy
The eurythmy gesture for Cancer perfectly indicates the strength of the chest, and the rhythmic organs of breath and blood.
To begin, stand quietly and feel your breath. Imagine that in the center of your chest there shines a quiet, sacred space. Neither full, nor empty, it is the quiet at the center of the storm.
Lift your arms to the sides, into the etheric space around your chest—not above your shoulders—and imagine a clockwise rotating spiral around you. Let your left arm curl in front of you, and rest it lightly on your chest, while you let your right arm curl behind you and rest it (palm facing out, if possible) on your back. Feel the connection between the movements of both arms the whole time.
Becoming aware of the sacred space within you, awaken the dim consciousness of your breath in harmony with rhythms of the world.
The sound that corresponds to Cancer is “F.”
When we create F in eurythmy, we feel the power of fire in us, and send it out into the world on the wings of the air element. We pull our arms back, and draw power from the invisible world behind us. This can also feel as if we are pulling the string of a bow backwards, preparing to let an arrow fly. Then the tension releases, and we send a fiery arrow flying forwards. We often let the “flying arrow” pulse two or three times as it shoots forward.
As the power of the fire flies, we feel the spirit flame in our own heart and lungs: fire and air unite.
Rudolf Steiner presented a powerful picture for the sound F. There must have been a time in the distant past when humans first began to be conscious of their own consciousness. The initiates, great teachers of humanity, were the first to realize the power of mind, and they taught their students that they, too, needed to learn to think. Furthermore, this thinking needs to rise not only from the head, but also from the heart.
With the power of F, the teacher showed to their students: “Know, that I know.” “Become aware that the human being carried the fire of knowledge in their heart and lungs: be aware of this in all your deeds.”
Element of Sound: Fire
This is the eurythmy gesture for Gemini.
Click on the link to see the video: https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Gemini.mp4
Open out, thou sun existence!
Sidereal Dates: June 15-July 16 Tropical Dates May 21-June 20
Cultural Epoch: Ancient Persia
Here in the northern hemisphere, the sun is fast approaching the highest point of its trajectory. In springtime, the chariot of Apollo rushed forth from the gates of the east, and it ascends to the heights at midsummer, cresting in front of the twin stars of Gemini, who mark the zenith point of the heavens.
The Sign of Polarities
Every extreme invokes its complement, its opposite. So, too, does bright Gemini call forth the awareness not only of the heights, but also of the depths of darkness that reign at midwinter, under the rulership of Sagittarius. Castor and Pollux, the twins of Gemini, speak of the power of dualism, of a world unity ripped asunder and a cosmic schism made manifest.
The First Division
The story of creation begins as the Source of All, the TAO, the Godhead (under the signature of Aries) was a unified field, self-contained yet pregnant with future. Then the Word of Creation (Taurus) is prepared, and the play begins.
With Gemini, the fundamental cosmic dualities appear:
— The Word creates the first dialog, even as the Speaker creates the Listener.
— No longer singular, inner and outer are created.
—Light ascends and darkness descends.
—Pure spirit hovers in the heights, even as the world of matter coagulates as a counter-pole.
How can these dualities be reconciled? The true power of Gemini lies in being able to endure the schism, and become active in the tension between the two. This is made manifest in the eurythmy gesture for Gemini.
The Ancient Persian Epoch
Each of the 2160 years of a cultural epoch lies under the rulership of a different sign of the zodiac. Even as the coming age will be the “Age of Aquarius,” and the present age is (still) the “Age of Pisces,” so the “Age of Gemini” was the age when the Spring Equinox stood in Gemini (5067-2907 BCE).
In this age, the dominant mythology taught of the great duality between the Spirit of the Sun (Ahura Mazdao) and his great adversary, the spirit of darkness. The great spiritual teacher, Zarathustra, taught that the human soul will be the actual battleground where the battle between light and darkness will ultimately occur.
It was also the people of ancient Persia who practiced agriculture with almost ritualistic reverence. They pierced the virgin soil of mother Earth with a sickle, allowing the forces of the sun to penetrate into the darkness below. The primal gesture of agriculture works with light and darkness. Thus the mother-forces of the soil could be coaxed to bring forth crops. This enabled culture to take a tremendous step forward.
Gemini in the Body: Symmetry
As we have seen in previous essays, the human body bears the imprint of the 12 signs of the zodiac in its different parts. Thus, Aries forces have shaped the head, and Taurus forces have been concentrated at the neck to create the forces of speech.
We look for Gemini forces one step lower. There, below the throat, the two arms show us a new principle: bilateral symmetry. There, where we clearly have two limbs freed into right and left sides, we are empowered to move in the field of dualism. (Obviously, the principle of Gemini is also present in the power of two eyes, two ears, etc. but the dualism is nowhere as clear as in the image of two arms and two legs.) We are invited to explore the complementary nature of right and left, dominant and receptive, masculine and feminine, etc.
And this, of course, leads us directly into the exploration of the personality type commonly attributed to those whose Sun sign was in Gemini at birth. These are considered to be the archetypal sanguine personality types. They are light as air, mercurial, changeable. They are interested in so many things that they may appear to flutter through life as veritable butterflies, who stop at each flower only long enough to savor its juices before moving on! They seem to rejoice in polarities: they want to explore every phenomenon they can, and no one can pin them down.
Gemini and Eurythmy
To create the gesture for Gemini, you must learn to embody the tension of the dualities and the power to unite them. You can imagine yourself standing on the deck of a ship in a storm-tossed sea, and place your feet apart, showing the power of Gemini, two-sides, in the wide stance of your legs. Curl your hands into fists, raise your arms to shoulder height, and bend them at the elbows, crossing your right hand over your left. With your arms you have overcome the schism by bringing right and left into balance. In this gesture, deepen yourself into the feeling of separation and unity.
The sound of gesture is “H,” which, to anyone familiar with the gesture, seems obvious. “H” is created by simply opening the muscles at the back of the throat and exhaling a “puff” of breath. In this spirit, we can understand that in some languages, such as Sanskrit, “H” is considered the first of all sounds, the first opening, the first utterance. The exhaled air flies forth into the lightness, there to dissolve even as cloud vapor does. Alternately, “H” can also be strengthened by pushing against the air with more force and then controlling its speed and distance: in this case, “H” can come to an abrupt stop, as if the lightness of air has collided with rock.
The gesture for “H,” correspondingly, begins by focusing attention on the root of the arms, the shoulder blades, which are similarly the equivalent of the larynx. The shoulder blades are pulled together with a small tension, which allows the arms to be flung open, right and left, even as the exhaled air is flung out. The eurythmist allows the freeing movement to continue from the shoulders, through the arms, to the fingers and beyond. The doorways are opened: creation can begin.
Alternately, the “H” can be done with an inward-going movement, bringing movement from the wide periphery back towards the body. This movement emphasizes the consolidating aspect of creation.
In this spirit, the meaning of the Eurythmy gesture for Gemini and the corresponding sound that it has gifted us are clear.
A final imagination for H, articulated by Dr. Hedwig Erasmy, is that “H” is best characterized by Hercules, the demigod who swings his mighty club upwards and downwards, freeing and consolidating forces as he strides through the heavenly circle of the zodiac.
Taurus, the Bull
O shining being, become brightness!
Sidereal dates: May 15-June 14 Tropical dates: April 21-May 20
Color: orange Element: Earth Sound: R
Taurus is an earth sign, signifying the power of cosmic forces now grounded on the earth.
Its color is orange, a color that bears both red (Aries) and yellow (Gemini) forces. The orange of Taurus is bold and generous, expansive and active. It creates vigor, movement and vitality.
Whereas Aries forces have created our head, Taurus forces have created the throat, and, most notably, the larynx. Aries is the cosmic word: Taurus is the word that has been entrusted to humanity, our capacity to speak about the world and to speak about our inner selves. Along with this, it represents all of the body forces below the head that are engaged in movement and activity. In short, Taurus has gifted us our human will.
This is the eurythmy gesture for Taurus. Scroll down to find the link for the video showing how to create the gesture and the sound.
Taurus as a spiritual force
In the deepest past, before time, before space, there was only the Creator, pure being.
All beings that developed in time were included in the first Creator being. This includes seraphim and cherubim, archangels and angels, planetary beings and elemental beings, and all other beings who would develop in the course of evolution.
The human being is still an immature being, from the cosmic perspective. For a long time, we lived in the womb of the hierarchies, as their soul. As evolution proceeded, humans began to awaken, to grow, to become spiritually independent. We are still in our infancy: we have been given the possibility of evolving to become fully aware, divine beings even here in this world of matter. The next steps are up to us.
As humans evolved, there were four great cosmic archetypes that guided our destiny. These are represented in the zodiac by four special zodiac signs, the so-called “fixed signs” that are the center points of the spring, summer, autumn and winter constellations. These are known as the “four beasts”: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. These have provided the archetypes for four primary qualities of the human being.
Taurus, the bull, is the second sign in the zodiacal circle is Taurus. Long ago, when the spring equinox stood in Taurus, the Egyptian-Chaldean culture was in its ascendency. The initiate teachers who guided humanity’s spiritual development prodded people’s development by presenting them with the image of the Sphinx. This magnificent being presented them with the question: “what is the difference between the human being and the animals?” Thus there arose the image of the Sphinx. This was the true image of the human being at the beginning of the age of Taurus: the beautiful beast with the Angel-like countenance, the wings of the eagle, the body of the lion. The Sphinx asks silently: what part of you is human? What is winged? What is beast?
The archetypes for the human soul was imprinted in the so-called “four beasts” of the zodiac.
Through Taurus, we receive our capacity for Willing.
Through Leo, the capacity for Feeling.
Through Scorpio, the capacity for Thinking.
And through Aquarius, the harmonious interweaving of the three, which lead us to our true humanity.
Taurus is the sign that engages us to respond to the world we meet through the senses.
Our Taurean will manifests in our digestion, in our limb activity, and in our speech.
This was the riddle of the Sphinx: how are we related to the animals, and how are we different?
This was the key task of the Egyptian-Chaldean epoch: how can we develop the right relationship to the enchanting, entrancing, glittering world of appearance, the sensory world around us? Likewise, how can we move and act in this world of matter?
The hallmark of the astral body it that it can move. In sensing, it moves towards things, into them, around them. In action, it enables us to reach into the world through our limbs and our metabolism.
And, most importantly, it enables us to be active in our throats by producing speech.
Even as Aries rules the human head, Taurus rules the throat, the larynx, and our capacity to speak. That which we hold quiet in the stately head as it rests on our shoulders is freed for activity from the neck downwards. There we find the organs of breathing, and the organs of digestion and movement. Great activity rules in the lower body, and we fulfill our earthly destinies through action.
Taurus as the ruler of speech
In speaking to eurythmists, Rudolf Steiner described the larynx as the “head of the lower body.” The elaborately formed cartilage and muscles of the larynx stop the flow of air from its normal course when we speak. Instead, these muscles sculpt and shape the air into the magnificent micro-movements that create all the different sounds of language. Into these shapes, we send the warmth of our heart with our exhaled air, and the thoughts of our minds with the meaning we impress on our shapes. Truly, the act of speaking creates an entire microcosmic world of activity, a universe of action no less significant than the actions we undertake with our limbs!
This is Taurus activity: the forces of the still head are freed, downwards, and the will is engaged. Through the element of air, movement ensues in the metabolism and in the limbs. We become earth citizens!
Thus, Taurus is both the creator of our Will, manifesting in Deeds, and also specifically of our Speech.
In our speaking, the forces of movement rise again from the lower body, and control the fine muscles and structure of the larynx. Onto the exhaled air, we imprint the formative forces that have made the world and made us, the inner zodiac that we carry within us.
The sound of Taurus: R
R is the sound that is attributed to Taurus. It is the sound of air, freed into movement. With R, we experience how the breath of the Creator lives in the element of air as it permeates the world and creates dynamic and changing relationships. Its movement turns things inside out and upside down, causing reversals and inversions. Nothing can withstand its dynamic force; neither that which is fiery or fluid, nor even that which is hardened and brittle.
R is an irresistible yellow wind that surrounds the glowing red of fire. Through R, we are released from the old of winter, and prepared for the new. R lifts us out of sedentary states and sweeps us along, as the wind tosses tumbleweed or whips through the trees. We are filled with the vibrant joy of movement.
We create the archetypal movement of the R in eurythmy by circling our arms with free, “yellow” energy in circles, which seemingly could go on and on forever.
Click on the link to see the video: Taurus and the sound R
The deep mythology of Taurus
Dating from nearly four thousand years ago, numerous mythologies have been built around the worship of the sacred bull. This powerful beast was often seen as the embodiment of a god, as the given of life.
In ancient Indo-Iranian mythology, Mithras was called the god of light. The first written mention of Mithras in the Sanskrit Vedas dates back to 1400B. The mythology of Mithras spread from India in the east, through Persia, to the west, and was widely popular amongst the Romans in the 3rd and 4th century A.D.
According to myth, Mithras was born bearing a torch and armed with a knife, beside a sacred stream and under a sacred tree, a child of the earth itself. As he grew, he was able to mount the bull and ride it through the heavens, the Man who learned to perceive the entire zodiac out of which he was born. This is the image of the human being beginning to find his way upon the earth.
Mithras then sacrificed the life-giving cosmic bull, plunging its sword into its neck, and its sacred blood fertilizes all vegetation.
How shall we understand this image? The Man-god who rode on the bull represents the human being who rides on his own lower nature. We are to learn to know the sense world, and ennoble ourselves thereby. We are to raising our human heart to become an organ of perception, so that we can in time attain certain levels of clear consciousness.
The sacrifice of the bull means that cosmic formative forces are now available on the earth, blessing the etheric mantle of nature and of the human being.
Aries, the Ram
Arise, o shining light!
Aries is a fire sign. It carries the impulse of fresh, new, fiery beginnings.
Its color is red, a passionate, vivid color that embodies the fire-force of new beginnings. We embody Aries forces when we create out of our own center, when we speak our own Word of truth, when we create radiant thoughts through our spiritual activity.
In the human being, Aries forces have created our head. The sounds belonging to Aries are W and V. It is deeply significant that Rudolf Steiner describes how these sounds were the last sounds that he was able to “discover” in the lexicon of Eurythmy. These are the sounds of the Beginning, and the forces of darkness veiled them from him.
This is the eurythmy gesture for the sign Aries. Scroll down to find the link to the video showing the gesture and the sound.
Aries as a Spiritual Force
As the first sign of the zodiacal circle, Aries represents the opening of the book of creation, the first Word of the Creator. As the Word flowed forth from the mind of God, the speaking itself became a God, and through the living Word, the world began. The name of this living Word is known to esoteric Christians as Christ.
Let’s dive deeper: imagine how, before the beginning (an impossible thought!), there was no time, no space. The ineffable Creator was a self-contained world: all was “enclosed” in a Mind, un-perceivable because un-manifest.
Imagine: for reasons that only philosophers and poets can guess at, the Creator chose to “turn Himself inside out.” That is to say: S/He allowed what was in Mind turn into manifestation. I can imagine the still fire that lived inside of Mind, beginning to turn into visible flame: I can imagine some spiritual door “opening” and the fire beginning to pour outward. Everything that flowed was of the nature of the Creator, its pure manifestation. This was the Word itself, speaking the world into existence, and through its activity, time and space and all Being came into existence.
And that which was created was now flowing out of the Creator. Outside and inside were created, and what was “outside” became the listener, the beholder of the world. Thus began the first conversation, the dialog between the Creator and the Created. The act of Creating weaves between the two.
The energy of the Creating Word flows through all Creation. I can imagine it as a flood of water pouring forth abundantly, shaping the world even as it came into being, creating the outlines of things, becoming surface and sheathes, flowing above and below and around.
Time and space were created, as this wave flowed forth from its source as Aries manifestion. The further it flowed, the more complex it became, and the more spirit potency it relinquished. As it grew and ripened, the world became solid and formed—which is the gesture of Scorpio, the sign of death and rebirth, whom we shall meet in the fall. We must call this shaped world the “frozen word.” The entire natural world is the manifestation of the Creator’s thoughts and dreams and will. It is the Creator turned “inside out.”
We walk through the world created from Aries energy. We are born of it, we live in it, and we are learning to speak back to it.
The symbol of Aries is the lamb with its head turned backwards, looking behind. It represents that the lamb is remembering its past, where it comes from, its Creator, even as it prances into the future
Aries and its imprint on our body
There are 12 signs in the zodiac as we know it, and each sign represents one chapter of the song of Creation, beginning with Aries, the Word, and ending with Pisces, the sign of the human being and all that we may become. Taken as a whole, the zodiac provides a complete picture of Creation, and yet each sign manifests one particular aspect of the 12-faceted jewel. Thus, we have twelve months of the year, twice-twelve hours in the day, twelve cranial nerves, twelve senses (counting the somatic and the spiritual senses), twelve colors (including the five subtle “spiritual colors), twelve philosophical points of view, etc. In like manner, each sign of the zodiac is “lord” over one (or two) sounds of language, and also “lord” over “one-twelfth” of the human gestalt, one part of the body.
The forces of Aries have created the human head. The brain that is housed in the head facilitates reflected, sense-bound thinking. We stretch into the world through our sense organs, and from it received impressions. The head is nourished by the forces from the digested food that stream upwards: these are transformed into the capacity to illuminate our senses impressions and turn them into consciousness. The more refined our sense impressions, our mental images, and our memories become, the more luminous our consciousness becomes.
Have you ever become conscious of what happens when you understand a thought? How we say in English that a “light bulb lit up” in our heads? When we truly practice becoming aware of what happens as we think, we notice that the head becomes the place where reflected thinking is resurrected into light-processes, radiant thinking. Aries, the lamb of the creating Word, is redeemed in radiant consciousness processes.
The sounds of Aries: W and V
In Eurythmy, we can enter deeply into an experiential understanding of the different sounds of the zodiac. For each sign of the zodiac, we create a particular gesture with our bodies to allow that sign to come to expression. Out of this gesture there then unfolds the movement that expresses the sound that is born out of that sign.
In Aries, the gesture identifies the head as the place from which the word will grow. The gesture is created thus:
Stand quietly. Allow your thoughts to become quiet. Imagine your Mind bearing all the fullness of the world that is to become. Your head is a sphere that is quiet yet over-full with the potentiality of all that could come into being. Stretch slightly into your head, but don’t look up: feel the roundness of the back of your head. Now, lift your right hand and hold it directly in front of your sternum, with the palm facing to the left. The fingers point upwards, even as the chin sinks subtly towards them.
The sounds for Aries are the W and the V. Curiously, Rudolf Steiner tells that these were the most difficult sounds to “discover” and teach in Eurythmy, for they were, he said, the primal sounds and therefore deeply hidden from him by the forces of darkness.
To create the W, bend forwards at the waist, and lower your arms, holding them parallel to each other. You may imagine yourself to be underwater, and swimming upwards. Lift your arms, feeling the “resistance” of the water against them. An even loftier picture would be to imagine yourself as the Creator, standing within your sphere, as yet unmanifest. As you lift your arms, your lift a great curtain, open a door, and what you hold within you can flow forth. This is the power of W, the first creating.
To create the V, imagine the force of the world flowing through the world, omnipresent, bathing and blessing and covering everything with its word-nature, with its wise, sculpting, molding power. Now, standing upright, hold your hands behind your head, fingers pointing upwards. As the movement of the V begins, raise them, curving them around the fullness of the back of your head, over the top of your head, then over your forehead. Now let the V continue on into the space in front of you. Imagine it flowing forth –even as Aslan’s songs did— over hills and down into valleys, up and down and up and down. Even when you can no longer extend your physical arms, your etheric arms will continue to rise and fall as long as you imagine your song, your Word speaking into the space in front of you.
Thus we can imagine the power that was in your head, flowing into the world.
Thus we can imagine the world that was in the Mind of the Creator, flowing forth and creating All that would become.
Click on the link to see the video clip: Aries and the sounds W and V
The Deep mythology of Aries:
Spring time is the season of beginnings, and the day of the spring equinox is the first day of spring. In our present time, the Sun stands in the sign of Pisces on March 21. As a result of the so-called progression of the equinox, however, it has not always been in Pisces on that day. Over the course of more than 25,000, the spring equinox moves through the entire circle of the zodiac. Thus it is that one zodiacal sign rules the circle for about 2160 years, and marks what Rudolf Steiner called the sequence of cultural epochs. Researchers of mythologies and sacred traditions in cultures can often see that the zodiac sign that rules an age plays a very significant role in the stories of that age
Aries, the sign of the Ram was the sign that ruled what is known as the Greco-Roman age, for in that age (727 BC-1413AD), the sun was in the sign of Aries on the day of the spring equinox (March 21). We can look for the dominant Aries forces in the myth of the Golden Fleece.
The “Age of Aries” (the period when the vernal equinox occurred in Aries) corresponds to the so-called Greco-Roman period. It can begin that their story begins with the tale of the Golden Fleece.
“Phrixes and Helle were a pair of brothers who were children of a cloud goddess. They fled from their step-mother on a winged ram who carried them thorugh the air and whose coat as of pure coat. Helle fell into the sea (the sensory world) at a point between Asia and Europe, symbolically marking the bridge between two important cultural epochs. Phrixes was saved, and the ram carried him to the Colchians, by the Black Sea. There he sacrificed the golden ram, and hung his golden hide—the Golden Fleece—on an oak tree in a grove dedicated to Ares, whence it shone far and wide. This fleece==sacrificed starlight—shines in nature, guarded by a dragon representing the sunken zodiac, now coild into a serpent form. This image portrays something of endless significance: the clairvoyances of bygone ages that has been sacrificed has been processed into clear thinking provided all trials originating in zodiacal forces are successfully met, the dragon overcome, our lower nature put to sleep.” (Human and Cosmic Evolution, Erasmy page 389)
When word of the fleece became known, heroes set forth to find it. A marvelous boat, the Argo, was built of the finest wood, and all the heroes of that age set forth in it to find the fleece: Orpheus, Hercules, Theseus , Peleus, and many others. Their journeys have become the stories of myth and adventures.
What is the fleece? What is the Argo?
The fleece represents the entire circle of the zodiac, the forces that the noble, radiant lamb wore as his fur as he flew across of the sky. The fact that that ram was sacrificed and his fleece was saved signifies that now the cosmic energies have are fully to be found on the earth. The fleece was hung on a tree in Asia Minor, the land of deep wisdom cultivated long ago, before the Greco-Roman age. The Argonauts were the heroes at the dawning of the new age: they sought their initiation through daring trees traveling to the ancient sources of wisdom, in the distant Orient. Returning, they could carry the fruits of the past into the west and plant the seed there for the new age that was to dawn.
Sidereal dates: April 14-May 15 Tropical dates: March 20-April 21
Color: Red Element: Fire Sound: W,V Element of sound: watery
Physical body: Head
Virtue: Devotion Spiritual Capacity: The Event
Hierarchy: The Logos Cultural Epoch: Greco-Roman
Eurythmy was given to humanity for our age, as an art form and a sacred movement that accesses the true archetypal forces of health and healing. It opens the door for a deeper understanding of the forces that have made the Earth and the Human Being. My purpose in creating this website was to make it possible for as many people as possible to access these forces, especially in this world when so much has turned away from true understanding of the spiritual world.
As part of this service, I want to bring you thoughts that will help you understand the spiritual world better. In that spirit, throughout the twelve months I will bring to you essays about the human being and the stars, and specifically the 12 signs of the zodiac.
This work has an especially deep connection to the core of Eurythmy, for in Eurythmy, we can enter deeply into an experiential understanding of the different sounds of the zodiac. For each sign of the zodiac, we create a particular gesture with our bodies to allow that sign to come to expression. Out of this gesture there then unfolds the movement that expresses the sound that is born out of that sign.
In the twelve essays I will write, I intend to give a picture about the spiritual beings who are the guardians of the zodiacal circle and the planets. I will write about how the world of Nature and the sacred human being were created from these beings. I will describe, month by month, the nature of the zodiacal sign ruling that month, and I will go into depth to explain the relationship of these signs to the consonants of language, for when we speak any sound we draw upon the forces of the zodiac. Eurythmy is the powerful doorway that allows us to understand these cosmic-earthly forces.
And as I write, I will unapologetically write about the spiritual nature of the world and the human being. I will write of our etheric, astral bodies and our divine self-consciousness, for these present our direct connection to the higher worlds. Before I write my first article, however, I would like to prepare the ground.
Allow me, then, to begin with some seed thoughts.
In our present time, the vast majority of human beings are enchanted by the power of the sense world. Our thoughts, our plans, our desires, our work are all driven by our unconscious assumption that the world operates like a huge, super-intelligent machine. From this perspective, we are merely insignificant beings struggling to survive on a small grain of sand in the universe.
We can, however, choose to look at things from a very different perspective. Then, our view of creation looks very different. In the process, I am by no means advocating that we deny science, but rather that we seek for understanding on multiple levels and not on the one-dimensional mechanistic level.
Before our dimension ever existed, the universe was already unfolding itself in other realms. As humans, we were once embedded in the hearts and minds of far greater beings, analogous to the way that we now are hosts to countless other life-forms that live within us.
Through long cycles of evolution, time and space came into being. The universe evolved from its condition of pure Being, and as Mind developed, so also did matter. It became ever cooler, ever denser, and at last solidified into a material world, operating according to mechanical laws.
At long last, in this present earth-time, humans have been “born” out of the womb of the spirits that birthed us. We have become individual beings, each of us experiencing our separateness and isolated existence. This feeling of separation is both reality and illusion, for we are evolving through our separateness towards far greater experiences of oneness.
In this existence, it will be our journey to resurrect the light of creation by becoming conscious. We, the youngest children of Creation, are the true stewards of this world we inhabit. And our challenge will be to do grow to our blessed future through loving this world of appearances, learning from it how it came into being, and treating it with devotion and care so that all of Creation takes a step forwards through our participation.
Our ability to take part in this resurrection can begin with realizing that the entire world of the senses is in fact a “frozen word.” This characterization stems from ancient mythologies and philosophies that spoke of the Creator Being as one who spoke, pouring out His/Her/Its inmost thoughts and dreams and will, and thereby creating time and space and everything that has ever become, everything that will ever be.
In this sense, we human beings could be described as being the final recipient of this Word, living in a world in which the speaking Creator is no longer experienced. It seems to the naïve modern mind that we can explain everything that we perceive through our normal senses through purely material thinking. We are dazzled, we are blinded, we are chained in this world.
There are, however, other ways to look, to think, to understand. And when we do that, we can perceive another dimension of reality “just on the other side of the physical world”. And yes, we have the capacity to experience this other dimension through becoming more sensitive for the dynamic behind the physical sense impressions.
It is this that has led modern science to begin talking about field theory, about systems, about interrelatedness. There we begin to perceive the realm of the etheric, the super-sensible life-body of the earth and of the human being. This is where we meet the ever-changing, sculpturally active forces of the word, even as we know them in eurythmy as the movements of the sounds of language.
As we begin to peel back the veil of appearances, we come to even higher realms, to the astral sphere, where we perceive the origin of the cosmic-creative thoughts that hold the archetypes, the why, what and how of all the shapes that have come into being. Finally, we enter the realm of pure being, in which he archetypes are recognized as the loftiness of spiritual beings. In eurythmy we know these archetypes as the actual beings of the different sounds, and the movements we make enable us to embody their higher will.
The number of stars appears to be infinite. The sun and the planets move, however, through a proscribed path in the starry sky. The stars that describe their circuit is known as the zodiac, and this zodiac is the external body of the archetypal forces that tell the entire story of our earth-life.
In the months to come, I will write twelve essays, one dedicated to each of the twelve signs, beginning with Aries, the Ram, the first-born of the signs.
These ideas are drawn from a lifetime of living with the study of Anthroposophy and Eurythmy, and draw extensively from the work of Rudolf Steiner.
CONTEMPLATION FOR EASTER SUNDAY
Eurythmy, the Dance of the Living Word
Take time to lovingly picture the living imaginations of this Easter story.
In the Beginning, was the Creative World-Word. The Word spoke all of existence into being, and the world was born. In speaking the Word, God turned himself “inside-out.”
In the beginning, the Word was movement, was song, was meaning. The Word was dance.
Or, as Rudolf Steiner says, the “God did eurythmy and the world came into being.”
Humanity was born into the “dancing world.” In the early ages of the, when all was life and movement, we were swept up into the dance of the universe.
Our movements were in harmony with the movements of the Word.
The temple of our body was shaped by the Word, and revealed an etheric living picture of the universe that it lived in.
Our minds did not think analytically, but responded to the world around it with a consciousness of living pictures.
And in this mind, we were dreaming the great dream of existence.
When the human being chose to “fall into matter,” beginning our journey towards cosmic independence and freedom, the Word “fell into matter” with us.
Time slowed down. The matrix of space crystallized. We became able to see everything in great detail. Like children who had left their parents’ home, we set out to find ourselves. But we lost the view of the Creator.
And so it was that the Creator chose to enter right into the heart of the matrix of time and space that we live in.
Becoming small, Creator turned himself “outside-in.”
The Word became Human, and dwelt among us.
And the Word was able to keep speaking, keep creating, even in the imprisonment of the body. Even in the imprisonment of Death.
On Easter morning, the tomb of the Word was empty.
Those soldiers guarding the tomb asked “Why do you seek the Living among the Dead?”
And Mary, the archetypal soul who came to the tomb in the early morning hours, “turned herself around,” shifting her awareness from the earth level to spirit perception.
She saw the Risen Word there in the guise of a gardener, one who tends to the life forces of the earth.
“He is made one with Nature: there is heard
His voice in all her music, from the moan
Of thunder, to the song of night’s sweet bird.”
The Risen Word is with us everywhere. Wherever we practice living thinking, we can see the etheric world around us. We can see the Word speaking through the etheric forms of all of nature. We can dis-enchant the enchanted World-Word with our gaze.
And through eurythmy we can dance once again with the World-Word. For eurythmy gives us a direct experience of the living forms and forces that stem from the Word, the living shapes that created us in our etheric form.
These have been re-enlivened, rescued in the etheric world by the deed of resurrection.
Eurythmy is the dance of the risen, living World-Word. I am forever grateful for this living etheric art, which brings health and healing to so many human beings.
Holy Week Contemplation Nr 8
Saturday: The Day Death Died
Read slowly and allow the pictures to come alive within your mind. Practice living thinking.
I have heard a beautiful story from Rudolf Steiner.
Imagine, he says, that you were looking at the Earth from the far distances of space.
Imagine that you had been doing this for long long ages of time.
For, he says, there came one moment when you could see something astonishing.
Suddenly, the earth began to glow. To shine. To radiate light out into space.
The light that it sent out was no reflected light, such as the moon sends sunlight back into space.
This light came from within the earth itself.
This, he says, is what happened at Easter.
At the moment when the blood of Christ fell from his body into the earth, the earth received a substance unlike any other, the blood of spirit-man, God-human, divine-earthly. This blood was holy wine for the earth.
Legends also tell us that when the body of Christ-Jesus was laid into the grave, earthquake tremors shook the earth. The earth opened its own body to take the body deeply into itself. This body was holy bread for the earth.
Through his sacrificial death, Christ offered Holy Communion to the earth.
The soul of Christ then entered with His body and blood deep into the earth. There the seed force of His soul burst forth from the seed with spirit light, shining in the core of the earth.
We human beings were created to be citizens of both worlds: of the heaven and of the earth. Or perhaps to say it better: when we were created, both worlds were still one. But as the earth-world became more solid and as we human beings became more enmeshed in it, the spiritual world faced the very real danger of losing the human race to materialism.
When they die, human beings who have not cultivated a relationship to the spiritual world while on the earth face the very real danger of not being able to find their way in the land of spirit. They face the danger of dying not only in body, but also in consciousness.
Our consciousness has relevance not only for ourselves, but also for the spiritual world. Dead thoughts rely heavily on material processes and the brain, but living thinking can access the spiritual world. Living thinking can build the bridge to the spirit even while we are living on earth.
But the more people turn away from the spirit, the less they can access higher world, and the fewer the forces of spirit rejuvenation the earth has access to. This sets the stage for a continuing cycle of cosmic-earthly devolution.
Christ, the creating spirit of both worlds, bridges spirit and matter. With the force of a spiritual sun, his gift of light, love and life to the world returns life forces to the earth, and shines in the spiritual world for all people, whether living in body or not.
It is said that the new Sunrise of Easter already occurred deep in the center of the earth on Holy Saturday. There the new day dawned for those human souls who had previously not been able to find their way back to spirit.
The creating Spirit-Sun united itself with the earth, offering to the earth its seed forces for the future evolution.
The death of matter has been overcome. The resurrection of the human race in the realm of the etheric forces has begun.
Can we awaken in ourselves the capacity for love and living consciousness? Can we participate in the new future?