A newsletter from the Anthroposophical Society in America
banner image - being more consciously human
March 19, 2022

Dear Members & Friends,

This issue will focus on reflection, and next week we will catch up on news.

We are delighted to let everyone know that our online calendar is now very much fuller due to the good work of Marta Stemberger—and of so many branches, groups, and individuals in creating offerings locally, online, or both. The activity is very impressive!

So in this issue we will have details only on two ASA Sophia offerings, webinars and conference, which seem especially tuned to this moment of time.

Do please visit the calendar (at anthroposophy.org/calendar). [Presenters should also add "calendar@anthroposophy.org" to your mailing list.]

Our images this time are some March scenes from the New England coast to NYC to Michigan to Southern California. Note that we are now welcoming suggestions about visual-artistic works which might be meaningfully sampled in this wide-angle format.

New England window

Being Here

As we have often felt farther from each other during the pandemic, and perhaps closer now through the war news to people far away, so there is the question of a being present with us and among us. Spiritual beings are beings of potential, and this being may be said to be our own shared human potential—all that we can be—and the awakening to that potential. “Anthroposophy” can be approached as a (very complex and dynamic) concept for the intellect, but there is also “Anthroposophia,” the Sophia-being of aspiring and striving humanity. And so...

This April 21-24 will bring a face-to-face conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sophia Rising: Unveiling the Wisdom of Being Human, to draw closer to this Sophia-being. It looks like a chance to revel in not staring at a screen!

“You will be an active participant in this gathering that will engage storytelling and biography, art and color, eurythmy and movement, singing and speech, with offerings from speakers Carrie Schuchardt, Mary Stewart Adams, Hazel Archer-Ginsberg, Stephanie Georgieff, and more. Come and experience Sophia Rising as we honor the elements, the landscape, and each other.”

Please read more about, and register for, the Sophia conference here.

Whether you aren’t ready or able to travel, or want to prepare for the conference in more depth, Tess Parker has also announced a three-part Sophia Rising webinar series:

March 28, at 4pm PT/7pm ET
Sophia according to Rudolf Steiner and Others - Robert McDermott; Opening Song “Body of Water” with Circle’s Edge, Ultra-Violet Archer, and Morgan Vallat; Images of Sophia - Angela Foster and many voices; Enliven the Sophia Within - Michele Mariscal

April 4, at 4pm PT/7pm ET
Svava Carlsen - Sophia; The Fountain of Human Love and Understanding, exploring the margins of soul and body through observation and dialogue. “As the God-created soul is naturally predisposed to human understanding and human love, why are these qualities not active as a matter of course in the social order?”

April 11, at 4pm PT/7pm ET
Dennis Klocek - Sophia Becomes Natura, & Angela Foster - Conscious Creativity with Soil and Water

Full details on the Sophia webinars are here.

Vineyard Haven harbor

The Value of Human Life

The latest “general secretary’s letter” from John Bloom was published on February 12th. Here’s a link if you missed it. He included the following timely observations about today’s perception of the dimensions and grounding of human life:

In a way, we are in a sixty-year build out of what former president Dwight Eisenhower referred to in 1961 as the military-industrial-complex. Though he was speaking primarily about economic forces, those forces have morphed into a technology-identity-complex that is questioning and redefining the very nature of what it means to be a human being even while profiting from it. While there is science in this process, that science is founded in a presumptive system that sees technology as the primary path to perfecting the human being.

Such a belief system denies the spiritual laws and evolutionary significance of reincarnation, laws that have endured not only through anthroposophical knowledge but also through other traditions and across centuries. Singularity, the term applied to this perfection in the transhuman movement, does not in any way equate to Rudolf Steiner’s imagination of individuality. It is just that the transhumanists are aiming to free the human being from the natural limitations of the physical. In opposition to this, Rudolf Steiner characterized one’s physical body as an interim home for one’s evolving individuality. What Rudolf Steiner attempted was to bring an understanding of reincarnation forward as counter to the ever-increasing materialist dialogue. The following from Rudolf Steiner spoken more than a hundred years ago brought home for me the continuing challenge to the reality of reincarnation even in the details our economic practices:

But all external life as it presents itself today is the picture of a social condition which, in its development, has excluded, has indeed refuted, the idea of reincarnation and karma. External life today is organized almost as if there were a deliberate desire to quash any possibility of people being able, through their own inner development, to discover the reality of reincarnation and karma. In point of fact there is, for example, nothing more hostile to a real conviction of reincarnation and karma than the principle that a person must be remunerated, must receive wages corresponding to their actual labor…But people must become alive to the thought that no fundamental conviction of reincarnation can ever flourish in a world order in which it is held that there must be a direct correspondence between wages and labor, in which a person is obliged, through the labor they perform, to obtain the necessities of life.
[Rudolf Steiner, Reincarnation and Karma: Their Significance in Modern Culture (GA 135), Stuttgart, 21 Feb 1912; SteinerBooks, RSArchive.]

Snowy subway tracks, Brooklyn

Suffering & Sophia, from Rudolf Steiner

In Awakening to Community, just a few weeks after the burning of the Goetheanum (pronouns updated, emphases added):

But now let us weigh the consequences this implies for anthroposophically oriented persons. We cannot just cut ourselves loose from external life and practice. We have taken flight into the Anthroposophical Society, but life’s outer needs continue on, and we cannot get away from them in a single step or with one stroke. So our soul is caught and divided between our continuing outer life and the ideal life and knowledge that we have embraced in concept as members of the Anthroposophical Society.

A cleavage of this sort can be a painful and even tragic experience, and it becomes such to a degree determined by the depth or superficiality of the individual. But this very pain, this tragedy, contains the most precious seeds of the new, constructive life that has to be built up in the midst of our decaying culture. For the truth is that everything in life that flowers and bears fruit is an outgrowth of pain and suffering. It is perhaps just those individuals with the deepest sense of the Society’s mission who have to have the most personal experience of pain and suffering as they take on that mission, though it is also true that real human strength can only be developed by rising above suffering and making it a living force, the source of one’s power to overcome.

The path that leads into the Society consists firstly, then, in changing the direction of one’s will; secondly, in experiencing super-sensible knowledge; lastly, in participating in the destiny of one’s time to a point where it becomes one’s personal destiny. One feels oneself sharing mankind’s evolution in the act of reversing one’s will and experiencing the super-sensible nature of all truth. Sharing the experience of the time’s true significance is what gives us our first real feeling for the fact of our humanness.

The term “anthroposophy” should really be understood as synonymous with “Sophia,” meaning the content of consciousness, the soul attitude and experience that make us full-fledged human beings. The right interpretation of “anthroposophy” is not “the wisdom of man,” but rather “the consciousness of one’s humanity.” In other words, the reversing of the will, the experiencing of knowledge, and one’s participation in the time’s destiny, should all aim at giving the soul a certain direction of consciousness, a “Sophia.”

March milkweed pods, Michigan

A correction. Jonathan Hilton’s astrosophy site is a dot-com (we had said dot-org last time): www.astrosophy.com. His current articles include a two-part essay, “Love in the Time of War: a Meeting of Venus, Mars, and Pluto.”

The recent two-part star wisdom webinar on Three Powerful Women is now available in the store, recorded, along with the Rev. Jonah Evans’ presentation on The Heart of Easter.

The next print edition of being human is on its way to members, with news including Nathaniel Williams’ 2023 move to Dornach to lead the international Youth Section, and the addition to the General Council of Christine Burke and Margaret Runyon.

Thank you for reading, and be well!

John Beck
Editor, being human

Anthroposophical Society in America

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March vista, southern California
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