A biweekly newsletter from the Anthroposophical Society in America
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August 29, 2020

Dear Members & Friends,

In just about six weeks our fall conference will be taking place, online of course. “Willing the Good: Love, Action, Healing” comes October 9, 10, 11, with pre-conference activities and the ASA annual meeting on Friday the 9th, and the conference opening at 4:30pm PT, 7:30pm ET.

The conference team encourages you to begin working with The Culture of Selflessness by Peter Selg (2012), a book which unfolds from Rudolf Steiner’s direction that...

“We must first become selfless. That is the task of culture today for the future. Humanity must become more and more selfless; therein lies the future of right moral life deeds, the future of all acts of love that can occur through earthly humanity.” (Approaching the Mystery of Golgotha)

Special attention will be given to “The Mystery of the Earth” by Ita Wegman, the Warmth Meditation and the Bridge Meditation. These suggestions are available from the page linked above.

The Applied Anthroposophy Course starts even sooner. Thursdays September 10 & 17, 7:30-9:00 pm ET is “The Basic Concepts of Anthroposophy in Seven Steps: A Crash Course for Beginners” with Sherry Wildfeuer and Alex Tuchman. (All registrants will receive recordings of these sessions.)

Elements covered in the Introductory Sessions:
1. Body, Soul and Spirit
2. The Soul between Body and Spirit, and the Mystery of the Human ‘I’
3. Comparing Mineral, Plant, Animals and Human (Four-Fold Human Being)
4. Sleep, Death, Life After Death, and Reincarnation
5. Evolution (Origins and Goals)
6. Evolution of Human Consciousness
7.  The Representative of Humanity and a new paradigm of Good and Evil.

Do take a look at this whole amazing course!

Santa Cruz area wildfires
CA Santa Cruz Fires / Gulf Hurricane. A large group of fires is burning north of Santa Cruz, California. The Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Branch held a check-in Zoom meeting last Tuesday, reporting that “some branch members have lost their homes and others are under threat in various degrees. All of us are living with stress and uncertainty.” This on top of health and social concerns nationwide. According to Cal Fire, more than 77,000 people have been evacuated from the fires in this area, started August 16 by lightning strikes. Since then, the complex has charred more than 80,000 acres and is 24% contained, as of Thursday morning. — Meanwhile, “historically powerful” hurricane Laura came onshore early Thursday with 150 mph winds, west of New Orleans in southwest Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans fifteen years ago this week. It seems to be quietly accepted that climate change is intensifying dramatic weather events.
Laura Summer art dispersal
In the Figure of Divine Substance - Art Dispersal. In 2018/19 Laura Summer created 33 paintings in response to poetry by women describing their relationship to God. On September 26/27 the paintings will be dispersed into the world. This means that you can become the steward of a painting. You can live with the painting for as long as you like, you can pass it along to someone else who wants it and, if you no longer want to keep it, you can return it to the artist who created it. You can make a donation to support Free Columbia. You can reserve a painting if you will not be able to be present on that weekend or if you want to choose before the event. Each painting is framed in a gold wood frame and has a suggested donation range that begins at $0. “Let us see what happens when we ask people to support the conditions for creativity instead of purchasing artwork.” Laura Summer. (The link above has a further link to the works of art on Flickr.com)
Eric Muller Black Madonna
Eric Müller - Black Madonna novel. Eric lives in upstate New York, teaching music, drama, English literature, and creative writing at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf High School. He is a founding member of the Alkion Center and is the director of the education department. “The Black Madonna and the Young Sculptor is a riveting tale that touches on the mythic, while delving into arcane realms of Celtic, Roman, and Christian traditions. On a fundamental level it is a search for the divine feminine and the lingering mysteries around the Black Madonna. It is also, in part, a coming of age story in that it follows the spiritual, artistic, and romantic awakening of young Caradoc. This novel is meant to enchant and guide the reader along an array of rich imaginations that stimulate the mind to traverse through the earth’s fertile darkness toward the light-filled heights of the spirit.” More books by Eric Müller are at his artist’s page.
Annual Report 2019

The Annual Report for 2019
is now online...

bringing reflections on a busy and still “normal” year, with our annual conference in Atlanta, the Sacred Gateway conference in upstate New York, the Questions of Courage youth conference, many marvelous webinars and podcasts, classes and meetings of the School for Spiritual Science, with numerous reports, great pictures and graphics.

 As General Secretary John Bloom begins his welcoming letter, “Seeing 2019 through the complexity of the first half of 2020 is a challenge, but once through, an amazingly fruitful but distant year emerges.”


August sun, southern New Jersey


To gain our full humanity will require, among much else, that we recognize how intimately we are woven into the world. The four-part picture of the “human constitution” reveals these layers of engagement. 

Physical, life, feeling, identity (or physical, etheric, astral, ego) correspond to the four elements (earth, water, air, fire) of ancient science. Because of the magnificent discovery of the system of chemical “elements” by Mendeleyev, these old four elements have come to seem rather meagre and simple. We fail to recognize them as fundamentals of cosmic design

Working conceptually with solidity, liquidity, the nature of gases, and the nature of fire is something marvelous. Without the solid, we would have no place to stand. Without the liquid, there would be no conditions for life. The crystal forms of solids are beautiful, but water releases all the form possibilities seen in living organisms and studied by biochemistry. Air brings movement even freer than water’s, along with compression and explosion. And warmth is the change-maker, by its presence or absence transforming substances solid to liquid to gas, and back. 

For us living beings, the solid mineral world is death. We can raise it back to life in farming, we carry it about in our bodies’ organic liquidity, it gives us rigidity in our bones, and we give it back, dust or ashes, when we die. Rudolf Steiner notes, however, that what we give back has been changed by being part of us—a suggestive thought in light of the strange “quantum effects” of physics. 

The liquid world, the domain of water, is a tremendous and unending cycle powered by the fire/heat/warmth of the sun against the earth’s gravity. It’s easy to see water evaporating into clouds, falling as rain or snow, melting, running downhill in streams, lakes, the ocean. The cycle, however, also runs through  the earth, through all the plants, the animals, and ourselves. Looking for life on other planets, explorers look for water.

We can’t forget for long that we depend on air. We give and take elements of air in balance with the plants. While we take and give back our water to the world, we are now doubly aware that we often breathe each other’s breaths quite intimately. The Roman word conspiracy pictures a group huddled so closely that their breaths are immediately shared.

In current circumstances we try to manage that exchange, to avoid the invisible things carried in the air. We have also been shaken awake by the cruelty of suffocation: “I can’t breathe,” said George Floyd, repeatedly. And somewhat more abstractly, we understand that our civilizational outbreathing of carbon dioxide and other gases is weakening the whole life-sphere of the Earth.

The ‘I’ or ego or self is where we can feel separate, unwoven, independent. This present necessary stage in humanity’s evolution of consciousness opens up a field of personal choices, a new exercise of conscience. Here we may discover our deepest intentions, and weave new relationships, ego-to-ego, to raise us toward a fuller humanity. 

So the idea of human supremacy over nature is an untruth: it is a veritable war against ourselves. Any kind of supremacy, over the planet, over resources, over forests, over the animals, over each other—has become a weak and false doctrine. That is because the greatness of higher being is not about enforcing one’s own will. 

Enforcement is a characteristic of the physical-material world which humans can help transform. Spiritual greatness as described by Rudolf Steiner involves a giving away of one’s own being. We can grasp this in terms of teaching, or simply sharing insights. A teacher gives thoughts away, and to the extent they are truthful and useful, the recipients are empowered by them. And so, what once was merely mine flows out and becomes productive everywhere...

General Secretary Page
General Secretary Page. A new page has been added to the ASA website to collect the letters and articles of General Secretary John Bloom, along with historical pieces connected with ASA leadership over our almost one hundred year history. Each piece can receive comments, and longer essays connected with John Bloom’s articles can be posted. The first such response is from long-time member Dorothy Hinkle-Uhlig, of Auburn, Alabama. “The Shadow Side of Gift” reflects on John Bloom’s article “The Alchemy of Gift” which appeared recently in being human magazine.
MC Richards Late Works
Inventing Color - Late Works of M.C. Richards - is showing through October 4 at Lightforms Art Center in Hudson, NY. It’s an exhibition of paintings, and select ceramic pieces, by the renowned poet, potter, essayist, painter, and teacher M.C. Richards. In 1945 she joined the faculty at the innovative Black Mountain College, serving later on faculties in California, Chicago, and NYC. Her books range from the classic Centering (1964) to Opening Our Moral Eye (1996). In her later years she joined the Camphill Village community with disabled adults in Kimberton, PA. The works on exhibit were all created during the last decade of her life. This event is parallel to the launch of a new educational program at Free Columbia named after Richards. Film screenings, presentations on art and education, and on Richard’s life and work will take place while the works are on view.
Waldorf Education: A Family Guide is available in a new, completely revised 2nd edition. It is a good year to be publishing it: 100 years of Waldorf Education and 30 years of editor Pamela Johnson Fenner’s Michaelmas Press. We are happy to share a sample which includes the first page of articles from each section of the book, which gives a hint of the breadth and depth of this compendium as well as the illustrations from MaryBeth Rapisardo. The sections are: Waldorf Education – A Path For the Future; Early Childhood Through High School; Humanities and Science; Other Aspects of Waldorf Education; Reflections on the Art of Waldorf Teaching; Waldorf Education and Family Life; Seasonal Celebrations; and I Look Into the World: Initiatives Inspired by Waldorf Education.
Evening clouds, souther New Jersey, August

The pictures this time are August clouds, afternoon and evening, from southern New Jersey.

Thank you for reading, and for being part of this community—and thoughts of strength and equanimity to all involved in the new school year’s challenges!

John Beck
Editor, being human

Anthroposophical Society in America

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Applied Anthroposophy: check our our new year-long program, starting in September!

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