A biweekly newsletter from the Anthroposophical Society in America
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September 12, 2020

Dear Members & Friends,

Last time we mentioned the fire situation near Santa Cruz, CA. The fires have been extraordinarily widespread and dangerous statewide and in Oregon and Washington. Southern California has had tremendous heat, and smoke problems have been widespread. The news is full of apocalyptic orange skies in the Bay Area and north, caused by smoke at high altitude. Our writer friend Mary Anne Kirkwood in San Francisco wrote two days ago, “Only about 12:30 pm...and in the orange glow...street lights are still on...more like Mars...whoa...we really are in unprecedented times out here...”

There is far too much serious news in several directions so on a lighter note, a columnist for one of the “progressive” magazines (Mother Jones ) has opined that “There’s No Better Word to Sum Up This Century So Far Than ‘Pod’.... ‘Podding’ is the name of the game during the pandemic.” School pods (something like homeschooling) or friend pods are new, but podcastshave become a mainstay—streaming radio. There are many good ones at “The Anthroposopher” when you want good conversation. The latest from Laura Scappaticci is “A World Without Art” with guests Laura Summer and Matt Sawaya. Hopefully it is really about a world with art!

APO Walkathon
Anthroposophical Prison Outreach understands the current “lockdown” situation literally, providing a lifeline of deeper meaning to those experiencing years of incarceration. The main fundraising event for APO is its annual Walkathon: “Walk a Mile in my shoes.” It's for walkers or cyclists, the location is anywhere, and the distance is up to you including spreading it over a weekend, September 19-20-21. Follow the link to find out more, including how to make a pledge in honor of someone who is walking or to set up your own page. — If you’d like to know more about the program, Eileen Bristol wrote about APO’s twenty years of service in “Prison Outreach: 20 Years of Service” in being human a year ago.
Anthroposophy Worldwide online
We reported how the Goetheanum (as we call both the General Anthroposophical Society and its great building in Dornach, Switzerland) has created an online video presence, in several languages. Its Anthroposophy Worldwide newsletter is also online, in two formats. There is a PDF Archive that would be good for viewing on a larger screen or downloading to print. Another page has individual articles and is much better for mobile and small tablets. Currently when you scroll down on that page you will find a short report from our own Laura Scappaticci: “Everything seems to be changing.” Its brief statement of facts is a gentle antidote to sensational pictures that have been circulating for months of the USA supposedly engulfed in rioting.
Raphael St. Michael detail
The modest folk and church festival of Michael and All Angels (9/29) occupies a special place in anthroposophy. It marks a great festival-in-becoming which Rudolf Steiner encouraged us to bring into life. — In the soul-educating process of the seasons of the year, late September begins a time of powerful recommitment when human beings raise themselves to higher spiritual awareness and can therefore be confidently placed into the death forces of the Earth, to overcome and redeem them. There are special events among many groups, and online this year—check the new calendar. — And there are two timely recorded webinars which you can download from our store  and watch or listen to at any time. “Michaelmas: Hearts Begin to Have Thoughts” with Rev. Patrick Kennedy is free, donations welcome. “The Challenge of Evil," with Bastiaan Baan, is a three-part series, and one of our most popular webinars to date.

Joseph Beuys, Cosmos and Damian Polished (1975)
Photo © Tate, CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)  

9/11: Love, Service, Remembrance

Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of the “9/11” attack using hijacked airlines on the World Trade Center in New York City and on the Pentagon outside Washington. One student of anthroposophy who died in these attacks is known to us.
Marsha Post, the branch administrator and a national council member, organized a remembrance a year later at the New York Branch. 

“In the last years of her life, Patrice Paz studied Rudolf Steiner’s Outline of Esoteric Science four times through. She loved anthroposophy and wanted to share it with others. The devotion she felt toward anthroposophy she also carried for the employees of Aon Corporation where she was a vice president. On September 11th, as they were evacuating from Tower #2, she noticed that one person was missing. She told the others to keep going and went back to find a pregnant co-worker who could not walk the stairs. Patrice died helping this individual. 

“To further her life's intentions of sharing anthroposophy and helping others, her husband, Rolando Paz, and the Anthroposophical Society in New York City set up the Patrice Paz Fund for Introducing Anthroposophy in New York City.”

The fund was used in the branch's program and outreach efforts of the next few years.


Rockface, Sept, NE California


So let’s imagine that empowerment is the fundamental higher law of the cosmos, and that we are apprentices from the higher levels of consciousness, descended into the physical condition to fill it with empowering love.

These simple words must sound rather cartoonish, but fill them with the intensity of feeling that we experience only for moments: the intense gratitude when we have been seen and helped by someone else; the joy of reaching new and significant understandings; the fulfillment of meaningful accomplishments; the anguish of loss.

Just as some ideas are more profound and moving, so there are feelings whose strength gives life a new quality. The departure of a dear friend or parent is often the occasion for emotional realizations as to who they really were, and are, as is the motivation that comes from observing the dedication and innocent suffering of others.

As we manifest ourselves as individuals, personalities, we are mostly not very strong or consistent yet in carrying out this great human mission. The threshold to becoming a conscious agent of this change is a shedding of attachments and controls, including desires and fears, that come to us with this life in a physical body. Gathering the strength of emotional realizations helps us achieve a kind of dying to this conventional personality so that we can enact in a sustained way our deepest intentions.

We are supported in this by the whole life of the Earth. The more frequent extremes of weather seem like a rebuke to our egotism, a challenge to our lack of will, as if a parent of millennial patience finds it necessary to“ speak sharply to the children.”

Earth’s regular seasons are a steady and persistent education for the human soul. Rudolf Steiner’s Calendar of the Soul provides us with a weekly guide (which we must adapt a little or a lot to our location) to what that lesson plan is offering. It properly starts in the spring, at Easter, but Michaelmas is another good time of year to take it up.

In the process of the Calendar, for the temperate northern hemisphere, we have spent some time being lifted into heights of consciousness by the summer outbreathing of the Earth. We are as yet only dimly aware of this exaltation.

Now the season changes, the light and warmth diminish. We gather in the summer endowment, we wake in the cooling weather, and we face again the evil in the world: things coming at the wrong place, the wrong time, which test us and demand strength of purpose.

Dan McKanan interview
Michaelmas is a harvest festival in a very deep way, and Dan McKanan’s 2018 book Eco-Alchemy: Anthroposophy and the History and Future of Environmentalism even shows a golden harvesting image on its cover. Our being human magazine had a fine appreciation of the book in last spring’s issue by physician David Gershan. When the book first appeared, Dan was interviewed about the book and about anthroposophy for the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. That very interesting piece is available online as “A Vision for the Future of Environmentalism.”
Fred Amrine - Keryx Books
Frederick Amrine, a distinguished professor at the University of Michigan, wrote the outstanding essay on Rudolf Steiner for being human in Steiner’s 150th anniversary year, followed by many other very fine pieces. Recently he has been translating: “Over a hundred titles, mostly translations of Rudolf Steiner, are available from Keryx books on Amazon. All are very reasonably priced. Highlights include the Karma lectures, the Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts, an abridged version of the Philosophy of Freedom, and many introductory essays suitable for beginners.” Here is a link to his Amazon page by way of “Amazon Smile.” [If you shop with the “Amazon Smile” feature, a small fraction of your purchases goes, at no cost to you, to your non-profit of choice; Anthroposophical Society in America is an option.]
New ASA events calendar
We are rebuilding our online calendar so that you can submit your own “more-than-local” events, workshops, web conversations, and gatherings. It shows up now in the navigation menu for anthroposophy.org as “Event Calendar”; hover on that menu item to show the submissions link. — Your event will appear as soon as we check it, a precaution to fend off any spam submissions. (Insert frowny-face here.) Naturally most upcoming activities are still taking place online, including a Michaelmas event organized by the Central Region and our national conference in October.
Dried cone and pine needles, Sept, NE California

“When one speaks about the sociableness of man, one has to know that suffering and showing compassion are the actual prerequisites for becoming a social being.” —Joseph Beuys 

The pictures this time are from Northeast California in a smoke-free September 2009, a dried pinecone and needles above, and further above, a commanding rock face.

Thank you for reading, and for being part of this community—and thoughts of strength and equanimity to all!

John Beck
Editor, being human

Anthroposophical Society in America

Previous e-news are available online.

Quick reminder link:

Our fall conference will be taking place wherever you are.
“Willing the Good: Love, Action, Healing” is October 9, 10, 11. Pre-conference activities and the ASA annual meeting on Friday the 9th during the day, and the conference opens at 4:30pm PT, 7:30pm ET.

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