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Welcome to Anthroposophy in America E-News, July 21, 2009!
 
 

In this Issue:
The Solar Eclipse... A Green Guide to France... Whales watching us?... Steiner's Research in Knowing...  Notes...
Events... Save the dates... Sign up for E-News...
 

NASA photo of total solar eclipse

Tuesday/Wednesday's Eclipse:
A Letter

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dear Members and Friends of the Anthroposophical Society, General Council, Collegium, CAO and Branch Leaders,

As many of you know, the 22nd of July – this coming Wednesday [see note below about the time] – will bring a total solar eclipse visible over many cities in China and the Far East [link: NASA details].

A wide variety of people have spoken of this event as being particularly significant for the months ahead. The blocking of the sun by the moon will cast a lunar shadow over the earth, perhaps in more ways than one when considered in light of anthroposophical insights. Even mainstream commentators have noted the potential for unusual disruption in world affairs. Therefore, I am taking this personal initiative of writing to you in order to suggest a way of meeting this event with greater consciousness, and I invite you to do the same.

Early Wednesday morning* I will gather with colleagues and friends here in New Hampshire to live with the fourth panel of the Foundation Stone given by Rudolf Steiner.

Darkness of Night
Had held its sway;
Day-radiant Light
Poured into the souls of men:
Light that gave warmth
To simple shepherds’ hearts,
Light that enlightened
The wise heads of kings.

O Light Divine!
O Sun of Christ!
Warm Thou our hearts,
Enlighten Thou our heads,
That good may become
What from our hearts we would found
And from our heads direct
With single purpose.

Quoted in my winter letter in Evolving News for Members and Friends, these potent lines might be of particular help this week. How would it be if those aligned with the intentions of “Light Divine, Christ-Sun” were to speak back to the Cosmos, so to say, on the 22nd of July? If these lines were to be spoken repeatedly across North America at different times during the day, by individuals and groups, we could be assured that a moment of unified human striving would also become a reality.

When Francis Edmunds spoke to the children at our school in Great Barrington for the last time, he said that when we think of each other, we remain united even when we are not physically visible to one another. As we face the increasing challenges of our time, we need to exercise our spiritual voice more than ever. The consequence of this initiative that some of us will freely take up on Wednesday may not, in fact will not be readily visible at first. Yet the work of the School of Michael calls for a strong and active presence in our world, and we need to summon the courage to work more actively together.

I can appreciate that some may not be concerned about solar eclipses and such things, and I respect the freedom of each individual in our movement to draw his or her own conclusions. Yet I cannot but think that the efforts of those who take up this initiative on Wednesday will not be in vain. The world truly needs all those who are striving together for spiritual truth.

With warm regards,

Torin M Finser, PhD

PS Please forward this to your email list of friends and groups you feel might be interested……….before Wednesday!
 

* - Part of a note on the time from Brian Gray at Rudolf Steiner College:

The time of the central solar eclipse is 2:35 AM UT (Greenwich) on July 22nd. That translates to 10:35 PM EDT, or 9:35 PM CDT, or 8:35 PM MDT, or 7:35 PM PDT on Tuesday, July 21st. Since at totality the eclipse lasts over six minutes, five minutes earlier and up to five minutes later could be a time of great concern.

 

The moon's shadow on the Earth during a 2008 eclipse, as seen from the international space station:

2008 NASA photo of Moon's shadow on the Earth

Further links: a description of a total solar eclipse with remarkable picture of the sun's corona; Kevin Dann blog; Wikipedia article with animation.

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Traveling in France with Anthroposophy

If you are traveling to France, or thinking about it, Dorian Yates' green earth guide: traveling naturally in France is "written for the twenty-first-century traveler with a conscience" and includes many pages of specific interest to anthroposophists. (You can preview it on Google Books.) She notes, "I have been a Waldorf school mother and a health care practitioner utilizing some aspects of anthroposophical medicine and I know how hard it can be to find like-minded resources when traveling." Along with bike rentals, eco-accommodations, special diets, thermal baths, and fair trade shopping, Dorian give an extensive health section which begins with pages on anthroposophical medicine (including mistletoe) and continues with massage, ayurveda, herbs, homeopathy (and Samuel Hahnemann's grave location). Organic food is explained in the European context, and Biodynamics are explained in the important French context of wines. Waldorf-affiliated home exchange is mentioned among accommodation choices. Maps show walks, biking, spas, wind-energy sites, and traditional routes to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Vivid color photos whet the appetite to get up and go!

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"Watching Whales Watching Us"

Christian Sweningsen drew our attention to a remarkable long article in the New York Times by this name. Don't let the initial painful account of the damage we are doing to the sea mammals turn you away; after the first page another story begins to unfold: of whale communications, of their interest in human beings, of their unusual biology: "[A 2006] study revealed brain structures surprisingly similar to our own. Some, in fact, contained large concentrations of spindle cells — often referred to as the cells that make us human because of their link to higher cognitive functions like self-awareness, a sense of compassion and linguistic expression — with the added kick that whales evolved these same highly specialized neurons as many as 15 million years before we humans did, a stunning instance of a phenomenon biologists refer to as parallel evolution."

The author notes that "somehow the more we learn about whales, the more we’re coming to appreciate the sublimely discomfiting reality that a kind of parallel 'us' has long been out there roaming the oceans' depths, succumbing to our assaults." And he finds scientists--at least one--who does not simply dismiss his question about "some element of knowing forgiveness behind [the whales'] actions."

Somehow this led to an article by Bobby Matherne, the tireless and free-spirited reviewer and explicator of Rudolf Steiner's lectures, about dolphin communication, and how visual images are perhaps shared among sea mammals by means of sounds and hearings. One may take Bobby's insights in light of Steiner's observation that the essential nature of the idea is a figure. Which leads, perhaps to thoughts of eurythmy, and just how large a step in human expression and communications may lie along the lines of that art form.

And all these thoughts lead to another question...

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Steiner's Research into How We Know

What struck your editor as an important piece of research and writing came early this year, before the first issue of the new quarterly. Written by Pennsylvanian Scott Hicks, a member of the Anthroposophical Society and the School for Spiritual Science, it explores the relationship of the work of Franz Brentano, a charismatic professor of philosophy at the University of Vienna, and two of his pupils, Rudolf Steiner and Edmund Husserl.

Edmund Husserl"How we know what we know" is referred to by philosophers and academics as epistemology or cognitive studies. Brentano was one of the first to look at the inner happenings of human consciousness as phenomena, and his two above-mentioned students went on to explore and analyze their own thought events and processes in very powerful ways. But Steiner's anthroposophy is still only modestly known, and actually avoided in the academic world because of its radical approach and vast scope, while Husserl's work, if not widely embraced, is well-known in universities as "phenomenology" and was taken up quite seriously in their own ways by his own students including Heidegger and Sartre.

Scott Hicks quite modestly acknowledges, most of the way through his paper, that he is not writing about things of which he has no experience. And he is able to lay out key aspects of Husserl's work, and point how Rudolf Steiner went there, and farther. There is only one problem: when it comes to anthroposophy combined with serious academic philosophy, how many people can "go there"? And if very few could read it with comprehension, how can we give a third of an issue of our quarterly to publishing it?

A challenge. This paper sits at the branching point where one man, Husserl, went on to academic understanding, and another, Steiner, went on to change many aspects of culture but not the universities--so far. It's important to our culture that we see what is going on at this divide. So with Scott's agreement, I am posting his article at our "Overset" page, and asking those who are willing to try, to download it, read it, work with it--he does explain the terms and works with them quite clearly--and get back to us about it.

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 NOTES

Foundation year in Asheville, NC?

The Anthroposophical Group in Asheville, North Carolina, hopes to start a Foundation Studies program this Fall. If interested, please contact Marie Davis as soon as possible.

A Child's Reincarnation Memories

Marke Levene shared this link to the Cleveland Fox TV station: a powerful video report on a child's extraordinary reincarnation nightmares and memories, now published as a book called Soul Survivor.

"Biodynamic gardeners and teachers seek opportunity...

...to continue a lifetime of work in conscious agriculture." A message passed along July 8th from Barbara M. V. Scott and Woody Wodraska. "We carry with us a large collection of heirloom seeds which we have grown out for 20 years, as part of our own spiritual work. We need congenial housing and opportunity for right livelihood. Barbara is a lifelong gardener and healer, a gifted, intuitive teacher and land-listener. Woody’s writings receive wide favorable comment and he has co-created gardens in many different settings. Read our biographies at: soulmedicinejourney.com."

Copland's Chord

A little musical explanation and illustration can wake up our ears quite wonderfully. This four-minute bit from NPR does that for the opening of Appalachian Spring, Aaron Copland's ballet which seemed to give voice to the USA's own sound. Perhaps someone can add some further anthroposophical insights--and get back to us about that, too!

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EVENTS

These are a few of the many learning and performance events taking place across the country...

August 17-21:
The Waldorf Way
4th Annual home-school workshop at Shining Star School in Portland, Oregon. Please email or call 503-753-4459.

August 30--October 5:
Mercury in America bus tour. "Join us in exploring emerging cultural forms." From the Burning Man Arts Festival, cross country to anthroposophical meetings and the AGM "Creating Living Connections."

October 1 (at the AGM):
The North American Youth Section Meeting 2009 will be part of the Anthroposophical Society in America's Annual General Meeting pre-events in Spring Valley, NY on Thursday, October 1. Here are a flyer and the registration form.

Rudolf Steiner Institute - July 5-25
From September 25-28:
Rudolf Steiner College announces a new Community Learning Center at the Fair Oaks campus offering part-time Foundations Courses–three weekends a year for three years–which fulfill the prerequisite for RSC Teacher Education Programs. Auditors are welcome. First weekend: September 25-28, 2009. For information, contact Betty Staley, Director: 916-806-3559 or visit steinercollege.edu

Sunbridge College
Through August
Programs for early childhood educators, preparing for grades 1-8, a homeschooling weekend and music teacher's conference. Details here

Encircling Light, Expectant Silence - A Conference on the North
August 1-8
Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, with Philip Thatcher, Sergei Prokofieff, Frode Barkved, Meta Williams, Lisa Del Alba, Mary Lee Plumb-Mentjes, Monique Walsh, Hannes Weigert, and Seija Zimmermann

Intensive Art Retreat, August 7 to 11, Crestone, Colorado, with Jennifer Thomson

At Threefold Educational Center
August 8-11:
Inner Transformation and Social Renewal: Conference / Art and Science Exhibition
"Social change that draws on conventional ways of thinking never seems to get to the root of our problems." This conference includes Henrike Holdrege, Michael Howard, Gerald Karnow MD, Gary Lamb, Mac Mead, Ulrich Roesch, Michael Steinrueck, Laura Summer, Nathaniel Williams, and members of Think OutWord.
August 12-16:
The Portal of Initiation and Its Relationship to Goethe’s Fairy Tale:
Rudolf Steiner's first Mystery Drama, The Portal of Initiation, and Goethe’s fairy tale, “The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily” in four days of lectures, conversations and performances. Conference faculty includes Barbara Renold, Herbert O. Hagens, Joan Allen, Joan Almon, Els Woutersen, and Daniel Hafner.


Starting September 12:
Pfeiffer Center One-Year Part-Time Biodynamics Training: with Mac Mead, Hugh Williams, Steffen Schneider, Craig Holdrege, Jennifer Greene. This program began in 1996. The Pfeiffer Center is sponsored jointly by Sunbridge Institute and the Threefold Educational Foundation.



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Save the Dates

November 27-29, 2009:
Coming into Conversation, at the Goetheanum, sponsored jointly by the YouthSection and the Section for the Social Sciences. All welcome.

February 14-18, 2010:
International Kolisko Conference, February 14-18, Honolulu, HI -- email Van James.

Coming in 2010:
The theme of the 3rd International English Conference will be "Stepping into the 21st Century Spiritually".

  
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