To the Article ‘North and South Can Bring About a Sense of the Whole’ by Hartmut Weber, as it appeared in Issue # 26/2008 of ‘Goetheanum’
‘The same festivals can be celebrated in the northern and in the southern hemispheres at once.’ This is an excellent topic for debate. It has already been taken up by Michael Debus. (See Issue # 39/2007.) The opposite view is proposed by Hartmut Weber. (See Issue # 26/2008.) In fact the question is an existential one, as well, which affects the whole of humanity.
One must allow that there are decided differences between the course of the seasons and the festival situations. These are not understandable on the intellectual level, where Anthroposophists are generally eager to enter into debate.
During my first journey to New Zealand and Australia, I was leaning toward the thought that it would be better to celebrate the opposite festivals at the same time. The title of the article by Friedrich Benesch, ‘Is Christmas in the Summer?’ questions the feasibility of the same festivals for both hemispheres. However, he refuses to run into confounding entanglements. Benesch clearly comes out with the answer: ‘Yes, the South can indeed celebrate Christmas at the same time as the North.’)
In any case, it cannot be very easy in the southern summer, to set up an imitation Christmas tree made out of plastic. Fortunately, destiny sent me to Brazil. There, on a 29 September, I was observing a northern Michaelmas while in southern Sao Joao del Rei (Minas Gerais). At that time, I experienced a Michaelmas procession passing through the place. Such a traditional procession of the folk shows that, much the same as St. John’s Day, Michaelmas is not a celebration bound strictly to one Sunday in the year.
The reality of Brazil taught me a radical lesson. The country lies distinctly over the equator, but toward the northern hemisphere. Could two festivals then be valid at the same time? Or should those who are more or less in the middle be torn apart as to which festival to celebrate?
Naturally, quotes from Rudolf Steiner are often used and misused. One solution is to remain as much as possible on the pictorial level as to the differentiation of the course of the year from the festival times. In accordance with The Anthroposophical Soul Calendar, one can clearly have an overview of two complementary circles while understanding the meanings of opposite verses. This was pointed out in a communication from Rudolf Steiner to Fred Poepig. One can assume that it must be correct in a Michaelic Age to take both hemispheres equally into consideration. This is exemplified by taking in ‘Verse A’ in the seasonal experience of northern hemisphere, next to ‘Verse A-‘, which is the inner experience of the southern hemisphere in the opposite season.
On the other hand, let’s look at the festivals themselves. At Christmas, we have darkness outside in the northern season with cold weather. However, in our innermost souls, light and warmth prevail. Only then is it truly festive. This inner-summer-of-the-soul is a meeting with the outer southern summer. Uriel, the Archangel of St, John’s Tide is working his effect from the other side of the earth. (See Rudolf Steiner, GA229 : Experiencing the Seasons in Four Cosmic Imaginations.)
It is also true vice-versa: When we are celebrating St. John’s Day in the North, it is bright outside and becoming warmer. In our inner-beings, however, we feel the need for a sense of historical conscience. This is an inner-winter-like kind of attitude related to the Archangel Gabriel who is prevailing from the South.
It was reported that children from Waldorf Kindergartens suddenly started singing Christmas Carols at St. John’s Tide. They were sensing the connection to the Archangel Gabriel throughout the entire earth!
In the Age of Global Consciousness, world festivals are needed, without arguing about what they are called. From the seasonal aspect, one can experience North and South as separately as male and female. Yet, the festivals can provide a bonding together of the whole of humanity. Each festival occurs at the beginning of the season, like as to an all-encompassing medicinal remedy against the one-sidedness of the seasonal experiences to come.
The humanity of the South can experience its own essence more on the living-etheric level, to which the South also has easier access. It is justified for the South to carry forth this attribute into all of its festival times. Now, there was something, said to me in the Waldorf Kindergarten of Rio de Janiero, which immediately enlightened my thoughts. It was about the Michaelmas festival.
In the North, it is valid to steadfastly strive against the ahrimanic forces of death.
Therefore, it is clearly proper to celebrate Michaelic-Festivals-of-the-Soul in the autumn. (What a wonderful double meaning there is in the word ‘Fest’! )*
The South can have the tendency to lose itself in a blur of luciferic outflow. Against that, it is beneficial to practice a clear and steadfast grappling with thought. For that reason, it is more suitable there, to celebrate Michaelmas in the springtime. (In the South there exists a wrestling with death in an inner sense, which runs parallel to the cold forces coming into the outer aspect of the northern autumn.)
Thus we have the ‘conjugality of the year’ through the festival experiences, as expressed by Novalis. For Rudolf Steiner it is not a question of names, when it comes to the spirit of Christ!
World realities are to be experienced, to which we actively respond, create, and form together. Only then can a festive meeting of human beings come about. With regard to Michaelmas, Rudolf Steiner once said, “For us there does not yet exist a proper Michaelmas Festival; we must first create one.” That thought can be extended to include our relationship to all of the festivals
Anton Kimpfler, Freiburg im Briesgau ( DE)
Issue # 28/2008 ‘Goetheanum’.
*Translator’s note: The modifier, ‘fest’ in German means firm, which can also bring up the concept of steadfastness, while the noun, ‘Fest’ means Festival.