A biweekly newsletter from the Anthroposophical Society in America
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May 23, 2021

Dear Members & Friends,

The important but little-known festival of Whitsun or Pentecost is fifty days after Easter, and therefore a moveable feast, May 23rd this year. It is a very beautiful time in the temperate northern hemisphere where it is a festival of flowers, as we recognize below (Dwight Ebaugh's photography, excepting the dandelions).

apple blossom


The International Youth Initiative Program (YIP) is a 10 month residential “societal entrepreneurship” training, based in Sweden, for 18-28 year olds. YIP 14 starts August 29, 2021. Three years ago being human printed two short, first-person accounts by YIP participants which you can read online.

“After two years of dry college lectures and empty written assignments, I realized I was tasting an education that wasn’t nourishing me. The world is full of confrontation, challenges, and suffering. I was asking questions and looking for my place to make a difference.” Lauryn Witco (Morley) (more)

“I realized how thirsty I was to be in a learning environment that welcomed me. One day could encompass singing, body movement, writing, and getting our hands in the dirt. An educational environment that took my whole being into consideration gave me confidence to believe in myself. I was able to witness, through my own and my peers’ unfolding, the importance of valuing different ways of learning. For the first time since my childhood an excitement for my future began to move through me.” Kailea Frederick (more)

YIP uses the term “societal entrepreneur” to describes people who base their actions in service of society and understand the world as one living organism. This paradigm points to the interconnectedness of global systems and new ways of working toward a more equitable world. Through allowing young people to explore this paradigm and with it to face and develop themselves and society, YIP seeks to support them to become leaders of a new, more sustainable and integrated lifestyle and future.

Questions? Monday 7th June is a live Q&A with the YIP organising team members on Zoom. Learn more here.



So long ago it seems, at our fall conference in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2017, the keynote was given by Shepha Schneirsohn Vainstein, a psychotherapist in Los Angeles specializing in trauma recovery and personal empowerment. Shepha is a facilitator of Nonviolent Communication and the Way of Council, a long time Waldorf parent and advocate, and president and co-founder of re:Generation, whose motto is “Imagine the Potential: Christian, Jewish, Muslim children together.” She now has a number of inspiring collaborators who bring to life the headlines of this initiative: Working across Difference. Fostering Resilience. Reviving the Spirit. Building a trauma-informed peace education movement. It is good to think of re:Generation as we ponder the devastation in Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank, and imagine the future.

Yeshayahu Ben-Aharon, co-founder of Kibbutz Harduf in north Israel, has reposted part of a lecture, “Israel and the Global Melting Pot” given in New York City in 2002, just after 9/11.

“These are the pains of convergence. They are burning intensely because there is no way out. Israel is a tiny place. You cannot solve the Israeli dilemma by physical means because there is no place to go. You cannot do it as the Europeans have done in two world wars and just recently again in Yugoslavia, when they said, ‘Let’s concentrate all the Orthodox Slavs here, the Muslims here, the Catholic Croatians over there, Divide & Rule, divide et impera!’

“But that’s impossible in tiniest Israel. It’s completely mixed in Israel. There is nowhere to go. You cannot really expel the other. The more you chase them away, the more we are integrated. Creating this melting pot of all the religions is the coming task of humanity in the present fifth cultural epoch, until the middle of the 4th millennium. These religions are destined to disappear physically and spiritually in the course of the next millennium. The positive spiritual impulse of the future will create a center into which will flow all the past traditions, world conceptions, religious systems, and philosophies into one united synthesis of all the disparate parts.

“This is the mission of the coming 1000 years. When we experience it, we can say — ‘Beware, it’s working, it’s beginning, and everything is already melting.’ If you dip your finger a little bit into the situation, you can feel the fire working; it’s very hot. And you don’t have to dig so deep in Israel to feel the molten core, to feel the fires from underneath, from above and from all sides… the center of which is Jerusalem. Where it is the holiest, there it is burning the most.”

The lecture is included in Spiritual Science in the 21st Century: Transforming Evil, Meeting the Other, and Awakening to the Global Initiation of Humanity. This large collection includes also “Israel in the Midst of the Clash of Civilizations” (Munich 2004) and two lectures on the American High Tor legend from the Hudson River valley.

blue gentian flowers


Anthroposophy’s interest in the Christian festivals arises from its far-reaching pictures of human evolution, affecting all of us, an evolution of consciousness, which Rudolf Steiner described. Whitsun is not based on any more ancient festival, but is part of the mobile Easter sequence. The resurrection at Easter was in a body that no longer had forces of death in it.

The Risen Christ remained with the joyful disciples for forty days of teaching before the Ascension into the clouds. This departure was felt as a grievous loss, but on the fiftieth day, Pentecost, standing in a circle around the mother Mary, a wind swept through the disciples and a flame descended on each of them, and they had the power to speak their special knowledge and be understood by all.

Flowers are suitable in many ways as a metaphor for this day. Aren’t they the speech of plants? Here the greatest refinement of the vegetative world is opened upward to bees and hummingbirds and other winged members of the animal kingdom. Similarly, the higher centers of development in the human astral body are anciently imagined as blossoms, lotus flowers, wheels, chakras. And heightened human consciousness is nourishment for higher spiritual beings. The chakras are “sense organs of the soul” which must be developed with intent, from the crown of the head to the tail of the spine. Steiner focused on three chakras in “Some Results of Initiation” in How to Know Higher Worlds:

Thanks to the spiritual organ situated in the vicinity of the larynx, it becomes possible to survey clairvoyantly the thoughts and mentality of other beings, and to obtain a deeper insight into the true laws of natural phenomena. 

 The organ situated near the heart permits of clairvoyant knowledge of the sentiments and disposition of other souls. When developed, this organ also makes it possible to observe certain deeper forces in animals and plants. 

 By means of the organ in the so-called pit of the stomach, knowledge is acquired of the talents and capacities of souls; by its means, too, the part played by animals, plants, stones, metals, atmospheric phenomena and so on in the household of nature becomes apparent.

The top or “crown” chakra is represented properly by a halo centered at the crown of the head, the last place where the bones of the skull fuse in an infant. This lotus flower of a thousand petals opens the widest awareness. Perhaps the “flame” descending at Whitsun indicates the awakening of this chakra. Steiner adds,

“It is of supreme importance that the student should be a rational and clear-thinking person, and of further importance that s/he should practice the greatest clarity of speech.”

Such in the importance of Whitsun, Pentecost, also considered the advent of the Holy Spirit, who is identified in the John gospel as the Spirit of Truth. For human existence is no accident, as anthroposophy makes clear; ours is a cosmic mission.>

a lotus flower


Whitsun/Pentecost seems an appropriate time to speak about speaking. Along with its challenges, the internet has given us many new opportunities to share anthroposophy, and Bill Manning of Minnesota, engaged with anthroposophy for decades and recently retired from the practice of law, has a new web site which combines his human interests and professional reflections. The two came together most recently in a conversation with a young lawyer and coach named Andrea Yang which you can view on YouTube here.

Several years ago, in an interview with SteinerBooks’ William Jens Jensen, Bill talked about his path into anthroposophy, how it informed his professional life, including the story of a remarkable client, and how he sees us standing in the world.

“I am concerned about anthroposophy. The world is moving so quickly that Anthroposophy is not recognizing anthroposophy in the world. As Steiner told us, yes, we can look around and see Ahriman incarnating all the time and present in all kinds of way, but at the same time you can also see this enormous spirituality going on. And I think that part of our responsibility as anthroposophists is to recognize that.

One of my passions is the study of Nelson Mandela. “The world can’t really recognize what happened there; the world is dominated by a kind of caucasian view. There’s this incredible spirituality, with Desmond Tutu and Mandela and so on, and we find a majority who forgave a minority oppressor. This is the Christ being; this is love and an incredible selflessness that we try to come to with ‘Not I, but Christ in me’ and ‘Not my will, but Thine be done.’ But here is an example of that being played out on the world stage in away that is unimaginable and may never happen again.”

Bill is most willing to speak about Mandela. “The talk has been given to many different types of organizations, businesses small and large, non-profits, law firms, bar associations, churches and synagogues. The talk is fresh each time and addresses President Mandela’s biography as a tremendous spiritual leader, great lawyer, and a person who developed and acted out of a deep inner life. These talks lead to robust discussions. ...If you are interested to more fully understand and discuss the impact and the inspiration of Nelson Mandela, please contact me. This talk is offered pro bono.”

Mary Tom brings dandelion roots to True Botanica


Many plants are part of the wellness-promoting arsenal of anthroposophic medicine and personal care. Patricia Kaminsky and Richard Katz of the Flower Essence Society, Nevada City, CA, explained their focus on flowers for for Jonathan Stedall's 2012 film The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner.

Anthroposophy inspired the well-known imports from Europe, Weleda and WALA, organizations were founded in 1921 and 1935, and Dr. Hauschka Skincare in 1967. In the USA, being human has written about True Botanica and Uriel Pharmacy. Ross Rentea, MD, of True Botanica shared with us some insights about a well-known flower of May.

“The Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) is a little plant that has mighty health benefits. The slightly bitter leaves are valued in salads to stimulate the liver and kidney functions, and the yellow flowers have the extraordinary ability, as Rudolf Steiner explained, to attract the right amounts of cosmic (homeopathic) silica (quartz) to unite in the earth with potassium. The roots are a major health remedy also, and Mary Tom [pictured above], one of our friends, has been nice enough to dig up and bring us roots of the dandelion in her garden, protected from harmful chemicals.”

The two US providers are very small but devoted companies, and Dr. Rentea added that “our current administrator needs to cut down her hours so we need another enthusiastic person to take her place. If you know of somebody please contact us.” (262-912-0970 or online).


Thank you for reading and viewing, and enjoy the beauty of the flowers!

John Beck
Editor, being human

Anthroposophical Society in America

Anthroposophical Society in America (US)
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