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Living in Crisis in China

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.

The Three Kings

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What star will inspire your journey this year?

The Three Kings  
“Hearts must now learn to think”

   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

 

 

 

What star will inspire your journey this year?

The Twelve Holy Nights

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!

christmas-2871064_1920 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
 TAURUShttps://eurythmyonline.com/taurus-the-bull/
https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Taurus.mp4
GEMINI: https://eurythmyonline.com/gemini-and-the-t…ncing-polarities/
https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Gemini.mp4
CANCER: https://eurythmyonline.com/cancer-the-crab/
 https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Cancer.mp4
LEO: https://eurythmyonline.com/leo-the-lion-the…wer-of-the-heart/
https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Leo.mp4
VIRGO: https://eurythmyonline.com/virgo-the-divine-feminine/
https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Virgo.mp4
LIBRA: https://eurythmyonline.com/libra-the-scales/
https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Libra.mp4
SCORPIO: https://eurythmyonline.com/scorpio-the-sign…and-resurrection/
https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Scorpio.mp4
SAGITTARIUS: https://eurythmyonline.com/sagittarius-the-archer/
https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Sagittarius.mp4
CAPRICORN: https://eurythmyonline.com/capricorn/
https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Capricorn.mp4
AQUARIUS: https://eurythmyonline.com/aquarius/
https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Aquarius.mp4
PISCES: ttps://eurythmyonline.com/pisces-the-sign-of-the-human-being/
https://eurythmy-online.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Pisces.mp4
 

EurythmyAlive in Asia 2019

EurythmyAlive in Asia  Spring 2019

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.

 

Chinese Mythology

            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.

Looking Ahead

            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.

            If you would like to invite a eurythmyalive program to your community, contact me at Cynthia@eurythmyonline.com.

            Follow these links to watch short videos of the EurythmyAlive student work from my recent workshops in Taiwan, Chengdu, and Shanghai:

Beethoven in Taiwan: https://youtu.be/URK5ITLt_y4

Bagatelle in Chengdu:  https://youtu.be/s-UOvkhbUY4

LittleBird in Shanghai: https://youtu.be/gyT7xWHKx98

I Live my Life in Shanghai: https://youtu.be/YLOMZPdKnHA

Taiwanese Tea Ceremony

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.”

 

CAPRICORN

CAPRICORN, THE SEA-GOAT

FROM THE SEED FORCES OF THE DYING WORLD, THE FUTURE WILL BE BORN

Capricorn

“The future rests upon the past”

This is the eurythmy gesture for Capricorn. To see the video, click here: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/eurythmy-online/Capricorn.mp4   or here: Capricorn—https://youtu.be/7nRHX92eNB8
 

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.

Tropical dates: Dec. 20-Jan. 20
Sidereal dates: Jan. 14 -Feb. 12 
Color: ” Peach-Blossom”
Sound: L
Element: Cardinal Earth


 
https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/eurythmy-online/Capricorn.mp4
 or here: Capricorn—https://youtu.be/7nRHX92eNB8
 

The Stillness On Christmas Eve

CHRISTMAS EVE

            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.

Sagittarius, the Archer

Sagittarius

 

Sagittarius, the Archer

To watch the video for Sagittarius, go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/eurythmy-online/Sagittarius.mp4 –or—        https://youtu.be/E3gEglT0MQY

The sign of Sagittarius represents the Archer, aiming his arrow towards the future. The archer is sometimes shown riding a mighty horse, and sometimes depicted as a Centaur, a mythological creature with the body of a horse and the head and trunk of a human being. Shooting his arrow, Sagittarius rides on the powerful natural wisdom of the Horse. Traveling the night sky to traverse the places of darkness, he aims for the future. He foretells the emergence of the new human being, bearer of a new divine self-awareness.

            Chiron, the greatest of the centaurs of the Greek age, presents the archetype of the Archer as Teacher. Chiron was the tutor of the man-hero Hercules, who was assigned twelve challenges to accomplish, a journey which would take him through the twelve signs of the zodiac. Chiron, out of his nature-wisdom, taught Hercules how to successfully complete his twelve tasks, to become the great legendary hero. Drawing upon this image, we can imagine that we are all on our individual Herculean journey, completing our own twelve tasks in our evolving journey of becoming.

            The archer who sits upon the horse thus represents the evolving human being. We are on the process of developing a new awareness, evolving beyond the harmonious but incomplete consciousness of the animal kingdom, striving to develop the divine self-awareness of a Human Being.

The Midnight Sun

            The sign of Sagittarius rules the winter solstice, the time of the longest night and shortest day of the year. Seen from the northern hemisphere, it sits low upon the horizon. This means that when the sun stands in the sign of Sagittarius, it traces a low arc across the sky, never rising high enough to brighten our days or warm the earth. As the dark time of the year approaches, a mood of mystery pervades all. This is the season when the outer sun of the natural world has faded, and the inner sun can grow strong within us.

            Since ancient times, mystery schools have spoken of the “outer sun” and the “inner sun.” The outer sun is at its peak when the sun stands in Gemini at the summer solstice. It teaches us the outer mysteries of creation by filling us with the bounty of sense impressions. The inner sun of the winter speaks to us from depths of our soul, teaching us the inner mystery of creation through the awakening of our inner life. In traversing the cycle of the year again and again, we learn how the inner and the outer are actually two sides of the same, divine mystery.

            Summer enlightenment is a gift: winter enlightenment comes to the person who can cultivate the inner spaces of the heart and mind and become aware of the divine that is waiting to be born in us, shining as the sun at the midnight hour.

            Many ancient megalithic people positioned standing stones or temples of stone to create sacred places in the landscape. Often, the were positioned them at a precise angle so that the sun would shine upon them at the equinoxes or the solstices. These were considered the sacred times of the year.

            We can imagine that the ancient ones feared the dark time of the year. We can imagine that they could not feel the certainty that we have that the sun would re-appear and bring a new summer to earth. In some ancient initiation rites, the priest, or spiritual leader, would withdraw to a temple of darkness at the winter solstice. These temples were constructed to admit the light of the winter sun to shine upon a sacred altar at exactly the winter solstice. It was a test of courage to sit through the dark, and when the priest emerged, he could announce to the peoples that the sun would reappear. This could signify that the dark time had reached its culmination, and that the new cycle would now begin.

The Colors of the Inner Journey

            In reading my blogs for the 12 signs of the zodiac, you will have noticed that each sign carries the imprint of a different color. The signs from Aires to Libra correspond to the seven well-known colors of the rainbow, beginning with red and continuing to violent. These seven can be called the “day colors.” Beginning with Scorpio, the next five colors become increasingly delicate, or “spiritual. These “night-colors” are tones of lilac and peach-blossom and magenta that are so delicate and fleeting that we have no distinct names for them. Libra carried the color of violet: Scorpio is a lightened violet and Sagittarius pales to a lavender hue. This is the dark time of the year, and these are the colors of the spiritual world, of mysteries that reveal themselves only to the inner seeker.

            As the outer brilliance fades, we have a new opportunity to pay attention to the power of our heart and mind. Especially as we turn away from the pressing demands of the holiday season and create a conscious journey for the inner self, we may choose to spend more time doing inner work. In contemplation and quiet meditation, our dreams may become richer, and our experiences thereby more subtle. We can develop a new sensitivity to the delicate “colors” of our quiet inner life. The inner journey of the soul is cultivated by developing the ability to perceive the subtle dimensions of the non-physical world.

 

Sagittarius in the Body

            In the body, Sagittarius rules the thighs, and, by extension, the corresponding upper arms. Through the arms and legs, we are able to be active in our will, in the sense world.

            The next three zodiac signs (Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces) will extend all the way into the knees, shins and feet (and, by association, into the corresponding parts of the arms).

 

The Sounds of Sagittarius

            The sounds associated with Sagittarius are G (as in gate), and its partner sound, the un-voiced K.

            Before learning the gesture for these sounds, practice saying them and feeling what part of your mouth you use. You essentially have to create tension in the back of your throat, and inwardly push sideways to open your airway and control the way the air passes out of your lungs. With the voiced sound “G,” you can control the speed of the air enough that you can also make a kind of grunt as you exhale. With the unvoiced “K,” you open your throat quickly enough that the air seems to rush out.

 G:300           In the physiology of eurythmy, the muscles of the back of the throat correspond to the thighs and upper arms, the realm of Sagittarius. Thus, to create the G in eurythmy, begin by holding your arms in front of your chest, folded at the elbow, with the feeling that your arms are held tight in front of you and you want to push them apart. In preparation, you can imagine that you are in a box, and have to push your way out of it, but you can only use your upper arms, the Sagittarius part of your upper body. Pushing sideways, you create the gesture for G.

            You can replace the imagination of being in a box by imagining yourself standing behind a very heavy curtain. This curtain represents everything that keeps you from realizing your full potential. Make a decision to push your obstacles aside, and push the curtains apart. If you pay attention, you can feel that through this movement, your chest is opened wide: you stand in a new world.

            It is also possible to make a very delicate “G” gesture. This time, imagine that you are walking through a silvery-gray fog. With your arms, push aside the fog that blinds you, so you can find your way.

As you practice this, imagine yourself working with the archetypal colors of the G. Imagine yourself clothed in sun-yellow. This yellow invokes the radiant light of the I-Am, emerging out of spirit. Feel the silver-gray fog all around you in your etheric body. Push again the fog with a fine blue energy in your arms.

            It is also possible, to do G with the muscles of the thighs, corresponding to the deeper forces of Sagittarius.

            In a similar way, we can do the sound K with strong movements of the arms or legs. The energy of the K is K:300much more forceful, crisp and hard than the G.

            Lift your arms, feeling the power in the upper arms. Thrust downwards with them, vigorously, as if delivering a quick karate chop in the air. You may also thrust them outwards, to the sides. When first learning the K, remember to keep the elbows bent, so that the power is retained in the upper arms and doesn’t extend to the lower arms. Later, of course, you can practice other kinds of K’s.

            The colors of the K are different from those of the G. With K, you should imagine yourself clothed in vivid red. Instead of pushing yourself through silver gray, you will burst through a field of bright yellow, with red tension in your arms.

            The sound K is the sound that consolidates matter. With the K, the world is suddenly shaped into clear and sharp contours, into crystal clarity.

 

 

 

Advent Blessings

Advent Blessings

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.

 

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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

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Scorpio, the Sign of Death and Resurrection
Sidereal dates: 11/17-12/15  Tropical dates: 10/21-11/19


     Scorpio, the eighth sign of the Zodiac, is the powerful central sign of autumn. In this northern temperate climate, this is the season when the bright reds and golds and oranges of the fall foliage finally drop from the trees and carpet the ground.  The naked skeletons of the trees, gray and black and brown against the darkening skies, stand as sentinels of death. The life-forces of the perennials have retreated into the earth: the seeds of the annuals lie beneath the leaves; the tiny buds of next year’s tree-green are tightly enclosed in protective sheathes at the end of the tree limbs. Nature asks the urgent question: what will the next spring bring? What can survive the time of cold and darkness, and rejoin the cycle of life, having passed through death?
     Scorpio carries the double meaning of death and resurrection. It is a sign not only of the deadly scorpion and the serpent, creatures that wield the power of deadly poison, but also the sign of the eagle and the phoenix, birds that soar above the earth. The eagle plunges downwards with talons extended to catch its prey. This may mean death for the rabbit, but new life for the eagle, so it may soar ever higher in its flight.
     The phoenix’s journey is even more spectacular. This mythical bird sacrifices its own life by willingly plunging into the fire, only to arise in a new, resurrected form.
    All the images of Scorpio command us to consider how we live as humans spanned between life and death.

Scorpio and the World of Matter 

     Scorpio stands under the rulership of the spiritual beings known as the Exusiai, the Spirits of Form, also known as the Elohim. Under their domain, this world has achieved fixed form, a condition in which the limitless, infinitely creative and active domain of spirit has been slowed down, shaped, compressed and solidified. This world lies enchanted under the spell of death.
     This is the challenge of Scorpio:
We live as spiritual beings in this world of matter. Our higher selves still, even now, exist in the sphere of spirit. Will we be able to awaken, remembering how to be ignite our God-selves? Will we serve creation through good deeds, done in love?
     This path does not advocate abandoning ourselves to spiritual bliss or mindless-ness. This path shows us the way to awaken to full consciousness in the middle of this world of Form, of Darkness, of Death.
This path teaches us to have courage to go through the darkness, meeting it with courage and transforming it through deeds of love. On the other side of the autumn and winter of the soul there will be resurrection and new life. And so the Wheel of Life will continue to turn, as we evolve through the experiences of incarnation, of death, of re-incarnation.
     Thus, even as Scorpio is the sign of death and resurrection, it is also the sign of healing. A true healer must understand how to bring forth the forces of life. These may, of course, come from the field of living things,  including the forces of nature and forces that stream from the planets. But they may also come from the field of the life-less. This is the healing work of the alchemist or the homeopath, who lead the material world to its final compression, allow it to dissolve into dust, and harnesses the formative forces that are released through the dissolution of the enchanted material world.
In this sense, the “laboratory becomes an altar.”

Scorpio in the Body 

     In the body, we find Scorpio forces wherever the forces of catabolism are active. We must be strong enough to tear down the inherent formative forces of all the food we eat, so that we can incorporate it into our unique, personal body through the anabolic processes. Scorpio rules over digestive forces that must break down the world of matter when it is digested.
The power of Scorpio also speaks strongly in the bones, the most material part of our body. There, in the core, or marrow, of the bones, new red blood cells are being constantly created, in astonishing volumes. This is the source of new life, new life rising from death.
     Most significantly, Scorpio also rules over the reproductive organs in the body. In the deepest part of our bodies we carry the “holy of holies,” an organ system that carries the sacred seed of new human life. Here lies tremendous power, poetically equivalent to the power of nuclear fusion. Sexual energy has always been recognized as a two-edged sword: a path to dark power or self-serving lust, or a sacred path to profound union and love.
     Finally, on a spiritual level, Scorpio also rules the brain. Here we are taken on a powerful journey to realize that the brain does not “think.” The brain processes do not “secrete” thoughts. Neurological pathways are established through our experiences in the sense world, and also by our inner processes. As spiritual human beings, we read the patterns in our neurons to have consciousness. However, as everyone who has studied meditation and inner work knows, the meanings that we derive from what the input from the sense world offers us is completely determined by the quality of our spiritual activity, and the effort we put into clear thinking. Consciousness soars as a phoenix out of the ashes of mere sense activity, out of the purely neurological phenomena of brain activity.

 Scorpio as a Spiritual Activity

    In many spiritual traditions, including the New Testament, we are instructed to “die, before we die.” Like the phoenix, we may consciously enter the domains in which death-forces rule, the region where creation has been frozen into its fixed forms, beyond the reach of the creation beings. There, in human freedom, we may arise as self-realized beings, offering our own works as deeds of sacrifice for the greater good.

 The Eurythmy Gesture and the Sound of Scorpio

     To make the eurythmy gesture for Scorpio, focus all your power on standing upright and centered, prepared to master the forces of death and healing. Let your left arm become like an iron sword. With this sword, you will penetrate the mysteries of death and dying, of healing. Hold your arm slightly in front of your left side. pointing into the earth, holding “dragon forces” under your firm control.
     The sound of Scorpio is the S, which is possibly the most difficult sound to create. As the S rises from below upwards, it shows the higher nature of Scorpio, the eagle or the phoenix that spreads its wings and takes flight.
     When S plunges from above downwards, it shows the eagle plunging to the earth to take its prey. It shows the sting of the scorpion, which is often deadly. It shows the serpent that cannot stand upright but crawls on its belly on the ground. There it reaches into the realms of matter and of death.
    From there, it may overcome death to create the light of thinking, claiming resurrection and new life.
You may watch R.E. demonstrate the eurythmy sound for Scorpio and the sound S here:
https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/eurythmy-online/Scorpio.mp4    
or here:
https://youtu.be/OB1O1O65vkQ

Tropical dates: Oct. 21-Nov. 19
Sidereal dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 15
Color: “Peach-blossom Violet
Sound: S
Element: Fixed Water

Libra, the Scales

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
Color: Violet
Element: Air
Sound: C (ts)
Element of sound: Fire

 To watch the eurythmy gesture for Libra, click on this link:

https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/eurythmy-online/Libra.mp4 

 or youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bImGNFR_HyM(demonstrated by R.E.)

Libra