A biweekly newsletter from the Anthroposophical Society in America
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February 28, 2021

Dear Members & Friends,

A first official national ceremony recently honored the half-million people who have died in the US in the pandemic. It was noted that this unfinished total surpasses all the American combat deaths in World Wars I and II and Korea and Vietnam combined. 

Today’s grief is more for parents and elders than for children, mostly young men. As in war, however, survivors have invisible wounds, notably  the nurses in the closed-off intensive care units. These life savers are usually the last ones to hold a hand, and like those back from battlefields, nurses may not even want to tell their families what they have been going through.

In the flu pandemic a century ago, mandated protective measures were also apparently very divisive. We anthroposophists are being specially tested, what with our larger picture of human being, of health and illness, of reincarnation and enduring spiritual identity.

That should not obscure another aspect of this moment: what we drily call the “excess deaths.” Rudolf Steiner spoke a verse around lectures during the Great War, reaching out to the angels of the departing. The “cloud” of souls prematurely separated which he experienced then was even greater in the late 1930s, right up to the dreadful atomic bombs the US dropped on Japan. And sensitive people reported after 9/11 a sense of intention among the several thousands who died abruptly on that day. 

What do the departed of this moment have to say to us? Who is listening? 

The latest newsletter from our Anthroposophical Prison Outreach has a fine reflective essay by Virginia Sease, “How Can We Help Those Who Have Died?” She quotes a poem by William Penn, where he observes that “We cannot love to live / If we cannot bear to die"—and, “They that Love beyond the world, cannot be separated by it.”

farmhouse, sheds, barn in a snowy mountain field


The Youth Initiative Program, YIP, based in Sweden, is an international project for “people who want to enact positive change in the world.” Their Initiative Forum is coming up in just a few days (March 3-7), and its theme this year is, “Are You Listening?” “Within the YIP courses, we have unearthed an ever present thread: the need for deep listening and awareness of ourselves, others and the world around us. 

“As human beings, we are in constant communication with each other and our surroundings. Yet amongst the clamour and bustle of everyday life, it is easy to forget to pause and listen. What does my body need right now? What is really being said here? How are my actions experienced by others? What would the trees say? These are a few examples of questions that foster true listening. What would happen if we asked ourselves questions like this more often?” 

Lectures will be offered by Managing Director of SEKEM in Egypt Helmy Abouleish; change-maker Théo Fischer; Orland Bishop from Los Angeles (on deep listening); workshops presenters will include Nora Rahimian of #CultureFix, Chicago’s Hazel Archer-Ginsberg of the Reverse Ritual blog, and social science educator German Gallardo who focuses on healing generational trauma. A short video and all the details are on the YIP site.

a snowy scene with fence and low cabin


“The Association for Anthroposophic Psychology and the Eckersley Shakespeare Trust are pleased to announce a five-part series: Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Illuminating the Challenge of Evil, presented online May 22, June 5 & 19, July 10 & 24. 

“Works of literature can take us most directly into the realm of the psyche, and Shakespeare’s plays offer nothing less than the deepest exploration into the mysteries of the human soul within the context of the True Image of what it is to be Human. The challenge of evil in Shakespeare’s Macbeth takes us immediately into the intensity of this darkest of areas, daring us to look squarely at its character and even its meaning as, with courage, we enter the encounter. 

“We are also led into further psychological fields: of sexuality, betrayal, illusion, power, guilt, isolation and abandonment, to mention some of the underlying motifs that come forward in the play. Importantly, however, we are led through deeper textual and psychological appreciations to discern how the guise of evil may become changed and alleviated through a careful approach to the play’s ‘Mystery’ content, one that touches secrets pertaining to the quest for Selfhood and Redemption. 

“The ‘architecture’ of this play, its geometrical and numerical structure, as elaborated in the lifelong research work of Sylvia Eckersley, creates in clear imaginative form a ‘temple space’ in which the drama of the play assumes its true proportions, drawing us into underlying themes and dynamics where intimate worlds of soul are illumined, distilled and transformed through new insight. 

“We invite you to join this multidisciplinary exploration of the human soul via one of Shakespeare’s most profound Mystery Plays. This work is guided by core faculty of the Association for Anthroposophic Psychology (AAP): Roberta Nelson, PhD and James Dyson, MD, as well as by Alan Thewless (Waldorf teacher, astrosopher and curative educator) of both the Eckersley Shakespeare Trust and AAP.” Further details here, and registration.

a birdhouse by a rushing stream


Though we all feel some kind of ending approaching of the global pandemic, expectation often makes the last wait harder. So it may be a good time to seek some helpful sharing; everyone knows that everyone else is struggling. 

A continuing resource is the Center for Biography and Social Art. Their mainstay is a three-year part-time certificate program, but now there are two-hour Zoom workshops for groups of individuals involved in Waldorf school and Anthroposophical Branches in North America. 

Also, Chris Burke is facilitating Zoom workshops; March 5th is on the theme, “What Ails You?” — the question Parsifal failed to ask on his first visit to the Grail Castle. Karen Gierlach has a workshop March 14th on Faith, Love, Hope. 

The quality of this initiative is suggested by the words of Rudolf Steiner quoted on their website: “Love is higher than opinion. If people love one another, the most varied opinions can be reconciled – thus, one of the most important tasks for humankind today and in the future is that we should learn to live together and understand one another.”

buildings by a river, near a mountain


One extraordinary event of “Covid-time” was the August 13-16, 2020, MysTech Conference. MysTech’s home page banner reads, “Applying Science of the Spirit to Explore the Mysteries of Technology and the Human Being” — and adds, “This endeavor becomes a set of moral questions that MysTech seeks to answer.” 

MysTech publishes a journal (edited by Rosemary McMullen), offers multi-level study groups, and presents events which are all recorded. Along with several other initiatives, it shows technology engaged expansively and expertly by anthroposophists in a way we might only have dreamed of a decade ago. Years of lectures by MysTech co-founder Andrew Linnell helped get this started, along with support from Frank Dauenhauer at the Center for Anthroposophical Endeavors in Seattle. 

The 2020 conference was all-online, designed with much technical ambition, and immediately had to overcome an onslaught of technology “gremlins.” The scope of topics was vast: genetics, resonance, eurythmy, biodynamics, color, elementals, spiritual science, consciousness, social, medical, physics, tone, AI, technology, radionics. Now there is a trove of recordings. 

At the conference page you can read presenter biographies and session descriptions, and then watch the whole four-day conference series for a reasonable fee (contact MysTech if you need help with the cost). Participants spoke of “enormously significant talent... stellar sharing... thoughtful, creative, respectful speakers... real esoteric knowledge about mechanical occultism... enlivening new people... the true and beautiful no matter where it may be hiding...” One concluded, “This morning I am at peace with the world.”

a wooden cabin


Dr. Adam Blanning has let us know that there is now a four-part set of videos on YouTube that share basic anthroposophic medical concepts in a way that assumes no prior knowledge. They were presented this past fall as an introductory workshop for a large training on the use of mistletoe in cancer treatment, with a fourth part added later 

“The presentations start by weaving together a lot of medical studies on warmth in order to build up a four-fold view of the human being, then shift to a three-fold view of physiology. They also introduce the corresponding basic anthroposophic vocabulary.” Each parts is 20-35 minutes in length. You can find the first video here; the full series is on this page, in reverse order (#4 on the left).


Sometimes it is nice to be read to. A modest man named Dale Brunsvold asked that we share information on his 17 years’ work of reading aloud works of Steiner. With permission of Steinerbooks in 2005 (and later Rudolf Steiner Press), “I began to post recordings of the works of Rudolf Steiner at www.rudolfsteineraudio.com. There are about 230 books up for free download, without the need to register.” 

There’s search, an alphabetical title page, a page with GA/CW numbering, and icon-based pages of written works and lectures. Dale adds 1-2 books per month. He is now also re-posting the audio files at rudolfsteiner.podbean.com for podcast streaming — a big thing these days. Many podcasts are also posted on YouTube as “Rudolf Steiner Archive” (not to be confused with the text-based site). Someone with the handle “karmapolicebureau” has even given some of the readings a painstaking visual montage treatment.

birds on a wire

Returning to “biography and social art,” there are two excellent three-part series on our own site with these practitioners. “The Art of Human Becoming” features Patricia Rubano, Kathleen Bowen, Leah Walker, Sarah Putnam, Linda Bergh, and Jennifer Fox, plus beautiful slide presentations. “Phases of Life: The Human Being Between Earth and Cosmos,” also in three-parts, is given by the late Patti Smith and Chris Burke.

The photographs of country habitations are again contributed by Dwight Ebaugh. 

Thank you for reading and viewing, and be well!

John Beck
Editor, being human

Anthroposophical Society in America

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