Rudolf Steiner's pedagogical insight was that children are better not pushed into reading until the permanent teeth arrive around age seven. Formative forces at work in the bodily organism are then released for mental effort. In the UK the "Too Much, Too Soon" campaign has reached the same conclusion, and one of the signers, a Cambridge University researcher, explains that "There are several strands of evidence which all point towards the importance of play in young children’s development, and the value of an extended period of playful learning before the start of formal schooling. These arise from anthropological, psychological, neuroscientific and educational studies." David Whitebread adds, "One particular study of 3,000 children across England, funded by the Department for Education themselves, showed that an extended period of high quality, play-based pre-school education was of particular advantage to children from disadvantaged households." Read more at the Cambridge University site.
A broad campaign for healthy early childhood has been carried for some years in the USA by the Alliance for Childhood, whose co-founder Joan Almon was a co-chair of WECAN, the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, and a general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America.
Waldorf schools are so famous for their strong arts curriculum that some people mis-perceive them as schools for arts rather than for the whole human being. The awarding of a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Thomas C. Südhof provides a pointer to Waldorf graduates' abilities in the sciences. His laboratory studies how synapses are formed in the brain, take on specific properties, and accomplish their signaling. Südhof tells his own story online, beginning as follows:
When I was born in Göttingen in 1955, the aftermaths of the second world war were still reverberating. I was born into an anthroposophical family. My maternal grandparents had been early followers for Rudolf Steiner’s teaching, and worked for Waldorf schools when Hitler assumed power and banned the anthroposophical movement. Waldorf schools were closed, and my grandfather was conscripted to work in a chemical munitions factory ... My uncle was drafted into the army right out of school, and when I was born, he had just returned from the Soviet Union after 10 years as a prisoner of war. My parents were physicians... My father’s training led him to the United States during the time I was born; as a result, he learned of my arrival by telegram as he was learning biochemical methods in San Francisco, where in a twist of fate I now live.
I ... graduated from the Hannover Waldorf school in 1975. I had been interested in many different subjects as a student, any subject except sports. I did not know what to do with my life after school, except that I was determined not to serve in the military. More by default than by vocation, I thus decided to enter medical school, which kept all avenues open for a possible career in science or as a practitioner of something useful – being a physician...
The Telegraph reports on the support given to Steiner/Waldorf schools, and to parents' right to choose alternative schools in the UK, by parent Tilda Swinton, the well-known actress. "She said the Steiner education system, in which she placed her twin son Xavier and daughter Honor, encourages pupils to become 'a fully functional person.' Speaking at an open day for the Moray Steiner School and Brumduan Upper School, attended by her 15 year-old children, Swinton said promoting the schools is her only current project, adding that there was 'a misunderstanding' about Steiner education as people think it's 'flaky' or 'woolly.' She said: 'When I went into the Steiner school for the first time, I was struck not only by the trusting and familial atmosphere for younger children, but mainly by older children, because I had never walked into a school before where teenagers had been so welcoming and self-possessed and kind.' She said the Steiner education system, in which she placed her twin son Xavier and daughter Honor, encourages pupils to become 'a fully functional person.'" Read more online.
For Michaelmas (September 29th), Bill Trusiewicz adds a third installment on the topic, "Archangel Michael, the Fiery Thought-King of the Universe: How Can We Know Him?" This part has the further title, "Spiritualizing the Knowledge of Space."
We will explore the statement from Rudolf Steiner’s last address quoted earlier, concerning the “great crisis” that humankind would pass through after the end of the twentieth century. Steiner said that it would be necessary that “the Michael Power and the Michael Will penetrate the whole of life.” He said that these “are none other than the Christ Power and the Christ Will.” We will explore how it is that through the Michael Power, humanity in our time can and must transform our predisposition to view all things in a materialistic way, due to our peculiar knowledge of space. We will address the question of how Michael can help us to spiritualize our knowledge of space and thus “penetrate the whole of life” to meet the challenges of our time.
There are a number of celebrations on September 20 and 21 of the laying of the foundation stone for the first Goetheanum a hundred years ago. Rick Ruffin of the SE Pennsylvania Branch has kindly shared a paper written by Alan Thewless, which was presented to the local Tycho Brahe Star Group.
Wherever you are, the members of the Eurythmy Association of North America are suggesting that you do "Halleluiah" in eurythmy. To co-ordinate with the beginning of the session at the second Goetheanum in Dornach that opens with the Prologue from the Gospel of John, the times would be 5:30 pm (Dornach), 8:30 am Pacific; 9:30 am Mountain; 10:30 am Central; 11:30 am, Eastern; 12:30 pm Rio de Janeiro; 4:30 pm London, etc.
Here is the information on the Dornach event, and here is information on the Ann Arbor talk by Douglas Miller. Here is the Frank Chester event in Silicon Valley and here is the celebration at Rudolf Steiner College. Here is the 9/21 Interactive Study at the Washington DC Waldorf School.
The state of Oregon is friendly territory for biodynamics. For one thing, the Demeter USA organization, which certifies biodynamic farms and products, is there. Seattle Times travel writer Brian J. Cantwell recently visited four vineyards southwest of Portland, asking first to see the cow horns (yes, cows have horns, used in quite a remarkable way in making BD preparations). He picked up a common-sense take on BD from the young saleswoman in a jam store ("at least the biodynamic folks are out there looking at their vines, while some winery owners aren’t even in the same state!"). And he ended feeling he had the "secret handshake": it's the biodiversity! [Read the article.]
The Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain elected new leadership just a few months ago, and the July-August edition of Anthroposophy Worldwide includes an interview with Marjatta van Boeschoten, the new General Secretary. She grew up in the context of anthroposophy and Camphill and has worked professionally outside the movement, as a lawyer and then in organizational development. "Rudolf Steiner spoke of a Society where those who are seeking can find, and I hope that we will succeed in opening our doors to these people, whether or not they wish to become members." [AWW, see p.4]
One of the crucial issues for the USA (and the world) is the proper place of business corporations in our political decision-making and our culture. The governance structure of this democratic republic is something very great in world history; but the wealth and power of America are also very great, and influence over our government can be a reliable source of wealth. Recently the US Supreme Court reaffirmed that corporations have the rights of human individuals under the constitution, and that their spending to influence political decisions is a matter of free speech. Most Americans believe that this is wrong, but few of us have any depth of understanding of the history and issues involved. Abraham Entin, a long-time social activist and anthroposophist, has been working to educate his fellow citizens in the area. His essay, "Corporate Personhood -- A Christian Perspective," asks what makes us human, and then what kind of being is a corporation. Only in the human being does the miracle of free choices and conscience appear. To protect that he argues that the power of corporations must be limited by constitutional amendment. [Read the essay]
Marian Leon, the Anthroposophical Society in America's Administrative Director, is featured along with the society and its work on the cover of the Crazy Wisdom Community Journal, a substantial and long-running publication based in Ann Arbor and serving Southeastern Michigan. Inside a six-page article pictures the society's beautiful national office at Rudolf Steiner House.
The journal is one of the services of the Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tearoom, the center in this lively university city for spirituality, alternative health, progressive living and social consciousness. The bookstore hosted a series of talks in 2011, Rudolf Steiner's 150th year, on related initiatives, and Ann Arbor features a strong Waldorf School, the Rudolf Steiner Health Center, a biodynamic Community Farm, and the Great Lakes Branch of the society. Each issue of the CW journal presents a cover story on an influential local leader. [Read the article here...]
In his latest E-News, Mark McAlister, administrator for the Anthroposophical Society of Canada, writes about learning anthroposophy from non-anthroposophists. As some ironic types like to say, "What a concept!" But seriously, Mark writes:
"It’s been said that Alcoholics Anonymous makes it a principle to venerate newcomers. Their questions are sharp and immediate, and they prevent the organization from becoming complacent and irrelevant. Is there a lesson here for the Anthroposophical Society? What would happen if we paid more attention to the questions and concerns of newcomers?
"With this in mind, I decided to participate in the Cambridge Music Conference in Vancouver last November. Elizabeth Carmack (an anthroposophist) was the driving force behind the conference, but the vast majority of the presenters and participants had no direct connection with Anthroposophy. What brought them together was a deep concern for the plight and trauma of people in the justice system (including both perpetrators and survivors of violent crime), and a quest for real and sustainable healing. Nigel Osbourne (a composer from UK) was a particularly inspiring example. Working with children in war zones, he has shown how the elements of music can reach to the deepest levels of the human being and bring hope where otherwise there would only be despair. I did not feel that he was lacking anthroposophy; he was revealing it to me.
"One can have similar experiences in meetings of the biodynamic movement. I have met a number of young farmers in recent years..." [Keep reading...]
April 22, 1970 was the first "Earth Day." John Beck pulls together a few of the connections, notably between eurythmist and biodynamic farmer (and translator and teacher and mentor) Marjorie Spock (1904-2008) and Rachel Carson (1907-1964), the author of Silent Spring. That book, like Uncle Tom's Cabin over a century before, created a revolution in attitudes about our relationship with and responsibility toward our planet. Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy enlarges and deepens the background of environmentalism while providing tools like Goethean science and biodynamic agriculture to understand the Earth and heal it. [Read more...]
A bonus comes in the form of a poem by Daisy Aldan, "Earth is a Being Who Deserves to Be Loved." If this was not written with Earth Day in mind, it should have been. It was published in The Threefold Review and later in Threshold from Anthroposophy NYC. Its central lines present an unforgettable global image of Earth that joins with Rachel Carson's vision of a spring without birdsong:
Multiple is she in anger and reverence,
passion and prayer. Even in catastrophe
and tempest, confounding harmonies enlighten.
She is haloed with many balancing haloes,
each day crowned with a corona of caroling
as bird-note meets bird-note at dawn moving westward.
The annual general meeting of the General Anthroposophical Society takes place each year in Dornach, near Basel, Switzerland, at the Goetheanum, this year March 22-24. A report by US General Secretary Torin Finser was sent out on March 31st [read it here]. Additional news is now available in several upbeat articles in the latest Anthroposophy Worldwide. Seija Zimmermann was reconfirmed as a member of the Executive Council and Joan Sleigh was approved as a new member. Virginia Sease presented an appreciation of Sergei Prokofieff, "honoring his wish to keep it simple."
Some credit for the amity of this year's annual meeting is given to the fact that it was prepared for the first time by the Executive Council working together with a members’ group. For the future, "a working group (that includes Executive Council members Paul Mackay, Justus Wittich and Seija Zimmermann) has been formed with the goal of discovering a new form for our Annual General Meetings. The starting point for this cooperative effort is our shared feeling of dissatisfaction with the fact that the consideration of motions has taken up a significant amount of time during the Annual General Meetings, and that concentration on motions has had a strong impact on the entire Annual Meeting. Much of what lives within the Anthroposophical Society—positive, constructive, and innovative elements—is lost from sight and cannot be developed further. It has also been impossible to consider the very issues, concerns, or new ideas introduced by the motions themselves." [Read more in Anthroposophy Worldwide...]
Three recent postings in our articles section are worth a look. John Miller reviews Partnerships of Hope, an account by Christopher Schaefer of the challenges and successes of building a Waldorf school community. Leah Walker writes about the "threshold work" which is so important to the "biography and social art" inspired by anthroposophy. And Chris Schaefer praises the Doris Kearns Goodwin biography of Lincoln, on which the recent Steven Spielberg movie was partly based, for its illumination of karmic relationships. Read on...
Last week the Associated Press featured the Rudolf Steiner Fellowship Community in Chestnut Ridge, NY, under the headline "For the aging, a commune-like alternative in NY." Appearing on websites and newspaper pages across the country, the story is a friendly and accurate description of the life and intentions behind this remarkable community focused on the needs of the aging. "Commune-like" is the lead phrase, but later the thought emerges that this is how life in a large family used to be, with people of all ages present and engaged, and the elders both giving and getting help freely according to ability and need.
"'It's a great place to live, and I think there's probably no better place in the world to die,' says Joanne Karp, an 81-year-old resident who was supposed to be in her room recovering from eye surgery but instead was down the hall at the piano, accompanying three kids learning to play the recorder." "Larry Fox, 74, a psychologist, treats patients at the Fellowship's medical office and said, 'Where could I be at my age and be so happy to get up in the morning and look forward to the day?'"
The first issue for 2013 of Anthroposophy Worldwide brings a translation of Sergei Prokofieff's letter on his work and health. With the annual general meeting March 22-23 he will move to emeritus status on the Executive Council at the Goetheanum, and will have to curtail his speaking and communications activities due to complications of his illness. His anthroposophical research work continues, and two further books are soon to be published, and he thanks friends around the world for their expressions of support and good wishes.
Along with the new issue of Anthroposophy Worldwide comes a winter scene from the Goetheanum neighborhood in Dornach, Switzerland.
The Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay Branch has a new website. Daniel Bittleston reports that "a lot of hard work has gone into the creation of this web site, and we particularly thank Carin Fortin for her gorgeous, professional design, given as a generous gift to the Branch." Take a look here, or find it later in the navigation list under Groups and Branches.
Former Waldorf teacher turned business consultant Jeff Kofsky traces the human path in Victor Hugo's masterpiece Les Misérables, a mainstay of the musical theater and most recently a movie. "What in this story has inspired such hope in the victory of the human spirit?"
In the Philippines Nicanor Perlas continues to develop collaborative cultural-social events and projects that combine business, government, and civil society with individual creativity and social responsibility. The Liwanag World Festival on Creativity and Sustainability (Jan 29-Feb 2, 2013) will feature outstanding Philippine speakers from all walks of life along with global guests including Barbara Marx Hubbard, Bruce Cryer, and Seth Jordan of Think OutWord.
After thirty years, Gayle Davis is stepping down as President and CEO of Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks (Sacramento), California. The transition comes after RSC achieved a new stage in its accreditation process early in 2012. New MA programs are also in development.
The RSC board named Gayle President Emeritus and named an interim leadership team of Betty Staley, Interim President, and Lauren Hickman, Interim Executive Director. Read the RSC release here.
One of the best pieces of news of 2011, the 150th anniversary year of Rudolf Steiner's birth, was that a distinguished documentary filmmaker intended Steiner for his next subject. Jonathan Stedall's The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner has not only met and surpassed any reasonable expectations, it is becoming a small library of thoughtful interviews. Where is it all headed and how to help is reported in an article by the filmmaker.
Nice to see a good picture of a couple of farmers out in the field. Nice twist when they are second and third in line to the British throne. The MailOnline reports (8Dec2012) under the line "We are aMOOsed!" that "Prince Charles triggers surge in 'cosmic farming' where cattle are allowed to develop their personalities (and crops are planted according to moon phases)."
"When the Prince of Wales embraced ‘biodynamic’ farming and admitted planting seeds according to phases of the moon, many thought he was probably showing lunar tendencies himself. But rather than ploughing a lonely furrow, it seems the Prince has inspired a new generation of ‘cosmic’ farmers, who grow fruit and vegetables according to signs of the zodiac and encourage their cows and sheep to develop a personality."
"Clarence House declined to comment on biodynamics but said: ‘The Prince has been pioneering agriculture techniques for over 30 years and continues to do so.’" And it's nice to see Prince William out there with dad and the cosmic herd.
[Update: Isthmus has added a report on the conference: "There was a presence, energy if you will, which I immediately tapped into. ... I will likely not be stocking up on cow horns anytime soon. But I did take home a revived sense of meaning in the mysteries around us."]
The just-ended Sacred Agriculture conference of the Biodynamic Association not only drew an overflow crowd, it garnered a lot of local Wisconsin media attention. The Wisconsin State Journal takes up the question of the conference name; two words rarely used together, 'sacred' and 'agriculture.' WUWM, Milwaukee Public Radio, did a five minute feature on "Demystifying a Farming Philosophy - Biodynamics" (audio and text); “'As Robert [Karp of the BDA] started speaking it reminded me of dozens of conversations with my grandmother; planting by the moon and how everything in nature works together; and how if your spirit ain’t right, your garden doesn’t grow,' [urban gardener Venice] Williams says."
Madison.com gave the conference extended notice in its events pages, and Madison alternative weekly Isthmus gave a strong plug in its advance story, which opened: "For those who have ever sensed the pulse of the Earth, or felt a sense of awe even in their own backyard, consider the 2012 North American Biodynamic Conference..." Further on it noted that "the conference will include voices from organics, permaculture and the arts. In fact, an evening will be devoted to music, poetry and storytellers because, Karp says, 'We recognize farming in the end is an art, and we need to draw from the arts.'"
Minnesota Public Radio reported recently (text and video) on one woman's choice of passing. "Like a growing number of baby boomers in Minnesota, Anne rejected traditional rituals like embalming and a mortuary service in favor of a more personalized experience: the home vigil. ...Anne approached Marianne Dietzel and Linda Bergh for help in planning what would happen when she died. The two women began working together after their daughters, who were best friends, were killed in a car accident in 1996. Dietzel and Bergh now help others cope with grief. They also help people plan how they want to die and how they want to be mourned through their group, the Minnesota Threshold Network. Anne enrolled in the group's death and dying class." Her daughter, initially uncomfortable with the process, concluded that "It really also continued her legacy, continued the type of person that she was in terms of how she liked to do things her own way. It seemed very natural, it seemed like her. The whole process seemed like her." Full story...
Is there such a thing as spirit humor? Penelope Baring asks that question in connection with the literary fiction of M.A. Kirkwood, and concludes that "she gives us a pretty good demonstration of it in her new work, Claire Ange, due out this fall." An engaging conversation follows between Penelope and the author, on humor, the late teenage years, New Orleans, and stories about our inner lives. Read more...
200 years after his birth on Michaelmas Day 1812, Kaspar Hauser's story -- "The Open Secret of the Foundling Prince" -- is coming to life in performance across the USA (PA, NY, NH, MA, IL, MN, WA) and in the UK and Canada. Storyteller and acclaimed actor Glen Williamson has created this one-man show to raise to awareness a pivotal figure in European and German history -- the abducted infant, heir to a throne, deprived of companionship, movement, language, education. The schedule of performances is linked here, and the program brochure with historical notes is here.
Mark Finser, Chair of RSF Social Finance and of New Resource Bank, spoke recently about "trust" and "confidence" at a TEDxPresidio event in San Francisco. Complex, opaque, anonymous, and oriented to short-term results -- what's to trust in our present financial system? In this 11-minute video, Mark talks about his original impulse in finance and the work of alternative institutions to build trust and confidence. View it here...
A year ago, in Part I of "Archangel Michael: The Fiery Thought King of the Universe: How Can We Know Him," Bill Trusiewicz examined various aspects of the archangelic being who according to Rudolf Steiner is the Spirit of our Time (or Zeitgeist).
In Part II Bill continues with the question: why is it in our time that Archangel Michael remains silent? We will be inquiring into what we might call the word-less aspect of the activity of the being of Michael.
In the latest Anthroposophy Worldwide, Virginia Sease introduces Joan Sleigh. At the 2013 AGM the Executive Council at the Goetheanum will suggest her as a new member of the Council. Joan Sleigh grew up in a Camphill community in South Africa with English as her first language. The mother of four studied Waldorf Education in Germany and has taught in schools as well as in teacher training. More...
Nathaniel Williams and John Scott Legg report that the Berkshire-Taconic Branch now has a website; it's linked from "Groups and Branches" on this page. Included is a calendar and download copies of the branch's excellent newsletter Chanticleer, edited by John Scott, which has stories and art of more than local interest.
"Local" in this case is the area from the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts and the town of Great Barrington, into the Taconic and upper Hudson region of New York state. Along with Waldorf schools in Harlemville and Great Barrington, there is the Hawthorne Valley Farm and Association, the Society's Rudolf Steiner Library, the oldest and largest Camphill community in North America at Copake, NY, Camphill Triform in Hudson, the new elder community Camphill Ghent, and too many notable artistic, therapeutic, social. and educational initiatives to list! Take a look at berkshiretaconicbranch.org.
Educator, author and filmmaker Nancy Jewel Poer, family physician Dr. Kelly Sutton, and biodynamic farmer Harald Hoven are speaking out for California Proposition 37. Earlier this year they collected signatures for the what successfully became ballot initiative Prop 37, by which California voters can require that food products including GMOs (genetically modified organisms) will be labeled as such. "This will be voted on by the people and will be one of the greatest stands this country has ever taken for our right to choose healthy food. It will be brutally opposed by the bio tech industry which has pledged millions to defeat it, for it threatens the foundations of their power over what we eat." Read more...
In 1984 Ralph White was founding program director of the NY Open Center, one of the world's leading holistic and world culture centers. In that first year he met the work of Rudolf Steiner and has been engaged ever since. Currently he is presenting "The Beautiful Wisdom of Rudolf Steiner: Philosopher, Seer, Educator, Scientist, and Artists" in three Tuesday evenings at the Open Center in Manhattan. Steiner, he writes, "was perhaps the most remarkable spiritual figure of the Twentieth Century. Yet his profound wisdom concerning the deepest mysteries of human existence remains surprisingly little-known in America. In 6,000 lectures and over 25 books, he gave the modern world the most beautiful, moving and inspiring picture of the human condition. His insights into reincarnation and karma, the journey of the soul after death, the nature of the angelic realms, the evolution of consciousness, the significance of the ancient mysteries, and the intense spiritual challenges of the present time, provide a contemporary esoteric path rich in meditation practice and highly relevant to the present moment."
Location: Ipswich, MA
2014 Summer Series, Anthroposophical Society of Cape Ann, Monday evenings at the House of Peace [more]
Location: Dornach, SWITZERLAND
A summer conference at the Goetheanum, for members of the School for Spiritual Science [more]
Location: Ipswich, MA
2014 Summer Series, Anthroposophical Society of Cape Ann, Monday evenings at the House of Peace [more]
Location: Ghent, NY
Free Columbia workshop with Laura Summer [more]
Location: Chestnut Ridge, NY
Decision-makers in both Waldorf schools and other educational and non-profit settings will find practical guidance... [more]
Goetheanum from the Air
The Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, ten kilometers southeast of Basel, is the home of the General Anthroposophical Society and School for Spiritual Science. Designed by Rudolf Steiner, it opened in 1928. This new four-and-a-half minute video views it from the air. Start the video, then click on the four-arrow icon to view full-screen.
On his "Centre for Social Poetry" blog John Stubley writes about the traumatic crime in Aurora, Colorado, and its context: Overcoming Evil on the Screen, in the World, in Ourselves.
Our August conference approaches with its focus on moving "from association to collaboration." In a blog post at global public relations organization Ketchum last December (republished here), member Robert Burnside (who is Ketchum's Chief Learning Officer) considered some recent studies of today's technology-based social networks.
The famous "six degrees of separation" between any two people on Earth is, for 700+ million Facebook users, less that five degrees, "friend" to "friend." And we seem to affect and be affected by our connections' connections even when we don't know them.
If you've been reading Steiner's "The Work of the Angel in Our Astral Body," this is an interesting contemporary counterpoint.
Sacramento-based Reg Down grew up, was educated, and has taught across much of the globe. Nancy Parsons, who with husband Bob has done so much for Waldorf education by translations and on the internet, reviews his "deeply serious fairy tale for grown ups" The Fetching of Spring and finds it "joyful, heartbreaking, action packed, contemplative, funny, whimsical, uplifting." [Read more...]
A second, revised and updated edition of Reg’s Color and Gesture has also recently been published. Therese Schroeder-Sheker, who is widely known for her work with music for the dying, calls the book "a series of meditative essays and illustrated explorations on the formative and transformative power of color and gesture, sound and music, body and soul from the perspective of a practicing eurythmist... a life-work, penned by someone who is an artist and philosopher, and who has taken the art of pedagogy seriously." [Read more...]
Born July 3, 1912, in Colorado, John Gardner is being remembered as person of strength of character, insight, and eloquence; a champion of the Transcendentalist stream in American life and thought; a pioneer of Waldorf education in America; a mentor and friend. Click here for a new article including photos, reminiscences, biography, and selections from his work.
Sally Rutledge has let us know that New Mexico now has a site to connect the many people and programs in this big state! It's blog style so that you can leave your email and be informed of new postings: events, newsletter, art, and more. Send info on your NM initiative or related business.
May brought an extensive new website for the San Miguel San Diego Area Branch in California. The branch newsletter credits six months of work by "Lori Daub and her helpers." The URL is sandiegoanthroposophy.yolasite.com but you can also find it quickly on our main navigation here by "mousing over" the "Groups and Branches" and choosing San Diego from the drop-down list. Along with articles by newsletter editor Richard Rettig and others this is already a large variety of event notices and reports, photos, links, and study materials. A warm welcome to San Miguel!
Noted Israeli philosopher and anthroposophist Dr. Yeshayahu Ben-Aharon will be sharing his recent work and perspectives on the 21st century in two-and-a-half day events in June in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and July in Seattle, Washington. "The World Today and How To Be In It -- An Anthroposophic Perspective" is the title for the NC event June 22-24. In Seattle July 6-8 the topic is "The Christ Event of the 21st Century - Singularity & Immortality." These events follow expanded online offerings at www.event-studies.org, a hopeful new book The Event in Science, History, Philosophy and Art, and lecture tours in Scandinavia, Austria, and the UK.
The topics of these workshops continue lines of inquiry presented in the Anthroposophical Society's being human magazine for Fall 2011, with the first publication of a 2007 lecture by Dr. Ben-Aharon on "Anthroposophy & Contemporary Philosophy in Dialogue: Observations on the Spiritualization of Thinking" (PDF). In the Winter 2011 issue came Andrew Linnell's "The Destiny of Humanity with Machines" (PDF), and in the Spring 2012 issue Prof. Fred Amrine's "Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Freedom" (PDF).
Another major newspaper has a big story on Steiner/Waldorf education. Education editor Jeevan Vasagar of the UK's Guardian reports at length on expansion of government-supported "academies" of this type. The story is colored somewhat by a recent to-do over alternative medicine, and by admiring comments on Steiner schools by Conservative politicians. Conclusion: "Any unconventional approach to education will be polarising. It's clear from the number of fee-paying Steiner schools that there are many who favour this style of education for their child. But it's not just a matter of attractive wooden furnishings and organic food – Steiner schools offer a radically different take on the world."
At the suggestion of Eurythmy Ireland, people around the world will be saying "Hallelujah" on May 27th in eurythmy, Rudolf Steiner's art of "visible speech." This is the 100th anniversary of this first word-form given by Steiner to his first student in eurythmy, Lori Smits, and the idea is that, ideally, all will perform the gestures at the same time. That's noon in Ireland, 1300 in Dornach, at 3:00am in Anchorage, 4am in Los Angeles, 5am in Boulder, 6am in Chicago, and 7am in New York. If you haven't seen "Hallelujah" in eurythmy, Gail Langstroth's beautiful video (pictured) is one of several on YouTube. Steiner suggested that this word could be understood as a cleansing of the soul to receive the spirit.
Nancy Jewel Poer was just helping to host a youth gathering with Edgard Gouveia Junior at White Feather Ranch. Before that was the wonderful film, "The Most Excellent Dying of Theodore Jack Heckelman" in which her brother shared with his community his very consciousness process of living out the end of life. -- Now Nancy has written to "share a culminating effort from my many years of teaching the spiritual mission of America, just now working with the 8th grade class of 2012 at Cedar Springs Waldorf School" -- on "The Great Peacemaker," her new play on the Iroquois nations. "A wonderful full circle with some exciting young actors taking part... a wonderful story... I have a written version if there is interest." Which there should be! Contact Nancy via her website.
A paper by Steve Usher in last December's Jupiter, the journal of the Mathematics and Astronomy Section at the Goetheanum, continues his exploration of the question of a culmination of the anthroposophical movement at the end of the 20th century. The twenty page paper also explores the question of the "cosmic intelligence" and challenges of the 21st century. Read more...
In connection with this Easter day and season, we have three sharings. From long-time Waldorf teacher Paul Gierlach we have "Easter Thoughts," a new posting in our Articles section. He begins, "I am always amazed that an individual life can be led based on the needs of others, both in small and large ways." Do read more...
We're also happy to share a guide to Rudolf Steiner's Soul Calendar--the timing of the verses for those following them weekly through the year. The Calendar was given in 1912 and requires some adaptation each year to the changing calendar. This guide is from Herbert O. Hagens of Princeton, NJ, and is also printed in the Spring being human which will be in the mail to members next week. The summer issue will have additional features on this remarkable "calendar of the soul."
Finally, we have posted the "Theme of the Year" from the Goetheanum, written this year by Paul Mackay: "The Identity of the Anthroposophical Society." This Theme is offered to be worked with internationally, beginning at Easter time.
If you are not familiar with Rudolf Steiner's "Soul Calendar," here with its cosmic picture of human experience at this springtime of year is the opening verse, for Easter:
When out of world-wide spaces
The sun speaks to the human mind,
And gladness from the depths of soul
Becomes, in seeing, one with light,
Then rising from the sheath of self,
Thoughts soar to distances of space
And dimly bind
The human being to the spirit’s life.
Our friends at SteinerBooks have posted a free up-to-date 28-page list of the collected works of Rudolf Steiner. "All of the works of Rudolf Steiner that have been published in German are listed by volume number, with both the original German titles and the English titles in italics of the books available in English. Books not available in English have approximate literal translations of the German titles in Roman type." SteinerBooks' Collected Works project is a very important effort to bring out volumes corresponding to the German GA listing with up-to-date notes and introductions and supporting material.
India's The Hindu reports on how Holland-based educator Miriam Haenan blends Western education and Indian philosophy to make learning a holistic experience. “'In this method of teaching you try to bring heaven and earth together in whatever you do.' While Miriam's own three children were growing up, she trained in Waldorf education. 'My children are my biggest gurus in the path of child development,' she smiles." Read more...
Wisconsin resident Lori Barian, editor of the Central Region's The Correspondence, has been keeping us informed about the Food Freedom movement in which the first biodynamic farm in the US, the Zinniker's farm, played a key role beginning in 2010. Another Wisconsin farmer, Vernon Hershberger, is putting himself on the line and in court now. A new video gives a sense of this struggle where health, nutrition, rights, community, and economics intersect.
Update: The UK's The Telegraph has now printed a substantial obituary of Maria Thun.
Biodynamics pioneer Maria Thun died on February 9th shortly before her ninetieth birthday. Her research since the 1950s and her calendars and books have been a tremendous resource to the movement. We first heard of her passing by way of a blog in the Guardian - "our lunar-growing guru" - just another life she had touched! Floris Books has a proper short biography, and SteinerBooks has her titles available in the US. Sherry Wildfeuer's introduction to the 2012 Stella Natura calendar is here, and you can support the BD Association by buying her book Gardening for Life here.
As the noted historian Carroll Quigley observed, people trying to help our social system evolve are too often ignorant of economics. We're grateful to Paul O'Leary for sharing a paper, "The Federal Reserve System, Fiat Money, and Fractional Reserve Banking," which is not too long or too short, and includes at the end a glossary of some key terms. Paul begins with a quote from Thomas Jefferson:
“I sincerely believe . . . that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
Thomas Jefferson1 Third President of the United States (1801 - 1809)
In May Rudolf Steiner College will present a conference, "Psychosophy and a New Mythological Consciousness," with presenters Robert Sardello, William Bento, Dennis Klocek, Orland Bishop, Cheryl Sanders-Sardello, David Tresemer, Brian Gray, and Gillian Schoemaker. "The fear of not knowing our future creates a haze that prevents an apprehension of 'what-is-coming-to-be.' New dimensions of consciousness—intelligence of the heart, a new form of empathy, and the capacity to be within creative imagination—are already present for everyone. These new aspects of our being are forming a mythological consciousness." William Bento has shared some musings on the theme.
Arthur Zajonc, professor of Physics at Amherst College and a former general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America, has been appointed president of the Mind and Life Institute, a Boulder, CO-based nonprofit organization dedicated to building a scientific understanding of the mind through the investigation of contemplative practices in order to reduce suffering and promote well being.
Prof. Zajonc has been visiting professor and research scientist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and a Fulbright professor at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. His research has included studies in electron-atom physics, parity violation in atoms, quantum optics, the experimental foundations of quantum physics, and the relationship between science, the humanities, and the contemplative traditions. He is author or editor of eight books including: Catching the Light, The Quantum Challenge, Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry: When Knowing Becomes Love, and with Parker Palmer, The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal.
Prof. Zajonc commented, "For over 20 years the work of the Mind & Life Institute has enriched our understanding of the mind by bringing together the remarkable achievements of modern research in neuroscience with the equally profound traditions of contemplative inquiry. Together they have the possibility not only of illuminating the nature of mind, but also of addressing many of the sources of suffering that are rooted there. "
The Biodynamic Association's "Biodynamics Blog" has become an important intersection for all kinds of food movement, conservation, and of course biodynamic agriculture news. The latest post cover the state of the struggle to have GMO (genetically modified organism) foodstuffs labeled as GMO, with links to an article by Robert Karp and a video pitch for labeling. Other recent entries address saving farmland and wild space, the challenge of counting US CSA organizations (community supported agriculture), and the raw milk war. Sign up for notice of new posts.
RSF Social Finance has launched an Impact Map to share the work of the social enterprises they support."Since 1984, RSF has made over $230 million in loans and $100 million in grants, placing us in the top tier of social finance organizations worldwide. But when we evaluate success, we think beyond dollars. Explore this map to see a snapshot of the types of organizations we support and the people and places affected by our investments."
Just choose an impact area, scroll the thumbnails below it, and view photos, videos, news and blogs. Only a handful of enterprises are shown in each area so far, but the depth on each is impressive and more will be added. Click here to view the RSF Impact Map...
Mary Lee Plumb-Mentjes of Anchorage, Alaska, reports on a 2011 visit to Irkutsk, Yekaterinburg, and Kirov, Russia, meeting with Waldorf teachers."I was impressed most by our times around the Waldorf kindergarten tables with the teachers, helpers and parents all tightly squeezed around, sharing tea and cookies, intent on discussion of challenges, singing and laughing. I’ve been in Waldorf circles for many years and only in the early pioneer days of initiatives do I remember the same ability of a group to have a single focus shared together. Those we visited in Russia were not in what we would consider their 'pioneer days'; they had been at it generally since 1989 and the days of glasnost and perestroika. Part of their warm, social strength comes from the challenges they face. " Read more...
Media coverage continues around Silicon Valley school
Matt Richtel's piece on Silicon Valley parents sending their kids to a technology-deferred Waldorf school continues to reverberate. Our News page ("beta"--just being previewed) links to that article and a number since, at myFoxNY, the Montreal Gazette, and the Colorado Springs Independent. And the San Francisco CBS station followed some weeks ago with a very thoughtful video report.
Then NBC Nightly News aired a national report on this irresistible topic: high-powered techie parents who think a "low-tech" Waldorf education will prepare their children better for life. A further web-only feature may follow automatically, or click here. ADDITION: CBS Morning News has also covered the story nationally now; click here. Closing thought: the school of the future may be the school of the past.
Two recurrent negative themes: this approach is "old fashioned" (one student observes that it's actually the education of the future); and it costs a lot (the CBS piece points out that assistance is available). But all in all, a continuing surprised and friendly look at Steiner education. Hats off to the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, teachers, parents, students, for their open, sincere, and convincing representation of their values.
On November 14th Cornelius Pietzner, long-time Camphill leader in North America and for a decade treasurer at the Goetheanum, launched Alterra Impact Finance GmbH. As described on its website, Alterra is 'a Swiss-based investment manager for a Luxembourg SICAV-SIF social impact investment fund. It focuses investments on the basic necessities for a human being—health, housing and food, in addition to responsible consumer goods which are supportive of the environment.' Alterra hosted its Fund Launch at its office on Bleicherweg, Zurich with guest keynote speaker Jacob von Uexkull, Founder of the Right Livelihood Award ( known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”) and the World Future Council. There was also a project presentation featuring Vita Terra (Switzerland) and Beni Ghreb, active in bio-dynamic agriculture in southwest Tunisia.
A new book by Nicanor Perlas, "alternative Nobel Prize" winner, Philippine presidential candidate, biodynamic farmer and a leading exponent of social ideas globally, is receiving much attention in the Philippine media. Subtitled "Sow Courage, Reap a New World," it describes the MISSION movement founded in the Philippines in 2010.
"It illlustrates how personal mastery can empower individuals to act from their highest potential and creativity when helping to rebuild societies. Bestselling author Neale Donald Walsch, in his latest book, Storm Before The Calm cited Perlas and MISSION as doing cutting edge societal threefolding work that is essential to the 'creation of humanity’s New Cultural Story.' With this citation, MISSION is introduced worldwide to over a million people who are expected to read Walsch's book."
The book's website is here.
Brian Gray, program director of the "Foundations in Anthroposophy" program at Rudolf Steiner College, talks about the "foundation year" concept, how it's evolving at RSC, Rudolf Steiner's basic books, and five key attributes of anthroposophy. Click here for the full text. An excerpt of this interview was published in the fall being human.
Youth section members have created Occupy The Future, a site for participation and information related to the "Occupy Wall Street" and sympathetic demonstrations around the world. Participants in the fall conference have visited the large and peaceful two-block encampment in Portland, Oregon. One recently retired couple traveling the country joined the campers.
For almost a year wonderful events have been taking place across the country and the world for Rudolf Steiner's 150th birthday year. Probably the largest event was convened by RSF Social Finance, "Celebrating Rudolf Steiner" at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco, with 550 people attending across a day of notable speakers and a sort of Steiner Fair. (Here's a recap.)
Now four of the talks are available online from the Reimagine Money blog:
- What’s So Special About Biodynamics? with Paul Dolan, Paul Dolan Vineyards
- Steiner’s Influence Today with Robert McDermott, California Institute of Integral Studies
- Threefold Principles with Jeffrey Westman, Social Entrepreneur, John Bloom & Mark Finser, RSF Social Finance
- Transforming the Way the World Works With Money with Don Shaffer, Jeffrey Westman, Michael Davis, and Scott Leonard of Indigenous Designs
You'll miss the fog, the baloons, the great company -- but do tune in!