A biweekly newsletter from the Anthroposophical Society in America
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October 25, 2020

Dear Members & Friends,

Two weeks ago our annual members meeting took place online, with recordings now available free, including reports from the General Council, an excellent presentation of the work in the branches in the Western Region, and introductory and artistic offerings related to the School for Spiritual Science.

The AGM was followed by a stirring conference, Friday evening through midday Sunday: “Willing the Good: Love, Action, Healing.” Carol Cole of the Sophia Project and Renata Heberton of Angelica Village stepped in as first night keynote speakers, sharing their inspired and moving work of forming community around human needs and potentials.

Saturday morning Harrie Salman of the Netherlands spoke on “Three Paths to Community: Preparing the Future.” Sunday morning Peter Selg of the Ita Wegman Institute addressed “The Schooling Path of a ‘Culture of Selflessness’ in Our Time.” And the conference was closed memorably by the brothers Timothy and Patrick Kennedy conversing with deep simplicity on the thought that “The Challenge is Healing.”

Biography sharing and awakening, pre- and post-conference offerings, an experiential thread on “the Courage to Co-Create,” and six workshops (three of them double sessions) filled out a program enhanced by an online Art Dispersal and the Portland Eurythmy performance “Earth: This Being Human.”

Laura Scappaticci and Tess Parker and the conference team and support crew managed the technicalities and transitions so that a very fine experience was available. It was also notable for the many participating who could not have attended in person.

And you can participate still after the fact. Three conference packages are available now in our store, 1) The Society’s annual meeting is available at no cost, with two offerings related to the School for Spiritual Science. 2) The three Conference Keynotes and closing are a second option, including the Society meeting. 3) And a full conference package, an exceptional value, adds all the workshops, the eurythmy performance (until Nov 12), and a post-conference presentation, “The Foundation Stone and the Future,” by Margaret Shipman. 4) Finally, the three keynotes are available individually.

Goetheanum annual meeting
Kristen Puckett reminded us that members will also be able to view a livestream with English of the international annual meeting at the Goetheanum. “The invitation for and agenda of the AGM of the General Anthroposophical Society, postponed to 31 Oct 2020, were published in Anthroposophy Worldwide 9/2020. While members can attend via livestream, participation in ballots is only possible for those who are present in person.” Here's a link for information—but act now to be sure you will be able to log in. Use this link to the log in page; log in now or use the buttons to “Apply for access” or “Forgot password” and the GAS will assist you. Once logged in, click on the General Assembly button. Scroll down to Agenda to view the times, and to the bottom of the page for Livestream. — Times: Switzerland just “fell back” to end daylight savings time, but the US falls back only on Nov 1st. So this meeting’s times would be minus five hours for NYC, Chicago six, Denver seven, LA eight, making the opening 1am Pacific Time Oct 31st.
John Bloom
In the General Council meeting preceding the annual meeting John Bloom was unanimously confirmed as General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America (US) for a second, three-year term. And a new entry in his much appreciated series of letters to friends and members was published ten days ago. It begins, “Not only in this country, but world-wide, so much is happening with great intensity, and it is a lot to absorb as every experience is layered with complexity. There is a kind of static in the air that brings lightning where it normally does not happen in the environment, and there is interference in the inner space that sometimes feels disempowering. If you are experiencing something akin to this, I wish I could offer immediate comfort, but these are not comfortable times. It feels as if every thought has to be fought for, and every feeling wrested from the field of emotion or reaction. I have to ask, with whom or what am I fighting? Once asked, this becomes a pointed question given the Michaelmas season.” Read more...
Flight, a new sculpture by Martina Angela Müller

a new sculpture by Martina Angela Müller, currently on view at the Hawthorne Valley Farm / Hawthorne Valley School, in Ghent, NY.
Visit her website
for other views and works.

A continuing concern of teachers in the Waldorf / Steiner schools movement is availability of advanced degrees from accredited universities. So it was good news to hear from Torin Finser that Antioch University has launched an accredited doctoral program for educators with a Waldorf cohort in 2021. The EdD in Educational & Professional Practice, Waldorf Education, “is designed to prepare professionals who use educational practice in the service of more just and inclusive schools, organizations, and communities. Through a transdisciplinary curriculum that includes shared seminars in a diverse learning community, and individualized work within the Waldorf Education specialization, you will engage in scholarly inquiry into the theoretical foundations of Waldorf Education and anthroposophy. This degree is offered in an online, low-residency format.” Waldorf notables Liz Beaven, Torin Finser, Douglas Gerwin, Melanie Reiser, and Linda Williams have agreed to serve as mentors and possible dissertation advisors. Here are links for more details, and for registration for the free information session on Nov 12th. To apply, contact Jonathan Eskridge, Associate Director of the EdD Program (email).

Dan McKanan’s new book on Camphill

Dan McKanan Camphill book published. The Emerson Senior Lecturer at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. McKanan researches religion and social transformation. His new book, Camphill and the Future: Spirituality and Disability in an Evolving Communal Movement, was released October 13. The book will be featured at the online Camphill Research Symposium November 5, 12, and 19 (Thursdays, 11am-1pm). The University of California Press is publishing the book, and in addition to the paperback available for about $35, an open access electronic version will be available entirely free of charge to anyone with an internet connection. (Click on “Read now at luminosoa.org” on the UC Press page.) If you are buying a copy, Dan encourages you to order directly through UC Press to support similar publications in the future. — Of his annual class visits Dan writes in the introduction, “What my students do not meet at Camphill are starry-eyed utopians certain that they’ve found the true path for all humanity. Nor do they encounter passive inmates whose individuality has been stolen by an institution. Instead, they meet people who are, simply, at home.”


A flower gone to seed


“Willing the Good,” the theme of our recent conference, names one of what Rudolf Steiner termed “forces of the soul” — thinking, feeling, and willing — and its ideal, goodness. The ideal of thinking, of course, is truth, and the ideal of feeling is beauty. To fill in a rich picture, the cultural manifestations of these soul forces would be science, where thinking seeks truth; art, where feeling seeks beauty; and ethics or religion, where the will or intention seeks goodness. 

When dealing with material substance we are led to things, but when exploring spirit or consciousness we are led to beings. Thus in Steiner’s mystery dramas, first produced in Munich in 1910-1913, the soul forces are revealed as spiritual beings: Philia, Astrid, Luna. This is one aspect of why these are truly “mystery” dramas: we see humans helped by cosmic beings as the humans seek to recognize and work with those beings.

These days, thinking and feeling and willing are perhaps felt to be a little simplistic to be discussed as primary tools of human soul or psychic activity. And “truth, beauty, and goodness” are certainly too idealistic for practical discussions. In anthroposophy, however, Rudolf Steiner invites us back into a working relationship with the fundamentals of our inner experience, of our cultural heritage, and of the mission of humanity. 

To make another set of connections, science and thinking and truth are oriented more toward the past. Thinking works out of observations of what already is, and is anchored by truth. Feeling, where we feel our own identity most strongly, works to balance what has been done with what might come about, toward the goal of beauty. Will, a word which English uses as a helper verb to form the future tense, reshapes realities and wants to be guided by our ethical sense toward goodness. 

One more set of correspondences is with regions of the Earth and the particular capacities of people born in those places. Steiner connects thinking with the east, and with the mysteries of birth; the words “concept” and “conception” make the connection clear. In the central region is feeling, and the arts of healing; and to the west, including North America, it is the mechanical arts and the will which are specially enabled. The connection there is that technology and machines are material expressions of will. Hereabouts we might imagine that our particular challenge is to develop good will.

This all is a lot to consider, and it may be useful to know that Steiner’s great gift from the end of 1923, the Christmas Foundation Meditation or mantra, is a gathering up of these dimensions in a form that slowly comes to life in our understanding. With its help we may be able to perceive the true image of the human being, the goal of our development.

All of this came together in the very first keynote of this “Willing the Good” conference. Two women stepped forward at the last minute. Carol Cole built up the Sophia Project in California, to bring the Waldorf early childhood work into the lives of homeless families. In Colorado, Renata Heberton, inspired by the House of Peace in Massachusetts, started Angelica Village. It has been creating supportive community for people without homes or the common connections of life. The rest of the conference shed light on will and goodness from many other directions. 

After rising to the ideal thoughts and perspectives described above, it can bring an intense experience of beauty when we see how these great understandings have been put into practice by Carol and Renata. The mystery and majesty of the cosmic order works down into the finest details of natural forms — and can also work simply and powerfully into how we see each other, into how we help and are helped in a healing community life.

Berries on a vine

NYC Branch Keep Talking blog

Keep Talking (dispatches from social isolation)” is a blog response to the pandemic from Anthroposophy NYC, the New York Branch. Launched during the first peak last spring that hit that city so hard, it’s continuing, and well worth a look. “What qualifies as a Keep Talking item? Lots of things. Something you write (keep it to a page or three at most), for example, about an encounter with a neighbor or nature, an insight, an inspiration, a revelation, a terrific quote, a snippet of life flashing in conversation you overheard or took part in, a page from a great book or lecture (with your comment) — you name it. Also, a portrait or photo or poem (written or recited), a short video you make, a reminiscence — and don’t forget the spirit of humor (cosmic or homespun). Send gifts from what wells up out of this singular period in our life as a community and culture.” Dorothy Moore and Walter Alexander are the curators; email them with “Keep Talking Contribution” in the subject line. We found painters, musicians, an actor speaking poetry, and lovely short essays and poems. More than just a warm gesture, it reminds us why we miss seeing each other!

Dr. Georg Soldner, Goetheanum Medical Section

In addition to the annual meeting mentioned above, the Goetheanum Leadership is offering a series of talks on current challenges under the heading “The Signature of Our Time.” They are presented live at the Goetheanum every Monday up until Christmas and each lecture will be available one week later on video, in German with English interpretation, accessed from the website. The first contribution by Georg Soldner, deputy head of the Medical Section (pictured above), is available now. He spoke on the subject “Covid-19 - What Medicine Can Learn from the Pandemic?” Further topics: “We poor children of kings: Corona and the social challenges of our time.” — “‘Building bridges to the radical right’? Anthroposophy during National Socialism.” — “Can we comprehend what is foreign to us? Interculturality in the 21st century.” — “Are we turning natural science into a religion?” — “Individual responsibility in the time of Corona.” — “Digital challenges in education.” — “The hidden sun. Why culture and art make us human.” — “The importance of meditation and inner development for human health.” — “How is our behaviour reflected in the ecosystem? Agriculture’s current perspective.”

Fewer flowers persist through the cold nights in southeast Michigan now, but leaves are in their glory, and our photos this time look at a few exquisite seeds and fruits.

Thank you for reading, and for being part of this community of spiritual seeking!

John Beck
Editor, being human

Anthroposophical Society in America

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Check our event calendar for seasonal offerings, and consider the free webinar by Hazel Archer-Ginsberg on the origin of the All Souls festival.

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