The Art of Colour
Elisabeth Wagner-Koch and
K. Theodor Willman
Translated by Katherine Rudolph
© 1980 Verlag Freies Geistesleben GmbH, Stuttgart
Cover: Gerard Wagner
Printer: Greiserdruck, Kastatt
Bookbinding: Spinner, Ottersweier
ISBN 3 7725 0707 7
Preface to the English Edition
Order of Paintings
A View of the Artist: The Hermit and Human Evolution
K. Theodor Willman
Developmental Steps in the Painter’s Life and Works
Gerard Wagner, Elisabeth Wagner-Koch
Colour Paintings by Gerard Wagner
Quest for the New Isis
Questions Concerning Death
Teachings of Nature
Poems written for Paintings
K. Theodor Willman
Cupola Motifs of the Goetheanum
Isis and Madonna
Sleep and Death
Teachings of the Divine Natura
The Architectural Concept of the Goetheanum
K. Theodor Willman
Mystery Motifs in Art History
Madonna Motifs of Raphael
Isis Motifs in the Poetry of Goethe’s Time
The Quest for the New Isis in the Works of Rudolf Steiner
K. Theodore Willman
Preface To The English Edition
Gerard Wagner, who was born on the 5th April, 1906, passed over the threshold on the 13th October, 1999. Theodor Willman, who wrote much of this manuscript, lived to be over 100 years old. Since the original German edition of this book, work in the Archives has been done by Elisabeth Wagner-Koch and the “Wagner Verein”. We are now fortunate to have over 4000 colour paintings and many prints of the works of this 20th century master.
For more information, please contact:
Elisabeth Wagner or Caroline Chanter
CH 4143 Dornach, Switzerland
Telephone and Fax: +41-61-701-1382
ORDER OF PAINTINGS
Quest for the New Isis
Questions Concerning Death
The Dance of the Seven A
The Circle of the Twelve O
67 x 100*
*The measure is in cm, height x width. All paintings are Aquarelle, plant colour
In primordial times
The Spirit of the Earth
Went to the Spirit of Heaven.
Entreatingly, he said:
“I know how to talk
With the Human Spirit,
Yet I pray to know
That language, as well,
By which the world heart
How to speak with the human heart.”
So the kind Heavenly Spirit
Gave the entreating Earth Spirit:
To choose paintings out of the entire collection of a painter’s life and creation, be it to make an exhibition or a book, always causes one to perceive that paintings are not like fruits, which we harvest in a basket. They are rather, like the flowers of a garden which are unfolding and blooming before the gardener’s eyes, each one a masterwork, out of the cosmos of light, out of the bedrock of the grounds of the earth, out of the lap of the being of seasons – evolving from Mother Nature herself. They build the organism of the garden: “Imprints of form, living and continuing to unfold.” When creations out of the art of colour were still rooted in the wondrous structures of Mystery Centres and in the sanctuaries of cathedrals, their mythical images were displayed along the surfaces of holy vessels or along the walls of mystery centres. They were sometimes even carried during open-air processions and in pilgrimages. They illumined the scenes of temples, appearing on columns and in paintings on walls of the inner sanctuaries, as well as outside.
Later, painting moved to the painters’ studios, the “Hortus Conclusus” of their workshops, or to the interior of monasteries. The unveiling of works of art was always an act of initiation, which transported the onlooker into reverent visions of the higher worlds.
The “persona” of the painter retreated humbly behind his work of art. The praise intended for his talents, was directed toward heavenly creation itself. The fame of the great masters arose out of the conception that true art is based on mystery wisdom. Those who were masters in stone or metal, colour, or tone were said to be initiated into the world of archetypal pictures and archetypal tones out of which all earthly manifestations spring forth.
Works of art have become more and more accessible to the eye of the public. Dürer’s copperplate engravings and wood sculptures are now often seen exhibited in the markets of Nürenberg. Cantatas and oratorios resound in cathedrals, to the amazed ears of the listening congregations. However, the artists themselves are withdrawing more and more into their own workshops or studios, into their solitary “Faustian” monologs, far removed from kings’ gold and the wealth of market places!
Art has entered into the realm of individual autonomy. Similar to the resourceful thinker, the artistic spirit has been grappling with the substance of his creation – with stone, bronze, wood, colour, clay, and the word. The artists’ works have gained originality. Their creativity now carries the imprint of their individualities.
Therefore, the art critic is met with the artists’ destinies, their interests and their decisions concerning karmic questions:
“Truly modern artistic criticism cannot be bound by aesthetic conceptions: each work of art assumes a new appearance, and each judgement has its own criteria. Art’s true creative genius works by its own rules.” Rudolf Steiner 1
The practice of artistic criticism, art experience, and knowledge about art now emerges out of the moment of artistic genesis. An inner battle ensues in the hidden shrine of the individual’s artistic fantasy. This allows artwork to constantly regenerate.
Many of the complete works2of the painter Gerard Wagner have been catalogued in chronological order in the Archives of his painting school. The variation and stages of his development have become apparent. Many motifs of his research are represented by the selected paintings. Others are not yet included at this writing. The sequence about the physiognomy from youth to old age, in which the portrait of a boy gives rise to colour research involving the human face in the dynamic process of aging, has not yet been included in the collection at this writing.
The Individuality of Colour: Exercises along the Path of Painting and Colour Experience 2a has now been written and published. Thanks to its careful representation of the painting process in artistic creation, this book is not only a help to painters and art teachers, but also allows whoever takes it up to glimpse a methodical approach gained through years of experience.
In this volume, an in depth analysis of Gerard Wagner’s methodical process in each individual work of art has not been undertaken. Rather, it is given over to a visual empathy with the “Being of Colour”, experienced in the language of poetry. The attempt has been made to present a poetical text which gives a concordant word, sound, metre, and sense impression of the archetypal colour experience, as it is woven into the beautiful tones that ring out of the paintings.
In such a way could an independently developed organ of the study of art perception actively unfold. This has led to new faculties of discrimination, concerning the understanding of beauty: “Contemplative Fantasy” lives in inner dialogue with the artwork and with the creative artist himself, awakening us to new levels of artistic awareness. Thoroughly perceptive aesthetic feelings as well as sense observations are enhanced through the basic, thought-provoking, meditative elements which have now come to light. Don’t imagine that eyesight as we know it can view what the artwork discloses. One does not interpret the wonder of the natural revelations or the artistic mastery itself; rather, it seems that the eye and the hearing as such, become newly awakened to that which they were not previously able to sense.
There is an element associated with the painting which needs to be communicated out of the many experiences that have been shared throughout years of artistic experience.
The autobiographical section “Developmental Steps in the Painter’s Life and Works” brings understanding to the whole pictorial framework of this book. There can the observer experience the step by step progression which are awakening the human being of the present time and helping him open up to new worlds of perception of elements related to the “Being of Colour”.
Although there is always a difference between the original colour and the smaller colour prints, modern technology is on the way to developing the means to recreate impressions of the creative forming forces and to permeate them with the beautiful life impulses living in these incomparable works of art. Our technical means has enabled an intuitive perception of the original masterpieces which flows into the stream of human artistic experience.
What is “moral technique” in art? Could it ever come to benefit human progress without “moral Fantasy”? Can these faculties be learned?
At the basis of these questions lies one of the all embracing, yet subtle tasks of cultural pedagogy, to foster true art centres for the present time, far removed from commercial exhibitions and the deadening mausoleums now called Art Museums. Thereby would Artistic Archive Centres become places of higher learning, devoted to fantasy of the highest order. The artists’ prints and art books would in this way serve not as substitute representations of art, but, actually to inspire and facilitate learning – as a general preparatory schooling. These centres could fulfil the task of bridging the gap between the artists in their lone studios and the world at large, to promote a true artistic culture in the stream of modern times.
The commentary accompanying the collection of Motifs in Gerard Wagner’s paintings doesn’t refer only to the ancient holy content of the works, but also seeks to acknowledge a spiritual progression in modern art. In such a way, the roots of such artistic development can be made visible as well as the underlying impulse. Creating individual art out of anthroposophical conceptions necessitates understanding of the forming forces in man and nature. 3
A View of the Artist : The Hermit and Human Evolution
Whoever has experienced the solitary voice of absolute individuality in the stream of inner quiet, when the sense of the single word “I” is beheld as a star-eye in the groundless universe, can also perceive the soul becoming free, for that moment, from the bonds of bodily existence. This can occur in the sphere of a dewdrop radiating colour-breath early in the morning, or in the song of the nightingale enkindling the soul with yearning desire. Suddenly one approaches an inner touchstone where he alone can direct his attention to the far-distant circling-spaces, beyond the stream of time. His hearing turns to the resounding cadence of a language far from the visible or audible perspective which flows out of the widths beyond; each syllable, each sound begins to unfold with heightened understanding. The etheric colour of clouds appears uplifted from the earthly realm; the far distant firmament seems to meet with the human senses beyond space, time, sound, colour, and intellect.
The One in the All, the All-Encompassing in the smallest particle discloses its enigma as a portal opening in the soul’s inner depths Whoever has met this “Moment of Astonished Wonder” will tread with bated breath, self-possessed in step and demeanour, given over to the thought which directs his consciousness. The soul grows silent and aware that each moment is made manifest with enormous capacity to actively touch and fulfil one’s whole being: I am amazed, astounded! The consciousness hearkens, as if in a state of suspension still as stone, captivated in astonishment… 4
Plunging again into the stream of life one returns from this moment, having traversed the edge of the veil of sense perception to eternal being, beyond space. The sense world will now appear as shadow land. One seeks to recover the archetypal realms of higher attainment, to find the traces which can link darkness to light.
As the tapestry of darkness thickens before his eyes, one knocks harder, seeking entrance through the door in the wall. The dead end world with its rocky cliff becomes like a picture image of one’s own astonishment, indeed a mirrored reflection out of which a thought is wrested and set free, as gesture arising from the shadowy forms : I have intimations of thought! In the wink of an eye that same astonished wonder returns: the cliff opens up; stone becomes as soft as beeswax in a hive. The sheath becomes like a sheltering cave: “I am inside of that stone”. Light breaks though darkness. Bright shines the crystal ground which carries him:
Does the door close up, before such hard won inner depths?
Thought unfolds from thought, then dissociates from thought itself – does it become memory? Doesn’t a milder warmth disperse, now from all sides? Like the lustre of a well, springing up above the cliff-wall, floating downwards, like a silver-hued wave in a flowing stream…
“Wonder ensues – I feel bemused. Freed from astonishment I transcend into the stream of time. The space around me transforms itself into flowing light. Wonder is forming me.”
As a germinating seed, the plant comes into being. Its feeling life, form, and growth into image engender awe: I wonder at it. Existing form dissolves into new transformations. Change holds sway: Wonder turns into bliss, budding form enwraps itself: Blossoming evolves – I am again in awe, inhaling the beauty of the world. That which spiritual research, since time began describes as the seed of astonishment has fashioned an understanding in me, a life of the soul; I feel the reverence which comes from wonder. I am learning to revere the wellsprings of life – yet in the face of life’s dissolution, fear and trembling build up in me.’ Does a seed become enclosed in the fruit, sheltering life in the wilting and decay of fleeting time?
The coloured-moth’s winged-eye caught my fancy, tempting me, so like a blossom, upwards towards the light of the world. The leap out of the clear grounds brought forth this question: “Have I lost the light-filled form that I held before in my hands, as the sun’s golden ball?” 5
Is that fashioned-light-form concealed transformation of being, shape-changing, shapeless chaos, perishable decay?
Astonishment changes into courage, wonder into compassion.
Reverence bows down in face of the inner depths of the self and disappears into its inmost being, which is frightening. Proving-grounds, experimental painting practice, compassion, courage and thought seek for firmer support, one’s own sure inner light.
Here the soul begins to become aware of its own being of light and its own darkness as well: the physiognomy of self turns into that being which stands transformed before its own eye.
Animal being has grown evolved. In the same way that wonder changes into fright and shock the astonished soul becomes aware at this time of its dark depths, awakening feelings of shame and timidity in itself. In stiff, limiting constraints, hard as the cliff, are instinct and desire imprinted into animal being. Does the germ of shamelessness reign? Can beauty still prevail when the shape is in constant flux?
Whoever has spent time contemplating the activity of an animal6gazing eye to eye with an animal, experiences a Sphinx as mirrored reflection of the self and so confronts a riddle of his own nature. Not only does he understand the bird in flight, the lion in his anger, the ox’s strength or the fish-tugging in its watery element; but out of this conquest questions arise: Does each animal’s nature find it possible to change and evolve to higher levels of existence? Can dead stone be changed into rich garden soil as in the old Persian myth, where a golden plough was given to King Dschemschid 7 by Ahura Mazdao?
Can grass seed be transformed into nourishing grain? Could the greedy wolf be tamed and change into the guardian of the sheep? Can mankind master himself and achieve such virtue that each instinctive motive becomes refined and ascends to a higher level?
Coarseness, barbarity and timidity vanish in the face of compassion and courage. The upturned-eye reaches to the universal sun sphere whose rays transform each soul force into humility and inner fantasy! “Ahura Mazdao” creates each morning anew, transforming the world: “Compassion becomes freedom” – “generosity becomes love”.8
Like Helios, guiding the sun-coach, driving his horses for eons of time through world-wide spaces; the godly being that fires and illuminates me, reins in and halts, sets foot in the sun coach and takes time’s reins in hand until he finds the light within, the conception of the sun idea in the universe, the guide of the self in my highest individual being.
At the zenith-heights does the fiery coach alight and one treads the peace-filled starry fields.
“A shepherd tends heaven’s lambs, guides them down, provides those created ones with the pulse-beat of the sun…
Each being receives a new name from his breath; the voice of fantasy speaks inside them and transforms the world into pictures.”9
“In archetypal picture being, the archetypal selfhood becomes newly-born: I think, I feel, I will become humble devotion to all beings of the world: World-thoughts, world-perceiving, world-will become effective in the “I am”, effectively working together at the whirling loom of time – and weaving the living fabric of the Godhead.”10
World-sadness and godly-creative wrath11 waft through artistic fantasy maintaining harmony with the worlds through the solitary being of individuality!
The works of Gerard Wagner lead to pathways of astonished wondering, reverence, loyalty and accord with the world-manifestations. These have been brought to consciousness through the proving grounds of experimental colour exercises. Thus presence of mind, creative-will in the human senses, and positive courage for the world can take root in the human soul.
“To wonder at beauty
preserve what is right
respecting what’s noble
resolving the good” 12
DEVELOPMENTAL STEPS IN THE PAINTER’S LIFE AND WORKS
Seeing and hearing – concerning picture language
The art of colour is a secret and silent art and yet it contains “dialogues” of the kind, which the painter carries on during the process of painting: speaking without words. Paintings speak in colour and form from the soul of the painter out of his dialogues with the world; in this process colour is ensouled and carried into the picture-world (if we are dealing with true art). This colour-soul-being appears simultaneously objective, yet it exists separately from its creator in sequence of time. The answers which sound in the soul of the contemplator are formed by the soul’s own deepest inner voice. Objectivity, in a process of creation requires observation of this innermost kind of dialogue. So in this sense people of the most varied backgrounds and dispositions can come to similar experiences while gazing at true art together.
A hunger for pictures lives in the body and spirit. And the richer in soul one is, the more he or she will tend to contemplate and actually bring forth inner pictures. While the painter ‘speaks’ through colour and form, the poet ‘paints’ with words.
There exists an inner union of harmony of the senses in the relation between eye and ear – a meaningful connection: it is a visual kind of hearing, an auditory kind of seeing, a thinking touch, a tactile thinking, a living in warmth and cold, in rhythm and balance, in movement and rest, a simultaneous experience. All of the senses are brought together into one sense in the contemplative soul. With this ‘eye’ we must learn to see, for art desires to be viewed. Our everyday eyes and ears which quickly register and relate, are not able to comprehend a work of art. In seeing and hearing as such there lives a meeting between individualities, between the ‘I am’ and the world.
Through the eye, the ear, the sense of thought…we perceive the being and word of the creator of the artwork who, if he is really an artist, stands aside from his own work. We forget the artist and live into his creation. What is it that, confined to the smallest space, can manage to draw us so securely into its influence. Wherein does the specific effectiveness of the painting lie? Why this remarkable union of forms and colours? We step into the world of beautiful appearances, indeed this world becomes at once an essential moral reality in us. We plunge into the ‘word and being of picture-forming essence’, which, once seen, becomes integrally united with us and influences us whether we remember it or not: good or bad, awakening or laming, harmonising or destructive, healing or boding ill, conscious or unconscious, whatever the effect.
It reminds us of the true responsibility and meaning of visual art: of the education of mankind through the sense of sight and through the picture that the eye beholds.
Therefore, the veiling and unveiling of the holy wonder-working pictures at certain festival times of the year or during religious ceremonies was an act of healing magic. A likeness to deeper human and world-mysteries was revealed. Since ancient times has the “Veiled-Isis” represented an archetypal picture of enduring reality. The ceremonial picture was the beginning of all visualisation. United with the Mystery-Word, it possessed magical power. And thus was mankind led to understand the sense-world in pictorial thought. Picture and word served as link for the development of consciousness from thinking in pictures, to purely spiritually perceptible, abstract thinking without pictures. Out of a soul-spiritual experience of self in colour and light a new picture-making and beholding can be born as a creation out of nothingness. The following disclosure of the words involved in the two columns of the temple has stood at the threshold of the holy mysteries since the beginning of time: “Joachim and Boas” – in the innermost temple, are a pictorial representation of godly being:
In pure thought shall you find
the self that can hold itself strong.
Change thoughts into pictures
And you shall experience creative wisdom.
Transform your feelings into light
Thus you can make forming forces manifest.
Forge your will into being
and you will create in world being.
– Rudolf Steiner 12
“The Quest for Isis” is a relevant quest for painters. It leads into the cosmos of colour, into the world of archetypal pictures, into the essence of the memory of human civilisation, as the true motivation for art.
From life on earth there arise the “Questions Concerning Death”. Taking matter, evil and the potential of renewed life-through-death into account, we see, as Goethe writes : nature’s art experiences death in order “to have even more life”. For the painter, it means employing the colour black in the process of wilting which takes place as the lustre colours congeal. Through the methodical use of black in such a death process, the painter’s experimental practice is directed towards an understanding of natural processes.
From the “Questions about Death” there develop, as if in answer, the “Teachings of Natura”. These teachings in turn lead to the possession of new artistic abilities, which live in the sphere of artistic creation, which entail comprehension and mastery of etheric lawfulness, and training processes concerning organic life. Such teachings were first acquired in Rudolf Steiner’s “Structural Thoughts about the Goetheanum”. Thanks must also be given to Rudolf Steiner who penetrates the thinking of those who follow through with these steps. On such a path, art in the light of mystery wisdom can receive new seeds for the future.
Retrospections of Childhood
When a painter stands in front of his easel and paints, he is making journeys; and on these journeys, having experiences; and the experiences penetrate more deeply than any others that he could possibly have.
Therefore, one should look at a painter’s paintings, if he wishes to learn something about the painter’s life. For on these painting journeys, the true painter unites much more with his own deed than he can realise, or consciously will in the moment of creating.
If in the course of a biography one wants to hold to that which was meaningful on the painter’s path then, from the first a problem occurs; because when one goes back in the memory and looks into nature as it appeared – then every single thing becomes meaningful. The little child sees the smallest, most separate thing: the violet, the spider, the anemone, the grasshopper…everything that grows and crawls, that swims and flies, in short, everything that catches his eye as if it were of the greatest interest.
The child’s eye is alive and sees the life within each thing; and this life speaks directly and utterly to the child’s living awareness. He becomes what he sees and therefore every impression of that time is meaningful. Only later does the painter notice that the colour experience which he is trying to bring about has an inner relationship to the quality of his sense-impressions in earliest childhood.
An early call to attention for the painter’s destiny was to be heard when one day, an English governess was leading her two children along a path through woodlands and meadows. To the children’s amazement she bent and scooped up a handful of spawn near the banks of a small pond. This she placed in a large jar in the nursery and tended it until tadpoles wriggled out and gradually turned into little frogs. Finally she painted a picture of this process in watercolour on a large paper which she put up on the nursery wall…
Gerard Wagner was born on April 5, 1906 and died on November 13, 1999 in Arlesheim, Switzerland. His father died when he was two years old. Four years later his mother moved with her children to Northern England where she had grown up.
After the requisite schooling, the young man, by then almost eighteen years old, went to St Ives, a small village of painters and fishermen on the furthermost west cost of Cornwall, where he studied landscape painting. His teacher was oriented to colour rather than sketching. The young student set up his paintbox alongside his teachers, in the small harbour; or in its winding lanes, between fisher boats and wash lines. An old barrack on the seawall where in days gone past herrings had been dried served as a studio. There the young painter invited the oldest fishermen to sit for portraits. Cliffs and water, but especially the changing play of light and the powerful beauty of the elemental life of a seacoast, fashioned the environment of this first learning experience. Landscape and fisherman’s portraits became the motifs, oil painting, the technique.
In the following year, the study was continued at the Royal College of Art in London, in order to complete a sketching training. The buildings adjoined the Victoria and Albert Museum, which the students could enter by means of a door inside. Thus, the hall where Raphael’s tapestry boards were hung was often visited in the pause at midday.
London offered many opportunities to study the great masterpieces of past centuries. One delved into the ancient worlds. The monumental works of the Assyrians, the Persians, the Egyptians and the Greeks transported the contemplator into those age-old cultures which called forth a feeling of reverence. The stimulus from out of the sphere of painting was without end, from the earliest beginnings to Raphael, Leonardo, Rembrandt, Turner, van Gogh…which up until then he had only known in reproductions. Through comparing the originals with these he learned to differentiate between the authentic and the unauthentic in art.
In London, Gerard Wagner became acquainted with the thought world of Rudolf Steiner. He became a member of the Anthroposophical Society and, in the summer of 1926, went to the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.
One year after the death of Rudolf Steiner, three years after the burning of the first Goetheanum, there was a strong spirit of constructive activity on the Dornach hill. The masterful concrete architecture of the second Goetheanum stood half-finished in its skeleton of planks and boards. The work towards its completion was in the process of being fulfilled.
The fundamental concept of building, which was the impulse, did not confine itself only to the architecture of a building. In all fields of artistic and spiritual life the underlying “principle of building” was being established, as such. This kind of building works into the future, extending from generation to generation, and each one who takes part in it for a time, carries in his own inner forces an impulse for the culmination of the whole work.
The young artist, not yet knowing the language, relied almost totally on his sense of sight. He was taken to Rudolf Steiner’s models and those of his co-workers, who had carried out the work. He saw the buildings which were the result of those plans and the beauty of their living proportions.
He was given the honour to observe the engraving of the coloured glass windows done by Assja Turgenieff and her co-workers. There, light lived in colour, as if it were speaking. The intense red, green, blue, violet and rose illuminated the light-cut patterns of the occult motifs in the windows.
The sculptors Oswald Dubach and Carl Kemper were working on models of the building. Albert von Baravalle showed his fine sketches and models which principally concerned the West Façade. Scott Pyle and Jan Stuten were painting scenery for the first Mystery Drama 48, for which Marie Steiner and the actors were rehearsing. At these rehearsals, as well as those for Eurythmy, Gerard Wagner was often present. Without realising it with full consciousness, he felt the impulse – how, united as one, each person could attain to more than that which he or she could have attained singly. And the impressions from the stage at these moments when, out of innermost activity and true selflessness, an experience of sound was imparted were especially wonderful. He could believe, in such instances, that the true goals of humanity were to be experienced.
The centre of work was the Schreinerei (wood working) hall. During the day, there was not only the machinery of the builders, but at the same time, a good deal of the artistic and administrative work going on in the most limited space imaginable. Here the carving of the great portals for the Goetheanum took place, as well as the rehearsals for actors and eurhythmists, and all lectures and artistic events.
On the wooden walls in the Schreinerei hall every Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon were the programme posters for the artistic performances: large water-colour paintings which Henni Geck had fashioned in accordance with the “Motif Sketches” of Rudolf Steiner 12a. These paintings made an enormous impression on the young painter. Such satiety of colourful glowing lights, such certainty in the forming forces, had he never before seen. These motifs were not taken from the world of the senses which he had observed until then. They were unique, complete in their form and their captivating effect, without a trace of naturalism: a totally new art of painting. On the background of this many-sided spiritual and artistic activity can the path of Gerard Wagner’s painting be viewed. The particular originality of his development would be unimaginable in any other setting. Constant study and contemplation of the artistic originals of Rudolf Steiner’s sculptural and architectural models, sketches and paintings 12b – the direct experience, which could only be conveyed through the presence of the originals: these were the conditions required in order that the new artistic and spiritual impulses would not only be present in thought but could be grasped through the entire living organism. In this place nothing of the past teachings could be connected. All the forces of the young painter’s talent were given over to new purposes. And, thus, the work of Gerard Wagner cannot be separated, either in method or meaning, from those wellsprings of which he had just become conscious: the living source of Anthroposophy.
From the Painter’s Notebook
In the year 1928 I was accepted by Henni Geck to be a student in her painting school. At that time the instruction took place in the Schreinerei. There, in Rudolf Steiner’s studio, the high ceiling housed the large wax and plasticine model of “Die Gruppe” – the “Representation of Mankind”. All around, suspended from the walls were the originals of the “Path of Study for Painters” 12a and the “Motif Sketches” : both a new sculptural art and a new art of painting. Here the spirit of the teacher and the earnestness of his style of work was still alive.
Henni Geck had been present as each of the sketches had come into being. Following an indication of Rudolf Steiner’s we were instructed to transform the motifs, which were given in pastel, into the water colour experience. In that process we had not only to hold strictly to the forms surging forth, but also to give attention to the proportional balance in minutest detail. Henni Geck always gave us the sequence of colours. After nine months – through tragic circumstances, the instruction in the form ended. Later the sketches were placed in the Goetheanum where they were accessible to students and interested people. But that short training period was of permanent value for all later years.
“I had only painted the first three motifs ‘Sunrise’, ‘Sunset’ and ‘Shining Moon’. Through careful contemplation and perceptive experiencing of the colours, lines and forms of these representative sketches, something was brought to life within me. My all-consuming interest could only be expressed in the words, ‘These are indeed organisms’. One experienced something in these forms, something of which one had to say: ‘They are exact, that is – no accidental or arbitrary formations. They are not made in the likeness of any natural objects but the particular points of their form and movement are at the same time so adapted to one another, carry and determine one another to such a degree, only as in the limbs of a living organism, where every detail is connected with the whole in a necessary relationship. They are not copies of something – they live.’
This perception was something which would remain, and, gradually, decade after decade, would become more and more conscious.
The instruction had left me with a great riddle. Rudolf Steiner constantly states that form, arising out of the colour, should be the deed of the colour. One can assume that it happened in this manner in his own paintings.
Now, we had started each of the three beginning motifs by painting vermilion red – following the indication of the sketches: the first in the form of a rising sun, the second in the form of a setting sun, and the third in the form of three crescent moons. And a question arose in me: ‘If we began three such different motifs with the same colour (as a first step on which paper, then – how does this relate to the above statement?’.
I began to look for the answers. I asked myself: ‘If I were to change one colour ever so slightly in the build-up of the “Motif Sketches” (of which the first ones are painted with only three or four colours), how then would the form change?’ In this I followed a suggestion of Rudolf Steiner’s that one might paint on colour-tinted paper or imagine before painting that the paper was colour-tinted.
Trial research sequences followed, painted on single papers of the same format: one colour, sometimes two, would follow, where one of them would change ever so slightly from row to row (for example, from blue-green to yellow-green, from cool-red to warm-red and so forth). With the colour change arose the question of the corresponding change in form. The difficult endeavour was made to take part in the life of colour, through one’s own experience.
And there the goal was set. ‘How does one find the way into this life of colour? How does one learn to direct it so that the overall element of life can permeate the whole painting? How does living form arise out of colour?’.
Those are the big questions of the present whose answers may be sought for a whole lifetime. One never knows the answers, but makes trial after trial in the process of experience. In that consists the greater part of the work that is finally brought forth.
This method of practising evolved in order to train the perception of colour quality. For the Sketches of Rudolf Steiner had taught one thing from relatively early on: that living element into which one’s colours are constantly immersed and through which they are formed and made visible, can only be grasped through a perception from which the merely ‘subjective colour feeling’ has fallen away. One is seeking for an entry into the living, into the world of forming forces. This can only happen by setting up a method of study by painting one quality of colour being into the world of another.
So, I was standing at the beginning of a long road at that time. Many years were spent in seeming endless practising. To predict how long it would take to come to the ‘Beginning of Painting’ – to be able to paint a painting, as one would aspire to – was of course, impossible. An intimation of years, perhaps twelve to fourteen was felt for this painting development.
The question about form coming out of the colour, and to what extent it can be answered, depends on the ability to allow the colour experience to objectively and intensely permeate one’s being until it arrives at form. It isn’t until much later that one knows why it is so hard and what it means. The many trials in which one paints colour after colour on the paper, and still experiences nothing, are not to be avoided. Only in single instances, suddenly as lightning, has the perception reached the ground of true experience. One endeavours to grasp it, and find it again; as the years go on, these moments gradually increase. One day this process must flow from a constant wellspring of activity.
But even if one can never reach the goal of painting out of the forming forces – of lifting the Veil of Isis; the training itself is a path toward becoming a complete human being, and whoever discovers it can only begin to tread it. Learning becomes the only grounds for painting.
A special help in eliminating arbitrary subjectivity is in an exercise given by Rudolf Steiner which shows the way to ‘qualitative’ measuring 13. Measuring a proportion of colour is so important because it helps the painter to wake up, direct the movement of colour in the course of his development. It allows him to let his activity ‘dream into’ the experiencing of colour. At the same time he strives to sacrifice all his experience into the doing itself, to hold back none of his own feeling. That perceptive feeling must become at the same time, selfless, disciplined, pure-will activity.”
Through the “sequence of colour choice”, through “measuring” it and
”weighing” it, the forming itself emerged. The painter gave himself up to the colours as authority in that he sought to find the sources of their origin. Numbers of trials were made to let plant and animal forms come into being. An attempt was made to approach the forming forces in painting the human being “from out of the colour”. Rudolf Steiner has given many indications which lead into these spheres of existence. They begin with grasping the forces of sun and moon in the living organism of nature and the human being, and go step by step to the four great watercolour paintings of nature and man, which embrace the entire path: “New Life”, “Easter”, “Archetypal Plant” and “Archetypal Man” or “Archetypal Animal”.
The Motif “Threefold Man” became the key to extensive research into the forming forces of the human being from the point of view of archetypal forms. For these paintings of Rudolf Steiner’s come out of the structural organisation of archetypal world pictures – and between the world where they have their archetypal being and our world, here where we earthly humans stand, there lie all the realms of nature. We are being invited to discover these realms anew from the inside-out of colour itself.
Whoever tries to tread this path can come to the conclusion that, he who can sufficiently follow through with the indications of Rudolf Steiner, can come to grasp the creative forming forces of colour and actually form with these forces in the life element without causing disharmony. In that Rudolf Steiner has given us such representations from out of colour-forming life, he has set a goal into the far future of painting.
“Having the artistic work of Rudolf Steiner always at hand was the necessary prerequisite to take the path. At the same time, there was the intense experiencing of spiritual life in Dornach, including the arts of Eurythmy and the Theatre, the effect of individuals like Marie Steiner, Albert Steffen and the many others who made their imprint. It is evident that all of this had most intense influence on my own work. It would have been unimaginable without these impulses. Rudolf Steiner had disclosed goals of humanity in connection to art and science.
The merely personal became devoid of meaning. Gradually the ‘experiments’ with colour, which became more and more consistent in their execution, from year to decade, took one a more distinct form. They led to sequences of metamorphosis which represented an endeavour to come to cognitions in terms of painting through methodically becoming one with the colours.
All the painting could find its place basically within the range of this experimental practising, for the paintings were done, above all, to build the ground for the relation between colour and its forming principles. The thought of painting ‘pictures’ that would eventually be exhibited or sold, appeared quite distant to me. The process of painting itself, immersing oneself ever and again in these mysterious beginnings, to hold and carry the colour in sway and balance, – that was what interested me. Not to push or pull the colour into an aforesaid Motif but rather to let it evolve through ever more exact insight into build up the rightful sequence of colours are the source of the Motif – forming. Such was my intention.
That is not only a painter’s problem but also a musical one. In the same way that the following of tones and intervals occur, so also do colours make their way through time, and become visible in space. In the wink of an eye they appear on the surface of the paper and there they are actually at the ‘end of their journey’. Their homeland is the astral world; they come through waves of etheric vibration into picture – forming and finally, they become, in their own right the forming essence in these forces. Therefore in the process of forming, the Motif first becomes conscious as it is manifested through the rhythm of the colour sequence. The Motif first becomes fully existent in which consciousness of the whole human being can come to fruition.
In 1950 the sculptor, Elizabeth Wagner-Koch became my first painting student. Through the endeavour to make my path teachable and learnable, as far as it went, to another person, a working together came about, which through the course of the years evolved into a painting school. The book The Individuality of Colour has became a fruit of this working together. 2a“
To avoid misunderstandings let it be emphasised that when “colour” is spoken of here, the visible colour alone is never meant, rather a kind of colour-perception that is developing to be ever more independent from the colour which is outwardly perceived. This new colour-perception does not appear immediately. It can take years until one day, only for a moment, one has the feeling that this colour experience has dipped into living reality. It must become possible to recapture this colour experience whenever desired. Because one is led into the living element through colour – perceiving, one comes into the realm which is the creative force behind Nature, that is – the ever present spirit of nature. Thus the training for colour experience proves to be the preparation for a study of natural science akin to the spirit: a science of the living, which becomes an artistic contemplation in picture-form.
How does the soul-life penetrate into this living essence? How does the astral body delve into the etheric? That is the big question for the painter, who, in his way and in his realm of experience, is seeking for organic form, in art. It is the same question as how colour becomes motif. The fact that the real answers are to be found in the works of Rudolf Steiner is also understandable when in order to learn, the student undertakes to make a study of the paintings in order to come to a perception of the processes behind end results like “Sunrise”, “Sunset”, “Moonrise” and “Moonset”, “Madonna” and “Easter”, “Archetypal Plant” and “Archetypal Animal”. The longer one is occupied with these picture forms the more one finds that they are a never-ending source of creativity, and that one is actually still at the very beginning.
In his lecture “Impulses of Transformation for the Artistic Evolution of Mankind” 13a, Rudolf Steiner places the being of the various arts in connection to the sheaths of man. In the region where the astral body delves into the etheric body, where there is a manifestation of the soul-life creating form within the actually rhythmic living field of forces – there lies the realm of painting.
Astrally, colour manifests in its essential being as an objective element of the soul world. This essential being is imprinted in myriad ways, moving differentiating and creating form in the world of etheric formative forces. The painter strives to develop a unity in colour and form, which, in the end can convey a totally human experience. The process to words such as unity is the motif, whose pictorial form appears at the end.
If one takes a sequence of colour in this overview of complete oneness, and paints for example on various coloured backgrounds in progressively changing steps, one can cause a transformation of form which responds to an inner necessity. Each picture involved is indeed a wholeness in itself and develops into a self-kindled colour balance. But each also has its own place in a sequence of pictures belonging to an entire set of logically connected colour forms. In this way each picture follows as the proving grounds of the one before. By this method of painting an experience of metamorphosis can be conveyed by over viewing the whole of the sequence which has thus come into being.
While in the process of such exercises, many surprising insights come about relative to the inner connection of the aforesaid “Motif Sketches”. They seem to be something like spiritual locations, from which paths are emanating and to which one can come to again and again from the most various directions, as if finding one’s way back to a “junction”.
For one who looks back at decades of seeking and sees these relationships gradually more and more clearly, it is astounding to have a glimpse of what actually lies behind the apparently unattractive motifs which carry the name: “Training Sketches”.
Following a desire to find out how Rudolf Steiner’s last motifs “Archetypal Plant” and “Archetypal Animal” could have come into being, how they are related on an inner plane, and in what way they lend themselves to further development in single forms of animals and plants, there came an awakening to ever new questions which led to numerous sequences of exercises. They developed out of the impulse to learn and at the same time to make the results visible in order to verify them, which can best be done through comparison. There was also the impulse to convey something to others concerning this possibility for a controlled method of painting.
The main factors that must be heeded to determine a plant metamorphosis, those which work together to bring about form, are basically threefold:
The periphery (the colouring of the paper)
The impulse from the ground (below)
The being of the plant (inside) – which is experienced as a colour sequence.
In the two rows that are shown (38, 39 of the Colour Paintings here included ), the first painting is similar to the East Motif of Rudolf Steiner. Through a slight colour change the motif is transformed into one that is similar to the archetypal plant motif.
It is impossible here to go into the guiding factors of the transformation in detail. Due to the reduced size of the reproductions it is not altogether possible to see this process.
Here we must refer you to the portfolios of “Plant Metamorphoses”, “Animal Metamorphoses”, and “Transformations of the Elemental World in the Course of the Year”, as well as to the exercises for the method of painting and colour experience which we have just mentioned.
In the examples which are given here the basic working principle is all that can be brought to view, however an insight into the basis out of which they come into being cannot be given as in the case of the above quoted publications.
Equally extensive are the indications given by Rudolf Steiner in relation to questions asked about “Handwork and Clothing” and about “Physiognomy and Aging”, “Incarnadine”, or “The Races of Mankind”. In these exercises the guiding impulse is always sought from out of colour itself. Here also, methodical procedure has resulted in the same surprising fruitfulness and certainty of purpose.
The painter has been often met with the objection from the artistic field that he is pursuing science and not art, or with the opposite objection from scientist – that his works hold no value in terms of natural science. However these considerations do not affect the present strivings which should perhaps be characterized as “results observed by the artistically-directed soul following the natural scientific method in quest of artistic freedom”:
To imagine the substance
of inert lifelessness
in life and spirit
is the artist’s goal.
To give the
shape and solidity
to fleeting mobility
is the researcher’s striving.
And when they reach
they must encounter each other
– Rudolf Steiner
About the Cupola Motifs
The motifs for the Cupola paintings of the first Goetheanum provided a model for constant inner striving, at first involved with seeking the overall moods and later more in regard to the necessities of form and shape and the inter-relationships of the Motifs 14. Even though the Motifs become quite apparent in the eyes of the beholder, they are never the less “the deeds of colour”, as are the other pictorial representations of Rudolf Steiner. They can be experienced as if one motif were to wander through the various hues of the rainbow which covered the Cupola in great waves of colour – and while on its path, the one motif became transformed, corresponding to the colour worlds into which it dipped and flowed. It is necessary in order to penetrate into these motifs and their forming principle to become conscious of the colour backgrounds out of which the forms grow. As in the “Training Sketches”, the Cupola paintings as well are filled with a kind of objective life. They also carry the principle of metamorphosis in them.
Consider the way one might experience the shapes of single bones for example, in an animal skeleton and thereby enter into a metamorphic structural-principle of the bones in connection to one another – through which the whole of the living animal kingdom, which is common to all animals, could be experienced. This is the principle through which the eagle-being, the lion-being or cattle-being could be transformed – in a similar way. By entering in to these picture-forms through which the qualities of single colours can take on ever-changing shapes, one can come to another “living principle”.
As in the organic world, also here, every single part makes up a whole, which can only be as it is, in its particular position in the whole of the organism, and in no other way. This makes it possible to experience metamorphosis by coming to an understanding of the whole, when only a single part is given.
In order not to get into artistic copying, the following method was employed. In the sketch “Eye and Ear”, brown was placed next to black on a small surface area, more or less in the way the two colours were placed together in the sketch. The whole was then surrounded in a blue mood. I then asked myself in what sequence the colours had to be chosen in order to come to the forming forces which led to this motif. How do the colours form around the given juxtaposition of black and brown? And I tried dark-blue, light-blue, red-green until I came to a sequence of colours which I felt must consequently lead on to the following colour forms. Of course, this step was made with the help of the sketches which I could always see before me. Thereby it became possible to follow my own artistic feeling without copying. Yet, at the same time, I always had the sketches as inspiration from the outside which gave direction to my seeking.
After at first outwardly observing the painting, there came about a second step: becoming aware of the living formative forces, through which all the picture forms were united and related to one another. Seeking the way in which the colours can be chosen in order to arrive at form and shape “out of the colour”, is a further level for the painter’s research. It is a kind of researching that takes place on the level of pure perception. Behind it, the motif itself exists as a spiritual reality. Indeed, in the same way that we can understand communications about super-sensible truths by means of ordinary thinking (when they are imparted by a spiritual investigator), we can also learn to understand the spiritual investigator’s motifs through our artistic research. These have appeared out of the grounds of spirit and manifest on many different planes.
By comprehending these levels, one prepares the way to the means to undertake free artistic expression for motif-building out of the “Being of Colour”. In the theme of the sketch is lies the direction of the question which has to be explored.
That which actually came into being often had little resemblance to the visual creations of Rudolf Steiner. The only thing which was important to me at the moment was that what I painted should exist as art, become alive, as art. How one needed to experience and chose the colour to come nearer to Rudolf Steiner’s results was constantly my question.
One might believe that, in this way, a mere dependency on that which had been perceived as the model might ensue. But actually it was just the opposite. By following one’s own experience of what one perceives to be the principle, even if it turns out to look much different than the model, one is becoming in a sense free and independent of it. Colour experiencing must become stronger than the forces of the mental image, it must completely supersede the latter. Then it leads us into the sphere of living moving colour out of which the motifs of the single paintings are freshly emerging.
Only a practised experience with the whole of the “Cupola Motifs” can lead to such surprising impressions as the following, which pose the painter with new unsolved questions and riddles: a motif such as “Eye and Ear” which can be experienced as coming out of blue – when transposed into green, can change into the “Paradise” Motif or when transposed further down into indigo can change into the motif of the “Instream of Radiating Beings”. This perception of transformation pulses more and more with an activity such as is involved with the “Cupola Motifs” in their totality, as if each one were a transformation of all others, as if here “One” motif were implied throughout the various colours. But because of the dome-shape of the Cupola form, the motifs were continually appearing different. These motifs seem to be like a living Being who “incarnates”, in different times and conditions and in different places, appearing in diverse forms.
The Cupola Paintings of the First Goetheanum
The last group of paintings that is represented here (42-48) leads to the motifs of the first Goetheanum and is not to be separated from the “Building Impulse of the Goetheanum” as such. It can only be understood out of the wholeness of the Goetheanum. Its tragic burning and the early death of Rudolf Steiner made it impossible to recreate the colour forms as had been planned. Therefore this painting masterpiece has remained practically unknown. 13a
Although some important parts of it were already apparent, it is difficult to grasp the whole of the relationships out of the single reproductions. 14
As in the case of the sculptured-architectural form, so also should the motifs of the Cupola paintings lead the soul of man, united with its cosmic past, into the levels of higher self-cognition. However one finds therein not only the steps of an inner path of study. Through the original balanced, correlation of colour, meaning and form, and through the totally new way of painting, a guiding experience: for painting of the future, through which the path of painting will again receive “The Light of Mystery Wisdom” comes to light.
The great styles of painting in earlier cultures received their formative impulses from the Mysteries. One only has to think of the Persian, the Assyrian and the Egyptian temple art, and the Celtish-Irish-Scottish plaited band-work, or even the strict forms of the earlier Ikon Art. Think of how etheric laws were imprinted on the strict forms of such styles, which helped fashion and form human evolution, even influencing the bodily nature itself. Through the forms of Visual Art, the human soul is refined and the connection of the sheaths to one another becomes ordered and so, gradually guided to a level where the human being will for the first time be able to freely direct those etheric principles. How liberating is this new force which will emerge into the living existence of colour and the inner workings of the world of forming forces in accordance with a predetermined form!
The first Goetheanum building, which just ten years after its construction was burned down, nevertheless has its place as the “beginning of a new process of becoming”. “Do not forget the Building”, was Rudolf Steiner’s cautioning word. In many lectures and indications, he gave precise reference to its meaning for the future. In relation to painting he describes that it was only possible in the Small Cupola (whose southern side he himself had painted) to carry out the indications of the art of colour. Some thirty years of work would have been needed to fulfil the task.
When Rudolf Steiner was asked by those artists actively involved in the painting to correct the middle motif of the small Cupola, he had the whole south which had just been painted, redone in white whereupon he repainted the whole of the motifs himself. That deed brought forth the birth of a new method of painting. Floating in balance, free from any previous tradition, also freely interpreted out of his own designs, he brought the single motifs in wave after wave of colour out of the whole of the planes of colour.
“The small cupola of the first Goetheanum was painted in such a way that nothing came out of pictorial images to be coloured in. Rather there was an experience of colour there to begin with; and from that, the colour motif was formed. In dedication to the being of colour, the creative soul wills itself into the pictorial forces which are amenable to the colour experience. In the moment of creating, one feels as if there were nothing in the world but living, weaving colours which are themselves creative and give birth to their inherent being.” 15
By experiencing the whole of the Building, one can embrace the whole experience of man’s being in the forming of both Cupola surfaces with their huge ground tones of strong streaming colour. This is the basic experience from which the many faceted themes of the single motifs had their being.
If one stepped into the Large Cupola from the west, a great rainbow appeared following the dome shape: indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red and in the east, as if to link the whole together as one, was a violet “seed”.
Above the organ in the west, there arose three archetypal motifs: from the indigo the “Origin of the Earth “with the “Rays of Light- borne – Beings”. Above this there arose out of blue and rising to green the two grand-motifs, “The Origin of the Senses – Eye and Ear” and there again as one bound together with intense red, the “Paradise” motifs “Javeh and the Luciferic Temptation”.
The great epochs of mankind’s cultures were portrayed in the northern and southern sides which, when we follow their course, they lead the way into a completely inward-oriented path of movement. In the north: “Lemuria”, in the south: “Atlantis” in the Northeast: “The Indian Human” and in the southeast: “The Persian Human”. These motifs lie completely in the red, orange and yellow colour streams, while “The Egyptian Human” in the southeast and “The Greek Human” in the northeast both lie in the green colour stream and follow back into the Paradise Motifs.
The threefold motif in the west stands opposite to the likewise, threefold motif of the fifth Post-Atlantic culture on the eastern side. The latter becomes visible as arising out of intense red, violet, and peach blossom substance to the portrayal of “Godly Wrath and Godly Sorrow”: “E” (in German, “I”) – the “Round of the Seven”: “Ah” (In German, “A”) and the “Circling of the Twelve”:”O”.
These colours widened out to become the periphery of the Small Cupola, where they closed around a red-orange-yellow coloured centre. The green colour-tones which had played such a strong role in the Large Cupola were, on the contrary, in the Small Cupola hardly to be seen. Powerful contrasts, such as black and red, red against violet, peach blossom and gold tints and shining blue streams became visible here for the portrayal of the Initiate-Paintings. Every one of these paintings had a threefold structure. From the west to the east: primarily formed from the blue: “Faust” emerges or “Human Striving toward Ego Consciousness”; he received initiation in the fifth post-Atlantic cultural period. Its indicators are: “Death”, “An Angelic Being” and the “Child”. Then: the “Greek Initiate”, the “Egyptian Initiate” – the “Germanic Initiate”, who stands in battle between Lucifer and Ahriman – then the “Slavic Man” with his double, angel, and centaur. And in the east, above the great statue the motif “Representative of Mankind”, formed again out of the colour.
If we can find ourselves again as human beings in the totality of the Building, then the Cupola becomes an “expanded skull” for our consciousness in whose etheric form the single motifs are engraved in precise spaces.
The motifs of the Cupola painting lead into gazing upon one’s own super-sensible history, and place single human beings in relation to the human evolution, in that they bring both the most personal and the most general qualities to expression. And indeed, if these motifs – in Rudolf Steiner’s own words, have evolved “out of colour itself”, then can one also find in these colour qualities, the necessary impulses representing evolution.
The endeavour to study the Cupola motifs asks not only the purely artistic question of the painter: How do the colour connections in the motifs allow themselves to be developed in accordance with one another? There are also much deeper questions to delve into, which these motif epochs of the earth and human history pose, and which are indeed painted out of pure colour perception :
The question opens into a path which follows out of colour sensing and experiencing of artistic laws along to an understanding of human cosmic history as Rudolf Steiner describes in his “The Being of Art”. Namely:
Is it possible to approach levels of evolution through the “Art of Colour”? That is the question that was raised through the Cupola painting into the realm of painting research, and it is posed to the coming generations of painters. We are going towards a future level of art evolution where, through the achieving objective perceptions of the senses, through the training of “Eye and Ear”, regions of experience will be unlocked through which the results of artistic research and those of natural and spiritual science will mutually further and fructify each other from the most individual points of view. A reuniting of the three ideals of humanity: Science, Art and Religion is a basic necessity for the further development of our own culture.
In his lecture “The Creative World of Colour” (Dornach 26.7.1914), Rudolf Steiner indicates that there is a vast future of new artistic creation before us. Gerard Wagner’s developmental steps can be seen as the very beginnings:
“Therefore one can find an inner connection between the forms and colours which are fashioned on this foundation and that which moves our innermost soul as spiritual cognition…Only when we succeed in bringing that which lives in our world-vision into forms without symbolism or allegory, not as abstract thought, dead knowledge or abstractions, but as live soul substance; then we will have an intimation of what this new artistic development really is. Bridges must link what for many today are only abstract ideas, to what we hold in our hands as chisel or paintbrush. This creativity is hindered by our superficial, abstract culture which doesn’t allow what is created to actively live. One can understand how the ungrounded belief can arise that spiritual knowledge might kill art…Certainly it harms art, if one uses it as the allegorists and symbolists, who ask: what does this or that mean?…We must not ask what the art means, but rather realize that it is the living organ for human speech. In much the same way we need not ask what lives in form and colour, but rather realize that they are the living organ for contemplating the spiritual world. We will not attain true spiritual knowledge until we have given up the habit of seeking symbols and allegories rather than perceiving the living breath, which wafts through the whole cosmos. We need to comprehend how that which lives in the cosmos actively enters into the characters of myths and fairy tale world.
A beginning must be made, though it will be imperfect. No one should believe that we can see how perfection will appear while we are still at the beginning… We must truly strive to open the soul to spiritual science; we’ll need a lot in order to take up the seriousness, the driving force, this inner driving force into ourselves…
Perhaps we can celebrate the intimate interconnection of the soul with spiritual science by deep study and exploration of questions such as those posed by colour:
Because we can achieve something by experiencing the life of flowing colour, we can also find it possible to arise out of our own form and enter into the experience of cosmic life. Colour is the soul of nature and of the whole cosmos and we become part of the soul when we commune with colour.” 15
Out of the Years
1948 – 1979
QUEST FOR THE NEW ISIS
The Three Kings
we have foreseen
signs its approach
clothed in star shine
of the golden sphere
All that lips
holds silence in the light
to be breathed in language
lily-white and rose-red
hues of kingly tidings
at the chosen hour
to those conscious souls
who love the sacred law
and appear diamond-like
united in brotherhood
As if a firestorm
were to snow
down from the heights
suddenly there pours
a crystal veil
as if it were ash
from the star-fire
pouring forth comfort
as cool balm
over all creation:
A light is shed
by the shaping-forces
as blessing brought
to the fields below.
which protect us
from the flame
The power that reigns
in front of which
a breath of fire
which streams light
into all worlds
and unfolds free centres
in the breadths
arise in carrying
and rise up lifting
in the act
of coming to being
brightens the cold
All that exists
streams to you
in amethyst rays
into the depths
to all beings
of the rose –
Their budding green
Human beings –
by angel beings
in veils of worlds
she offered her archetypal
image to all beings
birth and pure
body into the burial
vault of earth
Behold thou the gesture
in the sword of
Sun – spirits
the veils to fall:
breathes more freely
in this sun-fire
of the Master
QUESTIONS CONCERNING DEATH
Shades of darkness
proclaim this to thee:
When in moments of quiet
the all active eye
may pause to behold
out of colour:
who died fallen
There flows his blood
to stream in the
flood of depths
So through innermost
suffering were space
and time forever
that every heart
be freed through
patience and every
trust in Him
A spear – releases the
red from blossoms
can kindle light
in seven stars
by means of
From the wood
the good enduring grain
may none be slain
And a tremor
His destined fate:
seven red roses
seven pure stars
of sacred love
The Cherub who prepared
you in Paradise
the creative might
which allows us
who walk the path of life
to pass through the gate
so to realize
the quest for our own goals
has imprinted the lofty strength
of silence into your heart
as God’s will alone
And may the contemplation
of that spark of fire
to which is aspired in prayer
which treads behind each thought
which solves each riddle
in the labyrinthine ways
which proceeds to the goal
be the transformation
that fulfils us through
The Cherub’s fiery hands:
His gaze creates us anew
becomes a sign
of the image for you
in that you understand
which you name:
“Thou without equal”
There it descends
Name the names by
which He is called
dead branch which
springs to budding green
takes root in the grounds
which waste us
might of the greater depths
nights of the night
in the grave…
At the Grave
In the deep grounds of being
is that exalted and arisen
which is resurrected
in the rock
which holds and carries
And in the unfolding
of all life
have those pinions
has His healing grace
touched His own
Whoever in mountain nights
perceives that shadow wall
which borders the ascent
and reaches the level
the battle for self hood
In him the image
of the light is extinguished –
As his own shield
he has humbly
That which the heights
into the depths
his vision upwards
to the high
flowing – colours
of the word
being is becoming
without a flock
to the place
so that he
may battle for self-hood
And in the battle
for the self
he dares to confront
the new Aeon
the World – day
which have been released
are set aright
in the light
so to follow
the path to the crib
For the footprints
above the clouds
which lead to
are singled out
There to kneel
and to give
which carves out
is the earmark
of that path
which all take
who stand in
the light of life
where it exists
O’ dark storm
in the light of love
which for thy sight
is the path
which He brings to light
Does the dead image
to become restored
in the lustre of spirit
into a diamond
in the middle?
a remnant of
does not dissolve
as coal and
a request full
“Guard the path
TEACHINGS OF NATURA
In every grass and clover
a striving reigns:
which fashions itself
which unfolds itself
to renew life
to purify and cleanse
and to enliven
the salts and the poisons
sublime breath of air
to illumine in fire
the hieroglyphs of the deeps
and unloose Pluto’s bonds
so to release
from matter’s bounds
In the shining lustre
which in unfolding
attests to new forms
do higher spheres witness
The cipher which
as imagined thought
once shed light
on my seeing
in that vision
brings living moisture
to the dew
from heaven’s heights –
wants to arise
in the etheric glow
in the colour stream
to gently come
shining in matter
Out of that fire of spheres
which weaves as light
about my bud
as dew of heaven’s moisture
a light aspires
to carry me upwards
a shining of the sun
as it freely
loosens the bonds
which held me
spellbound in death’s grounds
In the shining of heaven’s blue
in morning sun-fire
in the stream of moon-flame.
I am consumed :
in the freedom
of the light
out of which I am born
Amidst such living
weaves a tapestry
above me: I am
the one arising
out of death into form
out of form into shape
as the ether stream widens
in the restful glow of light forces
of gold –
what God’s hand
wills to fashion
over the land
From the blue
cloak of that woman
who walked at night
in the garden
From the child
walked with her
I was surrounded
with the patience
night and day
day and night
in the garden
So it slips outwards
In the chrysalis-time
the wings spring forth
They encircle the night
in crimson garments
through the silent door
When the light discovers you
the glowing sapphire
charms your soul
O dew-webbed meadow
the Iris wings curve you
An inner light remains
in which the moth is mirrored
A cherub’s visage
of the Sun’s reign
illuminating unsullied sight
image in the eternal light
balm and star
invite the soul
by the brook
I become the trees
A sylph longing
bows to the light
to help me:
dissolve me lightly
Wind in my face
from limb and trunk:
I am a tree
I am a leaf
I am a bush
Continue to flow
around my root threads
O’ moon’s well-springs
do the footprints
they trace the tracks
and the meadows –
Yet in the air
there lives a feathered wing
movement – as if to touch
excites them to flee
into the free heights –
For there above reigned
the far-seeing view
that kept passion in measure –
and imprinted luminous colour
moving each form
May primordial shaping
and its archetypal image
as it first appeared
He is a master
who dwells in those regions
He follows down
from the high thrones
into the smoke
which casts shadows –
with each motion
Fleeing – seeking
are you fiery-hooved ones
turning to flight
You peaceful herds
from the lion
who rules you
So do thoughts move
shying away from limiting
However thoughts ensouled
linger as gestures
Herds of horses
guided from the heights –
gaze out from the hollows
Tame your wild soul
here as well
to manifest that part
of animal-soul in me
drive of motion
wills to climb over
O’er glacial snow
to starry peaks
sensing the heights
with horned brows
behind the klefts
of solitary stone
Still the world
rests in balance
before the forms
Will-power takes hold
of the goals
from which we
has me bound
I sight the brothers
I spy that one
whom I know
holding to the hill
with a certain stance
arising and swaying in space
the counter forces
the country expands –
and I’m enchanted
as if weight itself
listened to my thought
as if this land
could hear my weightiness.
in the widths
there still wander
ageing they are
Old unwritten norms
in bearing weight
and in treading
and in standing for
in the picture being
Here I am animal
my being –
He who leads me
who also directs
the breath of air
the flight of birds
alighting on the slope
of the hill
who watches over
in full command
of the reigns
Does a thinker
Is the goal then
to form an image
a protective shield
a willed image
of all feeling?
in the light :
“Is that not I?”
Who has called me
to bow down
on my knee
have I known
still voice inside –
Archetypal Seed – Unfolding – Moth
“…Nature encourages us everywhere to transform her forms into others, to metamorphose. Whoever contemplates nature to copy it, falls into Naturalism. Whoever experiences nature, not merely by drawing lines representing a plant or just seeing its colours, but he who experiences it deeply can learn how out of each plant, each stone and each animal form, another one follows on in sequence to imprint the substance anew.
We modern human beings need to create artwork in which the form expresses more than nature says, yet in a very natural way so that each single colour acts as a ‘prayer’ offered up by nature to the divine. We more or less wrestle forms out of nature, in order that nature herself can revere the divine…We speak to nature in a rather artistic way. – We succeed in seeing artistically, into Nature and glimpse what allows form to live in it, in order that a higher life of form can manifest than that which exists in Nature as such.” 16
– R Steiner
Archetypal Sun – Cross – Redemption
“The time has come today, when the Easter-thought must again become actively alive. It must transcend the state of death into the state of the living. The living is characterized in that it arises out of itself in a different way.” 58
– R Steiner
Easter – Transformation – Life
“First of all, the earth gives her life up to the plant, the plant dies, the airy atmosphere with its light, gives the plant renewed life and the spirit of the world sets the new plant-form within. It is preserved in the seed and grows again in a like manner. Indeed one can see that the whole plant world builds itself up out of the earth and through death into the living spirit.” 59
– R Steiner
Levels of Transformation
“The plant which sprouts and arises in the spring, carries spirit in its germination and growth. Spirit and sense world phenomena are interweaving; there exists essentially a oneness. The decaying plant lets the leaves fall down, and the spirit arises: there is invisible, super-sensible spirit, and descending out of it is the substance… Differentiation exists, but the differentiation does not occur in a kind of erratic or chaotic way. Here, there is ordered regularity…one sees the rhythm between differentiation and that which remains undifferentiated. A certain rhythm exists in a ‘breathing-in’ of the diverse elements, and the ‘out-breath’ which follows. There is a phase or a pause-in-between.” 58
– R Steiner
Archetypal Man – Movement – Change
“The remarkable thing is that the animal wasn’t actually there first, and the human being came later; but, rather, the human being was there first and the animal afterwards. The development of the animal came out of that which could not become human. It was of course not so that the human being was wandering around on two legs, at a time when only warmth was present. The ethereal human being desired only that condition of warmth. Then, as that was transformed and there arose a warmth-body formed by air, the animals emerged; next to the ethereally floating humans, animal being appeared. Thus animals are in fact related to humans but they actually came into substantial being earlier than the original, floating human. They evolved out of the genesis of the world.” 60
– R Steiner
Archetypal Human – Archetypal Animal – Animal
“One can come to a kind of ‘generic-imprint’ of the animal form. For example, in the horizontally placed spinal column and in the limbs, stretching downwards there is something that strives to adapt to earthly conditions. Yet, at the same time the animal structure is carried quite independently of the earth. One can see that each animal’s form does not merely adapt itself to the earth as does the plant. Rather, something in its fashioning is entirely independent. The animal is, in fact, entirely separate from the earth, also in regard to form.” 61
– R Steiner
Eye and Ear
“In the motifs which have been painted on Cupolas, an attempt was made to treat colour in a very special way. In the use of colour to portray the images, an unusual method has been employed. There, colour has been directly experienced. Everything which is introduced into the soul by spiritual research has been inwardly experienced. Colour should not be only a surface which displays something within it, – but the colour itself should have an inner life which can develop further, so that it is out of the appropriate colours and combination of colours that the life itself arises. The whole painted work of art is then viewed in such a way that one gets a feeling directly from the effect of the colours and from that which lives into the form through colour itself. One lives into the life of colour through feeling; one can grasp the reality of colour not through the physical colour, but through that which lives behind the reality that colour represents.” 17
– R Steiner
Eye and Ear – Elohim
“Colour should express itself; forms should express themselves; this does not mean that something else has to be expressed through colour and form. Because that is accomplished directly through living with the spiritual world; the colours and forms as they are pictorially represented, should only portray the way in which we experience them in the present moment of artistic reality; so that one isn’t directly held to sketching a model, rather that what lives and weaves into the spiritual fact and existence itself, is brought into the colour weaving and the life of form which is, in turn, represented on the plane surface.” 17
– R Steiner
Egypt – Greece – Paradise
“If painting is to now be organically joined, together into the whole of this building, then that which unfolds as painting must come to life out of this impulse. Therefore, one must try to bring that which does not live as colour in the physical plane into the physical colour. For in the material plane, all that is colourful – with the exception of the rainbow and such-like – appears hard and fixed. It must be possible to live into blue with the whole soul, as if the rest of the world weren’t there and there was only blue. So then, the soul could feel itself flowing out into a whole world full of blue…”
– R Steiner
Greece – Lemuria
“…Yes, that which will happen, when one really lives into the flowing waves of the colour world, will not be merely painted brush strokes of colour-tones, because one will be living into colours creativity. When colour’s phenomena is lived into, then one will find that this colour being becomes inwardly differentiated. It will become apparent that when one lives into blue, and ultimately finds oneself inside it, that the blue has something which attracts the soul, in which our soul tends to lose itself. It longs for the blue, and would like to go on yearning…”
– R Steiner
The Indian Human
“…Then one will find, as well, that figures and forms will arise which bring the mysteries of the cosmos and the soul of the cosmos to expression. Out of the creativity of colour, there will arise a world that fashions its own forms, one that is inwardly varied and lives to fulfil its inherent characteristics. Its form will be born out of colour. One will sense not only that one lives in the colour, but that the colour gives birth to form out of itself. That is, form becomes the deed of colour…”
– R Steiner
The Persian Human – Atlantis
“…the creative being of the world will be experienced in a roundabout way by means of colour. Only in this way can it happen that the painting does not merely serve to cover surfaces, rather it shows the way into the whole cosmos, it lives with the whole cosmos…”
– R Steiner
Divine Wrath and Divine Sorrow I
Dance of the Seven A
Circle of the Twelve O
“…It shall evolve that the motifs we set forth as the necessary content of our Cupola paintings, that is: the impulse of Lemuria; the impulse of Atlantis, the impulse of our present life; and back again to the initiates of ancient India, ancient Persia, the Egypto-Chaldean, and the Greco-Roman times – all these impulses can be inwardly grasped, and it will have to become a reality that out of this inner-grasping of colour experience, that which is brought into the work of art will immediately be transmuted into form. It will manifest what lives in the evolution of mankind.” 18
– R Steiner
ISIS AND MADONNA
If we seek to tread the path of knowledge in spiritual research 18a relating to certain mystifying questions concerning ancient oriental human consciousness, the first sentence of Mysteries and Mystery Wisdom with which Rudolf Steiner began in 1902 holds a key to understanding: “There lies a kind of mysterious veil over those who sought after deeper religions and knowledge than their folk religions could offer. How were they able to fulfil their spiritual needs?”
If this veil obscured human knowledge as such, it would be senseless to disclose the meaning of hidden wisdom through deciphering the inscription of the high goddess, Isis, in Sais: “I am the all; I am the past, the present, and the future; my veil has never been lifted by a mortal.” 25 Moreover, if no mortal has yet lifted the veil, it is clear that on the other side of the threshold of the path of knowledge is where the immortal soul of man begins. The “Mysteries” are the initiation schools of those spiritual-seekers, the Mystics, who strove to attain higher degrees of knowledge, than they could reach on this side of the veil of the senses. That is between birth, and death of the physical human existence.
In a mysterious way, the human being can behold himself daily as standing between two realms, that of the visible, sense bound; and that of the invisible, supersensory. We can recognize and understand Isis, following indications of Rudolf Steiner 19 as being that “virginal” life force which restores and refreshes the life bodies of all human beings during the night. The same being heals the human life organism from exhaustion and fatigue and thus constantly renews and rejuvenates the human stream of existence.
In waking life, the human being is turned towards sense-perception and through his will, towards the world of appearances. In this “nerve-sense life” the protective strength of waking consciousness takes effect. This happens, however, at the expense of the constant disintegration and perishing of the nerve-sense-system. Tiredness and exhaustion are, despite breathing, nourishment, and growth; the daily consequences of this waking-consciousness. In sleep the nerve-sense-system is quiescent. It becomes restored again to the plane of sense life upon awakening. At night, veiled by dream life, waking consciousness is dimmed, then sinks into deep sleep loosening not only from the physical world but actually from the physical body itself.
The breathing, blood-circulation, warmth and the process of nourishing the organism continue to function while dreaming and in the deep sleep condition. The individual consciousness of the “i am” and the sentient-soul consciousness are raised to a higher level.
From this higher plane of being, there stream to the physical life certain forces which make us feel refreshed and awakened in the morning as if “new-born”. Veiled from the waking consciousness is the insight into the time that we sleep. Access is generally closed to that higher plane of being during the day.
In the changing penetration and differentiation, polar conditions come into being: in the nerve-sense-organism there are dying, preserving and structuring tendencies, while the circulatory and regenerative organism builds up and forms anew.
In mythological pictures of the gods such riddles of existence are made visible. In the archetypal temple legends of Egypt; Isis, Osiris, and Seth 19a appear as the “sibling principle”. They determined the entire cultural life of the Egyptian land and peoples.
Isis and Osiris both appear as the regents of primordial time (later the Greek records of Plutarch places the name of Isis before that of Osiris). The three symbolize a threefold accord of: creative-deep-sleep-consciousness, dream-creative-picture-consciousness, and waking-earth-born day consciousness. It is the creative oneness present behind all cultural activities. A “light-sun-principle” evolves: Isis-as a sister of Osiris; and Osiris-as Brother of Isis comprise a unified perception of the active-creation of night and day.
In the forming of day life, the day-waking forces of the sun-oriented Osiris being, work effectively in the head (that is the nerve-sense organization) while the night’s-regenerative and structural forces are connected to Isis. However the nerve sense processes penetrate the whole organism through their forming-potential and work powerfully together with the form-giving developmental aspect in the metabolism and regeneration involved in sleep.
This comes to expression in the archetypal legends, in that all brother and sister relationships come about through forming and unfolding. The figure of Seth first steps into the picture when Osiris travels away from his own kingdom; then the process of perishing begins to take effect. Danger threatens Osiris. When he comes back, his brother Seth measures and fashions the frame of his body into a coffin: the creative life forces become more and more bound to the bodily form and earthly consciousness begins. Osiris takes on those proportions in the coffin: death follows this act! One of the most beautiful sequences of the Temple Legends describes how Isis searches for her husband – for in the meantime she has become his wife; that means the stronger differentiation of the unified symbiotic polarity has just occurred. She is looking for where the coffin has been impelled and finds out from a boy and later from various boys on the banks of the river which direction to go. From the youthful strength of the awakening morning, word of Osiris’s goal streams forth to her. It leads her finally to “Byblos” in Phonicia and back to Egypt, with the coffin intact. There Seth cuts up the body of Osiris into fourteen pieces. By means of the body of Isis each piece forms itself into a being which takes on the “archetypal-resemblance” of Osiris. In another version, Osiris’s disjointed corpse is buried in fourteen graves of the earth, through which he becomes the god of the underworld, the god of the dead.
From a light-beam out of that world, Isis’s son Horus is born. Isis bestows a third of the land on the priests, so that the grave of Osiris might be concealed and so that the death-services might be more often celebrated. From this aspect of the legend we can already look into the being of the Isis goddess in the early days of human evolution, before the division into the female-male polarity which differentiated the etheric archetypal representation through the separation of the virginal unity. 20
Isis is that virginal reproductive, sun force, which at the complete separation of the moon, first united with it. By that deed Isis takes part in Osiris’s division into fourteen pieces: One can sense reflective sun qualities in Osiris, influencing the fourteen days from the new moon’s waxing to full moon, and subsequently the Isis influence as the waning full moon changes back to the new moon’s forces. The forming forces which are felt coming from the outer perspective are the same forming forces which, emerging from the spinal cord through the twenty-eight nerve-centres, cause the shaping of male-female in the human form. So Osiris’s and Isis’s forces enter into the middle system, the rhythmic system of heart and breathing.
Seth means breath of air: through the process of the moon emerging from the earth, the breath of air first streamed into human beings, enlivened by Isis, perishing in Osiris. In speech and in the organ of speech, the larynx, the breath penetrates into the inner being of the heart, of “Horus” and forms a unified human out of the polarity of life and death; the threefold Isis points to the previous time when humankind was still able to give virginal birth:
“Herein lies the connection between Isis, the virgin mother of Horus, and the Madonna as the virgin mother of Jesus. 19 As the old clairvoyant vision of mankind is extinguished, the picture-image of the Isis-Horus-Mystery arises as sacred temple art and is later preserved in Demeter and Artemis-Diana in the temples of Ephesus and Eleusis through the honouring of chastity in the highest sense. It is through this happening that the grounds of all world-blossoming, in the sense of cultural development have their root. 21, 22 That inner sense of being which entered into mankind with the Christ-Mystery first came into effect as a true art impulse in the religious feeling of mankind when, in the Romanesque style of architecture; the inward quality of the Greek temple could give birth to the gentle being of Christian painting, out of the darkness of the crypt. That is to say, when a new Isis could bring forth a new Osiris, ‘The Alterpiece of the Madonna’ with the holy Jesus child, such as described in the ‘Gospel of St Luke’, was able to inspire Christian painting.” 23
Now within the cultivation of the cloister ceremonies, a sort of soul-spiritual balancing impulse begins to emerge out of the male soul culture. It honours the heavenly innocence, in which the deep memory of a holy, moon-wisdom as vessel of the new sun-impulse can unite with the deed of Christ. The blue of the sky is woven into the spiritual gold of the sun in such paintings. This view of the unity, dedicated to Maria has been ripening through a thousand year’s rhythm, unfolding in the Greco-Roman culture as herald of the presence of the consciousness-soul. Yet another element unfolds as Cimabüe begins to let streams of colour-breathing flow forth in his works. Following the impulse from Giotto to Raphael, the Goddess Natura breathes into a new world where virginal motherhood can manifest the invisible light mystery of time in space.
The being of the child, awakening in these natural world spaces becomes more and more visible in painting. This awakening is brought to life in special images of the Madonna and Child: In one of Filippo Lippis’ portrayals, the innocent child of the “St. Luke Gospel” reposes in the golden sunlight of earth, blissfully awakening. In yet another, the Solomon Child, sitting on his mother’s knee, gives his blessing to the Wise Men’s starry presence. The Child of “Isenheimer ” opens his awakening eye in shining balance to his mother’s, while seeking to arise. The Stuppbacher “Madonna after Grünewald” portrays the sheath of her wondrously transparent veil as being detached from the sitting child and shone upon by a glorious rainbow.
In Raphael’s Madonnas, ever-changing portrayals transform the images of the Virgin with the Child into a mysterious play of movement which is elucidated by Rudolf Steiner. 24 Schongauer’s painting has the awakened Child grasping a pure carnation. The sweet meadow-grass in his mother’s hand is like a first chaste perception of the world’s nature in the seeing light of his pure Godly soul. Rays of light from the mother’s eyes exchange with the child’s eyes in contemplation of the world:
Let us look once again to the mystery of Sais, that place where the priests became known for their healing-arts, to whose high priest the name “Highest Physician” was given. 19a In the seventh century before Christ, the 26th dynasty marked the last echoes of Mysteries of Isis. Plutarch (50-125AD) also found this to be true; in his travels he reported the decline of that holy place and a view of its well-known ceremonial activities.
A direct fructification of Greek spiritual life emerged, as Greek merchants began their colonisation in the Delta land. Philosophers like Pythagoras, Thales and the Orphic healers as well, could experience this echo as a kind of Renaissance. Solonius, Plato and Herodotes entered into connection with the priests of Sais.
Through Plutarch, word of the ancient holy Temple-Legend of Egypt penetrated into the first century after Christ, where the Greco-Roman culture was flourishing.
The name of Sais become interwoven with that of the Great Goddess. She was known as “the Consort of Ra”, ‘the ruler of the realm of the mothers, which is the realm of the transformation of the four elements,”the mother of her son”, ” the daughter of her son”, “Hathor”: ruler of all four directions of space and “Neith-Isis”, the godly weaver, whose hieroglyphical sound-symbol was a shuttle.
Thus, the Egyptian culture’s all-encompassing cultural principle was that of motherhood. It determined the ruling principles of priests and
Pharaohs. It was considered the wellspring of the divine spirit and served as the educational impulse of the whole culture: All creative elements of nature in the country of Egypt: the rivers, the climate, even the bed-rock itself, was ensouled with the mother.
The images of the goddess in antiquity arose out of this archetypal feminine spirituality. The highest honour was bestowed on the maidenly figure of Athena, representative of all of Athen’s cultural life, and the entire Greek empire. 26
In the shuttle, the hieroglyph of the Goddess Neith, a universal mystery can be understood which is revealed by Rudolf Steiner. 26 Let us look upon the age-old structures of Egyptian architecture. They come into being out of the ceremonial death services of the Mysteries. This architecture is created out of knowledge about the existence of the soul after death. Not only the Pharaoh’s dead soul being is provided for, but, symbolically, all the dead souls and the Egyptian folk-soul itself.
The pre-earthly soul of man is born out of the archetypal spheres, the tones and sounds related to the physical body’s incarnation. Beautiful artistic clothing is the godly picture of the soul. Thus the individual soul’s creative clothing as well as that of the folk-soul and the temple-soul is made visible in clothing: Neith is also the goddess of birth and rejuvenation; her shuttle is a symbol of the Mysteries of beauty in the world, such as that of the human body. Is the Veil of the Goddess of Sais not, at the same time, the eternal being of the human immortality? 26
Therefore has Rudolf Steiner has named the mission of the art of painting : The Art of Colour. He recognized Raphael’s Madonna art as coming out of the being of colour. in his works, living tones of colour and harmonious form replace the golden background of Icons. The veiled garments become not merely a sheath for the soul bounded and surrounded by the gold which marks the inner birth of the “I am”. In the image of the Jesus-Child of Michelangelo, for example, the “I am” has now touched the earth.
A musical ringing emanates from the sculptural painting of Michelangelo. Goethe’s Faust puts it concisely:” The Mother of mothers; that sounds so wonderfully.” In the “Donna Velata”, the world gazed upon the image of Raphael’s hidden love. Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa” attained an impressive mastery. In Michelangelo’s “Madonna”, the “Pieta” was transformed into the child-like rebirth of heavenly life.
Woven into these masterpieces is the secret of the unveiling of the Veil of Isis, which from then on became the soul of a new-born transcendence in artistic-creative-fantasy; this was interpreted in the newborn European music which rang forth with the harmony of the spheres, related to a super-sensible “accord of worlds” in the new dawn.
The new Renaissance painting of the North sounded the colour tones of the Mystery in Dürer’s “Apocalypse” (“Madonna of the Spheres”), in his “Magnificent Passion”, his “Life of Maria”. In the greatest work of the Grünewald, the “Isenheimer Altar “cosmically painted music and healing art was made manifest.
Mystery-speech depicting the threshold of a new age is found in the poetry of Schiller, Goethe and Hardenberg (Novalis). Mozart and Beethoven created a musical fulfilment of this, representing another level of art on the threshold.
As Rudolf Steiner finished the two sketches “New Life” (the 15th to 19th of February 1924) and “Madonna” (the 28th of February, 1924), a new level along the path of Colour-Mystery Wisdom was achieved, out of which the Madonna paintings of Gerard Wagner have their beginning.
Sleep and Death
“One cannot penetrate the being of awakened consciousness without contemplating the state of experience in human sleep and one cannot arrive at the riddle of life without contemplating death.” 28 – Rudolf Steiner
One can easily understand the beneficent magic which can be enkindled in every human being by contemplating the picture of mother and child. It belongs to the deepest mystery of human life. Usually our memory goes back only as far as the third year of life; in that time the hidden mysteries of walking, speaking, and thinking create a veil before the consciousness of our own moment of birth. And nevertheless, the soul penetrates this veil; every night during sleep the Ego-conscious soul, (the “I am”), steps over the threshold of this sacred dwelling place, which we perceive as the most inward self. At that moment, our soul is tired, even exhausted from the effects of the outside world and daytime. It intends to eventually plunge into a well of refreshment and inner rest. Thus it is also understandable how the sleeping human being, especially the child, experiences qualities of reverence, quiet and refuge.
In dream life, the sleeping being traverses the bridge which leads him to the consciousness of the life before birth: In a dream, he is conveyed back from the other side (the “before” time of Novalis) into day-waking consciousness. In that dream-life he carries the childhood forces which live in his body through which he has learned to walk, speak and think. Because of that experience, he feels refreshed in the morning, having had a sound sleep.
Falling to sleep and awakening can be visualized as a kind of breathing. Plunging from the picture-world of dreams into the insensibility of deep sleep consciousness can be compared to the breathing experience of our lungs, as if it were a higher form of the soul’s in-breathing and out-breathing the “living” air. One of the mysteries of human life is that during the healthy rhythms of daily life, we take as many breaths as we would in seventy years of falling asleep and awakening. 24
As the world descends, out of the depths of midnight behind the Veil of Isis, so do our ego and astral beings (i.e., the star-like being of our soul nature) plunge out of sleep into the light which illumines the outer world of the senses. One could say: The body of man as such forms a picture of the cross from the time of lying in the horizontal position of sleep and standing up in the vertical waking state and the circle of consciousness of self and the memory of the “I am” inscribe a great sphere around this cross of being. Seen in such a way the sign of the cross stands as an age-old sacred symbol above mankind.
Now, sleep has always been called the younger brother of death. And everyday the arc of the sun inscribes its path from sunrise to sunset. And every night the sphere of the polar circle marks the passage of time.
The mirror moon, given over to sleep, walks as the silent ship of night from east to west around the hastening “chariot” of the sun, pulling in the opposite direction, along the ecliptic. It takes fourteen days to wax.
And then, waning (running ahead of the sun in the heavens), it appears as a pale mirror, mysterious image of the earliest archetypal memory of Isis, Isiris and Horus.
What stunned amazement must have accompanied those dreamlike clairvoyant impressions of early man as they were becoming aware of the shadowy mute silence of sleeps elder brother: Death. When death appeared, the dead did not awaken; and during the three days, they witnessed the appearance of human childhood and youth becoming visible as if it were etched into the dead one’s face in living wax. Afterwards was the terrible shock of the dead soul, lamenting, at the sight of his bodily disintegration.
Indeed, one can readily understand how in those early times, when instinctive clairvoyance was dimming and a shadowy sense-consciousness was gradually coming to light, the decision was made to dedicate all bodily remains to the fire flame, so to lead the living essence of the soul into the higher realms of the light and to keep the ashes of regeneration in an urn in the depths of earth . Otherwise, the bones were buried under a stone sculpture.
The grave turns into a veil of memory – the process of dispersing the “body of the spheres” (the etheric body) of the human being, and the astral body (the mirror image or “sun body”) is experienced by the Ego in a panorama of memory. This memory sinks deeper down into the archetypal, hereditary memory of the Folk . Again we have the horizontal position in death and the verticality of the heights, which draws in the depths while being taken into the Ring of the Sun Sphere. The sea vessel of death travelled on the waves of the stream of life according to the ancient clairvoyant perception of the rebirth of the ancestors in the blood of future generations. Or, as is seen in the Tibetan funeral ritual, the soul of the dead returns to the etheric heights on the wings of the bird world. 30
Kali-Yuga (the dark age) began in the history of the Egypto-Chaldian-Babylonian cultural epoch, 3100 years before the turning point of time (The Christian Mystery). According to ancient Chinese estimations, in the aftermath of the Great Flood when the waters had receded and settled in the Tigris-Euphrates and the Nile, the subtler sheaths of man became denser and more mineralization took place. 31 The consciousness of mineral-crystallisation in the earth substance gradually caused the old clairvoyance to grow dim. This atavistic clairvoyance had replenished the cultural-soul experience of the old Indian and old Persian epochs with archetypal memories (until 2907 BC).
In the great Gilgamesh-Epic this consciousness change finds expression in the King’s lament over the death of his friend the hero Eabani (Enkidu) and in the journey to the Mystery Centre of Utnapischtim with the question about the riddle of death and the return of dead souls. 32 The voice of death’s godhead now becomes mute, and the honouring of the dead through memorial temples and the singularly powerful architectural Mystery – Wisdom of the pyramids comes at last into being. 33
What was hidden inside the sacred sun-temples of On-Heliopolis? There the path of initiation for the King adepts during the earthly life between birth and death could be prepared. The temple-sleep brought a kind of dispersion of the higher bodies (the sheathes of the Mystics). This was made possible in a death-like state during a three and a half day period of the supersensible future : “Viewing-death”. Thereby the goals of the folk-destiny became discernable. 34
The pythic-sibyllic Ruckschau (seeing backwards through time) into the memory of Atlantis in the initiation of the body in the Temple-sleep became like a foreseeing of the vision after death. The cradle became the grave. The temple in its structural form became the world of the afterlife. 26
The sculpture, as well as all the occult practices in the art of embalming and the mummy cult of Egypt, until the beginning of Greek culture, served to preserve a picture of the corpse. 19a The Greek saying “Better a beggar in earthly life, than a king in the realm of the dead of the underworld” sounds the last echo of the initiation of the Pharaohs. The dramatic tragedy of Ancient Greece calls forth fear and compassion by means of artistic language. Then comes the birth of intellectual thought, beginning with Athena birth out of the head of Zeus. Fantasy and thought are the wellsprings of a new light arising out of the creative being of the human spirit.
The Greek experience of ideas immediately awakened a Hellenic-etheric-meteorological-consciousness which metamorphosed in picture form into a physical-spiritual sphere. It was best perceived in the picture of the virginal Athena 25, and was present and visible in all crucial :
At the temple-sites of the visual architectural and sculptural arts, the Hellenic fantasy caused it to appear as if the rays of light were streaming into the marble (which was pouring out sunlight from the inside). Light-substance manifested being which was the light of the bodily “personality” of the Individuality.
The consciousness of the Hebrew-Israelite Jahve religion existed in the time between the ancient Egyptians and the consciousness of the Greek-Roman stage. In the path of initiation of Moses in Egypt, a death perception of the geological forces of the earth itself was sought. In the geological nature of the area around Palastine, a seal-imprint of the evolution of the earth’s layers was to be found. 35
Desert and salt-sea characterize the “eminent domain of the periphery”. A serene paradise-like nature lives in the imagination of Galileo on the sea of Genezareth. Jerusalem, the temple city on the hill, actually lies hundreds of metres below the valley of the Jordan, which was the mirror image of the sea. The desert signifies a loneliness of soul. In such locations, were the Hebrew Mysteries enacted: they were awaiting redemption and suffering trials of temptation, while prophecies of Sun Mysteries shone into the darkness.
“The Jordan, between the sea of life and the Dead Sea is a picture of human incarnation which lives between the time before birth, and the salt-bearing element of death.” (Emil Bock).
This theme is grasped by the colour-art of Gerard Wagner. In dramatic contrasts one experiences the Baptism in the Jordan (cosmic birth) out of the “Gospels of St Mark and St John”.
This Baptism is significantly placed in deep winter on the threshold of the morning sun-return, whose full arising extends from “Adam and Eve’s Day’” on December 24th to the sun’s resting place at the winter-solstice and, journey’s on to “Three King’s Morning” on January 6th. John the Baptist portrays the prophetic centre point of the geological mysteries of the earth’s depths. His being stands between the manifestation from the heights, as the Shepherd’s Annunciation and the King’s offerings of “Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh”. The prophetic word of the prophet is “Transform your mind”. The Baptism and the profundity of its initiation opens into the deep mirroring of the winter element of water through which a retrospection unfolds, of the innocence of paradise and the guilt of man’s fall into matter. “Transform your mind” sanctifies the “I am” while prophesying the manifest Sun of Fire: “Ilium oportet crescere, me autem minui”. (After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.) In his own death “the beheading”, John the Baptist experiences a prophecy of the Mystery Death of Golgotha, which means “The Place of the Skull”.
TEACHINGS OF THE DIVINE NATURA
“Be comforted! Immortality – is the eternal law
By means of which the rose and the lily bloom”
– Goethe’s Chinese-German Diary
In the same way that Goethe sets Greek tragedy on the stage of the present in “Faust”, bringing Helena out of the realm of the Mothers – he lets the “Metamorphosis of the Plant” be resurrected out of the Natura Teachings of Ephesis and Eleusis. Goethe establishes an unusual connection between his Faust figure and the turning points in the Old Testament story of Job.
In the Prologue this dialogue resounds as a higher proscenium: “Do you know Faust, the Doctor? – My servant?”. Those are the same words as in “Job”, Chapter two: “The Lord spoke to Satan: ‘Have you not observed my servant Job?’.”
Here Goethe follows his “Structure and Transformation of Organic Nature” as a maxim. “Job” 9,11: “See he goes before me before I realize it and transforms himself before I notice.” Let us place these words in the Book of Job next to the following passage in praise of the Creator: “He moves mountains before they are aware…He moves the earth from its place…He speaks to the sun…He expands the heavens and moves upon the waters of the sea. He sets the Big Dipper, Orion, the Pleides, and the Stars of the morning in motion. He does great unfathomable deeds and wonders that know not an end: Look, he moves over me…and transforms himself before I know it.”
Goethe places the structural study of the plant, of the animal and of man in the same remarkable relationship to the destiny of the “I am” as it is found stated in “The Book of Job” in the Old Testament. 36: “…If we contemplate all forms, but particularly the organic ones, we find no stasis or permanent finished form; everything is constantly in motion.”
There is a created existence as well as an intrinsic essence which is in the process of becoming. “That which is created is becoming simultaneously restructured. If we awaken to observing Nature in a living way, we wish to become as lively and adaptable, ourselves, as the example it sets for us.”
Here we touch upon that sphere of sensitivity which is relevant to the Greek world – view. The concept of weaving light, nurturing plant growth, brings up the mystery of Persephone:
“Persephone plunges into the earthly realm in order to free the plant-world from merely earthly characteristics. She is a godly-spiritual being descending into the natural being of the earth. Persephone also has a kind of ‘resurrection’, but in a rhythmical, yearly sequence. She descends to allow nature to renew and restore its seasonal orientation. Rhythm must lie at the basis of this, because the happenings of Nature follow in rhythmical sequences. Nature must be perceived in such a way that it manifests in Persephone; she is the being that one could still see in the early Middle Ages when ‘Natura’ was spoken of. Persephone manifests the godly-spiritual origin and eternal strength, out of which she has emerged and is continually emerging.” 37
We come upon the Isis-Mystery once more. We experience the divine being who represents the fertile wellsprings of chastity in the periphery surrounding the earth-sphere. Her daughter, Persephone is a different spirit being, who sustains the pure wellsprings of life, creating form in the plant kingdom, in order to protect the innocent character of the plant existence. The danger of falling under Pluto’s domination is avoided by means of the rhythmical ascent and descent from the light-spheres to the realm of Pluto’s shadowy bedrock of earth. From the seed in dark earth, the blossom springs forth into spheres of light. The cosmic innocence of the heavenly and the earthly mother was thus preserved. The starry world, and that of earth substance were able to remain in the living stream of light.
The spirituality to research the forming forces of plant life, such as Goethe endeavoured to do, called for understanding rising out of such a world-view as just described: “Where necessity reigns, God is present”.
“The meaning of plant-metamorphosis does not lie only in the appearance of the leaf, the bud and the blossom including the organs pertaining to these. It is, rather, the thought structure of a living, integral higher law” 38
In Goethe’s studies about transformation, the exact descriptions came forth through precise drawings, showing the structural laws as they appeared to him and manifested in the sequence of their levels of differentiation. In this way, for example, the polarity of systole and diastole, contraction and expansion became apparent.
In intuitive thought, as also in exact intuitive fantasy, the idea of the archetypal plant presented itself to his spirit, to be viewed with the open eye of the soul. (See the dialogue with Schiller after Bartsche’s botanical lecture in Jena, Germany.)
Karl Julius Schröer mentions the following in his lecture preceding the first edition of Goethe’s Natural Science Writings (through Rudolf Steiner in 1883). Speaking of Goethe’s talents: “The creative principles in human beings were traced back to the elements, related to the senses. For Goethe there is a potential for development which expresses life, independent of the will, in the way a flower blooms.”
Interesting and many are Goethe’s observations on Purkinje’s work as a background for these perspectives; in “Subjective aspects of seeing” 1819, Goethe himself describes that: “Memory and the forces of imagination are themselves active in the sense organs, and each sense possesses its own due memory and imagination”. He relates: “I had the gift that when I shut my eyes with bowed head to experience a flower in the middle of my sense organ of sight, it didn’t remain for a second in the same shape; rather it turned inside out and from its centre, new blossoms unfolded. It was impossible to fix the creation that welled up; on the contrary, the process lasted as long as I wished, did not fade or become stronger.”
He adds the following: “Into that central place can the contemplation of all visual art directly enter. One sees more clearly what it must mean that poets and all real artists need to be incarnated. Their inner productive forces, such as after-images, that come from that ‘primal organ’ – freely and without premeditation – must unfold, grow, expand and contract in order to evolve true objective being out of the shadowy images.”
He compares the certainty in the sketches of Raphael and Michelangelo with the hesitant designs of other artists. Indeed, the most fruitful contemplations about works that are copies or “ready-made”, can be misleading in all arts. In respect to furthering the creative spirit “there must be a sharp delineation between research carried by spiritual means and subordinate work!”
Goethe’s Natural Science Writings on the metamorphosis of the plant, the animal, rock formations, cloud forms and colour as “the deeds and sufferings of light” became the basis for nature-observation, through which science is raised to art and art to scientific knowledge. In the first introductory chapters, to the Kürschner publication of Natural Scientific Works, Rudolf Steiner refers to a Goethean sketch which elucidates Bartsche’s “Dialogue with Schiller”; that is, in each image of a plant, the idea of the archetypal plant is present. This page, which was lost, is pursued in some of Rudolf Steiner’s sketches; and finally, in the “Archetypal Plant” of May/June 1924, the sketch was brought to its completion. 39
The painted motifs in the section “Teachings of the Divine Natura” in Gerard Wagner’s works, find their place in the developmental stream of creative art history. That which evolved in the scientific field of knowledge concerning organic nature as a “developmental, comparative, descriptive and intuitive” method 40 is made visible out of the wellsprings of artistic fantasy. Wagner’s works make it apparent that Goetheanism can open up highly fruitful paths in artistic creation, not only for “painting out of the colour” but also for the living field of knowledge about nature.
Goethe’s methodical research which continued on from the plant to the animal structure was more complicated. In animals, solid form struggles harder against both inward formation and outward skeletal structure. These aspects finally reach completion in the spherical curve of the human head, on the one hand and in the upright standing position of the “limbs-system” in human beings, on the other.
Goethe doesn’t see the various levels of animal forms as finishing their development in the human being as the “highest animal”, rather that the human being was actually the archetypal image. He came to view the animal levels as premature, or hardened stages which had to remain in the lower levels of development. Goethe was already confronting the riddle of contra-rotating evolution, which Rudolf Steiner experienced as the Law of Evolution and Devolution, in his early spiritual research. 41
Gerard Wagner could immediately enter into Steiner’s sketch “Archetypal Man” (also called “Archetypal Animal”) in order to study this riddle of evolution. In his painting “Animal Metamorphosis”, a new level has been attained in relation to the whole history of painting animals (from the earliest cave painting to Franz Marc). We can be sure that the sequence of paintings in this volume are not based on naturalism, rather on nature itself in the light of art. The being of “Divine Natura” enters into it as the creative artist, herself. This striving is found into Gerard Wagner’s earlier work 42 as well as in his comparisons between the Goethean and Darwinian worldviews. 43
Wilhem von Schütz, whose meaningful Contributions to Morphology, takes up Goethe’s views in the chapter “Success” , describes: “What Goethe saw in Nature took on the character of what was experienced. Technique and organization changed perception into an intermediate contemplation of the beautiful counterparts of a wholeness, similar and different to our own being, as well as manifesting a separate quality. The originality of its structure, differentiates it from all previous results of philosophical speculations and thoughtful observations about natural science. Observing the connection to life-happenings brings historical research into the endeavour. The historical direction…is scrutinised, as everything, in a very unusual way…”
And now Goethe’s spiritual path is stated clearly by Wilhelm von Schutz:
“If Aristotle is ‘light’ and Plato, ‘soul’; then Goethe brings ‘soul and light’ at the same time to the place he leads us in nature…the precise observation of the actual moment stands out while a sequence of archetypal phenomena lies in the background. But it is neither neglected nor suppressed, nor does that kind of short-cut appear which is inferred or attained by divination. In Goethe, it is actually the sense perceptible on which the super-sensible observation is based”.
The Natura teachings of the Mysteries of Ephesus and Eleusis during the first centuries of the European Christian culture help us to understand the fading of ancient clairvoyant consciousness; in order to follow the meaning of the newly perceived “creative forces of the Goddess Natura” as a metamorphosis of the ancient Persephone. 44
Let us now journey on through the great Platonic spirits of Chartre, the original artistic – studios of Middle European spiritual culture: to Peter of Compostela, Bernardus of Chartres, Bernarus Sylvestris, Johannes of Chartres-Salisbury, Henri d’Andeli, Alanus von Lille, and in Italy, Brunetto-Latini and Dante.
The cultural development of thought continues with the Aristotilian, Thomas Aquinus and his teacher Albertus Magus, the universal doctor of the old Germanic people. Thought was gradually becoming more objectified. Out of such foundations, also influenced by the Arabic consciousness, Natural Science had its beginnings. Rudolf Steiner calls Goethe “the Kepler and Copernicus of the organic world” and adapted the principle of Goethean metamorphosis into his Spiritual Science which is called Anthroposophy.
Let us contemplate Aristotle’s Study of the Animals, 45 which is perhaps his most far-reaching work and the sum-total of ancient animal research. Out of this background, Goethe dares to begin his poem: “Metamorphosis of the Animals”:
Metamorphosis of the Animal
If you would dare, thus prepared, to ascend to the highest of levels,
Give me your hand and arise to the next step of our contemplation;
Open your eyes and behold, explore with your free sense of vision
Nature’s broad field all around you, the rich gifts of life which she offers.
(and at the end):
Joyful now, you realize that you, highest creature of nature,
Feel yourself able to think along with her way of creating;
Pausing to cast your eye backwards, reflect and compare your own findings.
Testing all that you have learned, from the lips of the Muse you’ll interpret,
Waking from dream so to see the positive charm of her Nature.
– Goethe “Metamorphosis of the Animal”
THE ARCHITECTURAL CONCEPT OF THE GOETHEANUM
“For much is wrought and gained through blessed striving
Of which the world knows not a single word.
The temple knowledge offers higher meaning
And he who there essays his year of trial
maintains his own strength in the world’s domain.”
-Goethe: “The Secret Abode’” in “On Art and Antiquity”
May true gratitude realize the level on which it stands. May active thankfulness ascend to the heights, for it will remain humble enough in the following years of life and deeds to penetrate into those depths where progress evolves.
The painter Gerard Wagner based his strivings on the clear achievements of Rudolf Steiner, who became his master concerning the spirit of art. In active steps, the student became conscious of his own development. Let us briefly describe these steps:
Coming to grips with the basic truth of Aesthetics was the first step. The following statement of Rudolf Steiner’s became his “herald of clarity” at the age of twenty-seven:
“The essence of beauty, which lives behind its material being is always real; its immediate reality, and the form in which it enters is ideal. The beautiful is not divinity in the garb of sense-life; on the contrary, it is sense-reality in godly-dress…The artist brings the divine into the world, not in letting it flow into the world but in lifting the world to the sphere of the divine. Instead of considering the ‘What?’, it is better to consider the ‘How?’, because the ‘How?’ underlies beauty’s essence.” 3
On this basic premise of the new Aesthetics, does the knowledge about art in “Anthroposophia” come to life as well as the artist’s striving…
On the 28th of October, 1909 in Berlin, the lecture called the “Being of the Arts” was given by Rudolf Steiner. Its contents serves as a herald of early 20th century spiritual history. In his Goethean research at Weimar, Germany 40, his cultural and scientific-art research in Berlin, through his direction of the art impulse in Theosophical life, through those first contributions towards a new Dramatic-Mystery-Art and “Occult Principles in Architecture” in the Munich conference of 1907; Rudolf Steiner endeavoured to spread the word about the cosmic necessities of creative fantasy, as if reading from a sealed book of the Arts. Rhythmical Dance, Mime, Sculpture, Architecture, Painting, Music, and Poetry, comprised the totality.
In cosmic imaginations arising out of the highest spiritual research, the Arts could make their own spiritual being manifest. The inspirational being of the Fantasy of Painting in “The Being of the Arts” can now utter, “I have set out on my path from a far-away realm into this world. I have descended out of the ‘Seraphic Realm’.”
This personage of Intuition came from the Being of the Seraphic Hosts…”Thou must unite with me. Thou must dare to unite thyself with me. Then thou canst illumine an ability in the soul of the human being on earth which partakes of the aforesaid activity of Fantasy…Thereby art thou enabled to imbue human beings on the earth with the talent of painting out of true Fantasy. Thou canst become the ideal-image of painting. Thereby wilt thou be able to enkindle a talent in human beings. One of your senses, the eye, has something in it which is not touched by egotistical thought processes – which has in itself, the all-embracing thinking of outer world processes – that is the sense with which thou art endowed when thou carriest painting Fantasy within thyself. And this sense will be in the position to recognize soul being in that which is otherwise lifeless and soulless. Life and soul shall radiate through its surface. And it will be possible to ensoul everything which appears to human beings to be on the surface of colour and form through thy ability.
They will be able to fashion it so that, through form, the soul can speak. Through colour will not only the outer sense colour speak but, through the colour which they can charm into being on the surface, something will speak which is inside colour – in the same way that everything which comes from me, is drawn from its innermost being outward.
Thou wilt be in a position to give human beings a talent whereby they will be enabled to become lifeless nature itself, that which only appears in soulless colour and form, and to imbue that with soul movement through their own soul-light. Thou will give them something which can change movement into rest – whereby they will be able to still the fleeting movement in the transformation of out physical life.
The evanescent flow of colour in which the sun’s rays fluctuate – the colours of lifeless nature thou shalt learn to paint them into in your artistic creations!”
And an image arose out of the ocean swells of the imaginative world – a picture that portrayed landscape painting. A second picture arose that portrayed something which so illuminated the spiritual form that she said: “What lives for a long or short span of time, in the span of a minute, or that which takes place through centuries, as well as that which occurs in the blink of an eye; thou wilt teach human beings who have this gift, to hold it as a perception. Thou wilt enable the people to hold the meeting of past and future in equilibrium, as they traverse each other in powerful movement.”
May that which has been uttered in such original imaginations about the Seraphic concepts for the future illuminate works of art and act as a guiding light for creative striving painters.
In Schiller’s “Letters about Aestheticism”, a spiritual rose-dawn became interwoven with Goethe’s tonal-sun-spheres. This light of a new field of Aesthetics shone with its inner-soul lustre to inspire western souls striving for knowledge. It influenced the works of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. “The Being of Art” on 28th October, 1909 in Berlin 46 founded a new teaching for the senses in the study of mankind. Immediate fruits of cosmic imagination were brought forth in Rudolf Steiner’s life. We shall confine ourselves here mainly to the being of painting in the realm of the sense of sight:
The sentient soul, prepared by the etheric body is poured into the sense of sight. This remarkable function comes out of the thought nature. A thought-imbued principle is made manifest. The thought is subconscious. The subconscious is part of the sentient-soul, which is brought to conscious-thought by the consciousness soul. What streams out of the two eyes is a thinking in the sentient soul. Real thought substance streams through the eyes by means of the sentient soul. This thought substance has by far, more elasticity than other substances which stream out of the senses of smell and taste. It can spread out and penetrate into things from a much broader scope. In fact, it is really something of an “astral-substance” which streams out from human beings. It streams out far into the distance until it is answered by an object, through another astral happening, (pertaining to soul experience).
So, it is something astral which streams towards matter. An astral counterpart streams towards matter, leaves the body and penetrates as far as necessary to stand opposite to another astral counterpart. In the confrontation between astrality and astrality, the colour of things we see is perceived.
In fact colour comes out on the surface of things. On the boundary of the inner and outer astrality, colour comes into being.
Spiritual science has brought us to an incredible principle: we have seen the sentient soul is actually a thought process in the act of perceiving. But this thinking itself appears first in the intellectual soul and then attains understanding in the consciousness soul. In the sentient soul it is subconscious. If we then observe a thing with our two eyes, we have two impressions which don’t immediately come to consciousness; even though they spring from an unconscious thought process. Two perceptible functions must occur , because one has two eyes. If we become conscious, we must travel the road back from the sentient-soul into the consciousness soul.
Here we have experienced a viewpoint from the horizon of Psycosophy and Pneumatosophy, where since the Egypt-Greco-Roman and later Western conscious development (that is: the sentient-soul epoch, the intellectual-soul epoch and the consciousness-soul epoch) painting has held the central point in the realm of human interest as far as the Arts are concerned. This is especially true for the present beginnings of the 20th century and on into the future.
And now we have arrived at the universal architectural concept of Goetheanism in the twentieth century and at the question of true transformation of consciousness in the present and future human being.
“The architectural concept of the Goetheanum is, in its deepest being, a living realization of Goethe’s convictions about art! He who has contemplated the form out of which the whole structure of the Goetheanum is brought together as a living construction, can understand how Goethe’s concepts about metamorphosis have entered into its structural thought-process. Living into Goethe’s spiritual world called forth the courage to guide the metamorphic principle into the artistic sphere.” 47
In the Goetheanistic concepts of structure, according to Rudolf Steiner, there lives a thorough penetration and transformation of certain basic artistic principles. Architecture is raised to the sculptural plane. Sculpture to the image of painting; painting into the musical sphere, music into intoned speech, poetry into drama and drama into the eurythmic-musical forming element. And so painting stands in the dynamic centre, picture-fantasy intermingles with its polarity: musical-poetic fantasy in a totally original manner. In the lectures on Art and Art Cognition, Rudolf Steiner contributes ever-changing themes to further clarify his art impulse.
A similar inter-penetration took place as colour fashioned the wonderful development of the sculptured glass windows and in the many-coloured forms of the large and small Cupolas. Both resounded with elements of the spoken word on the large stage for drama.
The following comes out of personal notes concerning my first encounter with the Goetheanum building in the fall of 1921. Here are a few impressions (as if it were yesterday):
“To come upon the threshold of the South Entrance to the building in autumn, observing the colour-play in the Jura foothills, to stand before the master-builder, Rudolf Steiner; unites artistic experience with spiritual presence.
The wide steps, resembling the day-bright entrance to a grotto set in a sloping cliff, give way to a freely balanced movement toward the outer terrace. The outside structure of the wooden building contrasts with the light concrete of the underlying open terraces. It widens out in an organic curve offering a view of the sunlit of the French portal. It felt in this moment like a countenance, like being in immediate proximity to the Being of Art: Ensouled with love and care was the detail of the sculptured wood carving of the whole outer construction! And above, the shining mellow silver-blue-grey of the northern slate of the Cupolas; blue sky with cherry and elm trees: all left a lasting impression on the inner panorama of the soul!
A long contemplation followed, plunging into the colour flow of the Red Window, a deep-glowing transparent sculpture! Its images met the soul in a special way:
The light-filled sculptured glass looked as if the outer surface had poured the spiritual colour-world into its inner depths so to imbue spirit in matter, revealing a human soul shape. One could feel the fiery red above from head to foot, from the very heights to the fundaments.
‘You will experience your being as spirit when the light of the world can behold itself in you.’48 The ‘I behold’, which is its theme, will be now be seeing in the beholder.
One enters the portal into the inner Great Hall with altered gait, feeling the columns and arches, pausing at the threshold as if carried by the word ‘I think speech’. The Great Hall breathes a deep solitary breath. Breath lives in stride as one gazes up into the far-reaching middle axis; breath-filled life and beauty are perceived by the human being who beholds!
In feeling the mighty verticality of the seven shaped-columns, the soul of colour-light breathes through the windows shining into the tranquillity of the interior: the sheath of walls around me appears permeable and transparent expanding the inner space. It is imbued with life.
‘The Motifs are brought forth from uniformly coloured thick slabs of glass. The etched engravings call forth the semblance of musical chiming. Its being is first transformed into a work of art when the windows stand in position with the sun rays, pouring through.
Through its artistic Motifs the building opens up, as it were, to the entire world. One walks in with the consciousness that one is in the world; rather than in a building. The walls are transparent.’ 47
Flowing in from both sides, every inner surface becomes interwoven with living colour movement: green, blue, violet, peach blossom. Breathing colour play shines towards the east, on the columns, the socles and the capitals, directed downwards by the silent footsteps of Rudolf Steiner. Serenely joyful, he brings forth the example of the nut and the shell to describe the relationship between the “outer” and the “inner” architecture; the ‘Gugelhupf’ form, moulding the cake; The “reshaping of the hat” elucidates architectural mysteries relating to proportions. With the gesture-language of his hands, it becomes objectively clear. His warm, awakening glance dispels every unvoiced doubt concerning this monument dedicated to the ‘Freedom of the Arts’. The open strength of his gaze ascends to the Cupola’s painted dome: ‘There is the human being of ancient India’…’There, ancient Persia’s human being’…’Divine Wrath and Divine Sorrow’…
With timeless patience he lingers under the forms of the small Cupola. We follow his words and gestures, as he indicates the figure of Faust, the ‘Flying Child’, ‘Death’: ‘This one here in brownish-black, the Faust in blue, the child in orange-yellow nuances.’
His words ring out earnestly whenever he speaks about the new path of painting. He advises again ‘that form must come into being through colour, that one should bring forth enough enthusiasm to wholly experience the colour world as such an interplay. Thus can one receive something totally alive within the colour world and one learns, so to speak, to distinguish the world of colour as an existing reality’.
It occurred to me, that, in the Faust motif there was an orange surface in several shades; out of its nuances the figure of the child became manifest. Then I noticed that the blue edges of the Faust figure outline a form…The form, the essence is wholly shaped and encompassed by the colour, because it is completely sensed, thought, and painted out of colour. ‘Here’, said Rudolf Steiner, ‘is the Egyptian initiate: the Egyptian Omniscient One is the counterpart in that ancient time of the Faustian striving for knowledge.’ 47 We hear him at our side, spelling out: ‘the unique word I-C-H – ICH . It stands next to the Faust figure, the human being, who truly strives for fully conscious individuality, the (‘I’ in English) which bears the Word. No word appears in the whole building, no word or inscription whatsoever…except I-C-H”
In the Faust lecture from the 30th September, 1916, ‘The Faust Problem,’ it was expressed in this way: ‘It is written: In the beginning was the Word…The Word stands directly for the human ‘I’…but the spirit of untruth reared up against this truth…’
The head and the hand of the Faust being, the Flying Child inspiring him, ‘Genius’, the skeletal form of death. These forms viewed together outline the initials of Jesus Christ, represented to the inner eye, in flowing colour.
I have become aware in retrospect after eight-five years of how deeply that communal contemplation has imprinted the forming process of each single pictorial-image into my inner soul. Standing next to Rudolf Steiner and looking up at the streaming colour of the individually fashioned motifs allowed the living impulse to actually represent the Goetheanum- itself. The motifs can be discerned by practising the thought principles of its construction on an inner level:
In the first Goetheanum the original being of creative fantasy was freely fashioned in material substance in its relationship to the everlasting substance which we call ‘historical world memory’ and ‘conscience’, the truth, that is the ‘Akashic Chronicle’.”
Having met Gerard Wagner and conveying my experience of Goetheanum edifice to him, provided an indescribable impetus for his life endeavour in the creation of paintings. One who had first-hand experience, could help create an integral link to further the painter’s strivings. The personal encounter with Rudolf Steiner had been greatly beneficial. Gerard Wagner’s strivings will only be rightly understood when one perceives how his painting path leads from the merely physical earthly plane into the archetypal spiritual image which underlies it, 48 the visible vanishing into the invisible.
What else could the artist’s heart choose when he had found his teacher and guide in Rudolf Steiner, than to dedicate his artistic life-work to that building which was lost to flames in the 20th century. Thus he could help to prepare the ground for future seeds toward the end of that century.
“We must strive in every way to erect this building in our hearts, for it has been taken away as an artistic image to be perceived in the outer world.” (Rudolf Steiner, 27.2.1923).
The Mysteries as Motifs in Art History
There is one question we might bring up briefly, which actually has been sounding from the very beginning of this contemplative documentation of modern art, namely that of the artistic motifs in the paintings which comprise Gerard Wagner’s life’s work. One must admit that many strongly paradoxical questions come to light in his paintings. They have evolved into the many varied themes and problems that fired his enthusiasm from the beginning.
One motif, which might indeed be called austere, is that of painting out of the colour, out of the essence of colour. Painting exclusively with water colour could be seen as a factor leading to this motif. Later he turned to an artistic technique using water colour out of plant colours, as they were developed following Rudolf Steiner’s indications. Nowadays, this method is fostered in the research laboratory for plant colours at the Goetheanum. 49 Thus we see Gerard Wagner’s confident technique as being mode for his painting, and needing no further ornamentations, as sometimes are used in what passes for ‘modern’ artistic creation.
Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on “The Mission of the Arts”, 1923, gave direction to Gerard Wagner’s strivings:
“One can feel artistically only in the instant of creating – out of the red and out of the blue and out of the volume of light itself, in as far as one can experience light in its relation to colour and to the darkness, as a world unto itself; – in the instant of creating when one actually has nothing more than colour, and that colour says so much that one can bring forth the motif ‘out of the colour’ and the play of light and darkness.
For above all, one must know how to live with colour. Colour must exist for oneself as something that has freed itself from heavy substance.
Heavy substance actually conflicts with colour when it is used for art. Therefore, to paint with palette colours comes into conflict with all painting. They always appear as added weight when they are brought to the surface. Moreover one cannot live with palette colours. One can only live with liquid colour. And in the life that develops between the human being and the colour, when the colour is made liquid – in that peculiar relationship that comes into being when the fluid colour is brought onto the surface, there develops a life-in-colour: There one can grasp something out of the essence of colour. World comes to being out of colour. And the experience of painting truly arises when one senses the appearance shining out, offering its manifestations as a living being; and out of that offering of the life streaming forth, one can then actually bring forth the forming as it converges on the surface. ‘Thence arises a world created out of itself.’ If you understand colour, then you understand an essential counterpart of the whole world.’ And might we continue by adding also a component of the whole world involved in the ‘painted motif’.”
As a second theme which for some present a difficult problem, fraught with apparent contradictions, one must clearly allow that from the beginning, Gerard Wagner, as practice ground for developing aquarelle painting used, indeed, dedicated himself to an artistic study of the “Goetheanum Cupola Sketches” and the “Training and Motif Sketches”. These were given by Rudolf Steiner and included in his estate. They served for Gerard Wagner as sovereign models with which to train his own experience in the creation of painting out of colour and in order to penetrate into the sense oriented-moral world experience of colour in the Goetheanistic approach.
It might appear that by setting predefined limitations in realms of hierarchical “Theories of Colour”, in the realms of rational science; or in forming out of the ideas given from the outside that the unfolding of a free, individual creative fantasy (in Schiller’s sense) would be greatly hindered. One might think that the creative forces of true art would thus perish.
However in the process of evolving an artistic method is it not possible to arrive at a lively forming and transforming experience which overcomes the limitations of death itself? Can’t one awaken the innermost fantasy, which is akin to the seed that breaks through the soil and grows into the sphere of universal sunlight, so as to rise up into its own life-form with its forces ever renewed?
And would this not also allow the individual’s creative power or genius, the sum of his disposition and talents set into time and space, to become planted as seed in the historical progression of the stream of spiritual art? Would this not then enable those motifs, brought to birth in works of art to manifest and emerge as new life? Indeed, without such striving such expansive consciousness would forever remain hidden.
And would this not all make it possible to comprehend a predestined transformation from out of the past, revealed in the process of seeing; so that the holy ancient language of signs and symbols arising out of the void might be understood in a new way?
Would the motifs then come into being as Promethean, Faustian artistry, and show themselves as the movers and initiators of evolving consciousness?
Isn’t Rudolf Steiner’s basic principle of evolution and devolution an unreservedly true statement of our present artistic epoch?:
“In reality we have something of an interplay in evolution and devolution, an interplay and indeed a hard conflict between beauty and ugliness. And if we really want to grasp what art is, we must never forget that the highest art in the world is that of manifesting the interplay of conflict between the beautiful and the ugly. Because it is only when we can gaze at the condition of balance between beauty and ugliness that we can stand in the midst of reality, not a one-sided reality which doesn’t belong to humanity. The human being must keenly and bravely confront the conflict between beauty and ugliness. He must be able to perceive the dissonances in the battleground together with the harmonies, to empathize with them and live with them. Strength for the development of mankind will arise out of this…” 50 Out of the back ground of such an archetypal motif in art have the pictorial motifs of Rudolf Steiner’s paintings emerged.
Practising on the model teaches us to truly unfold a disciplined kind of daring rather than imitating without creativity. In the process of becoming (evolution), and decaying (devolution); and the ever renewing essence of being; there stands not only the world motif of art, but at the same time, its continuity and its transformative being.
THE MADONNA MOTIFS OF RAPHAEL
The contemplation of several selected Madonna paintings of Raphael 51 sheds a glimmer of light on an important indication given by Rudolf Steiner. It brings forth a unique aspect both from the point of view of art history and that of art therapy. It touches upon that archetypal motif which is living in effect in each single masterpiece of the Madonna works by Raphael:
—– In the “Beautiful Gardener”, (the Madonna Jardiniere), we see the Jesus-child standing near the right foot of the young Madonna, as if he were reaching out toward his mother’s knee. —– “Madonna Alba” shows the child reaching towards her heart. The children Jesus and John are looking deeply into each other’s eyes, and directed towards one another; while the Mother, gazing into eternal space, carries the vertical axis. —– “The Madonna with the Gold Finch” (of the Cardellino) depicts the Jesus child again in relation to the earth. The children’s eyes are interwoven in equilibrium.
—– In the “Madonna Bridgewater”, their gaze is directed upward towards their mother’s right arm and weave, into the stream of her starry eyes.
—– The “Sistine Madonna” is standing upright, as if carried, above the clouds, stepping afloat in the unearthly equilibrium of the starry world. She holds the child, as if receiving him from above, born out of the spheres of ethereal heaven. Light out of the grounds of star-being is mirrored in his eyes.
—– The “Sistine Madonna” and —– the “Madonna Tempi” both appear to be suspended in balance. —– The “Madonna Granduca” lowers her gaze towards the depths, —– while the “Madonna with the Fish” shows the lively child, looking downwards again. There we come back to the “Madonna with the Gold Finch” where the child’s gaze is directed back to earth.
If one deepens the contemplation, an unutterable artistry of etheric-dynamics holds sway in an overview including all the Jesus-children as just described. In the weaving light spheres of the periphery and the way in which the Mother and child’s gazes are interwoven in the innermost grounds of the soul, there arises a super-sensible picturing of the pentagram in unity with the all, comprised of the composite viewpoints provided by each single painting. —– In the “Sistine Madonna”, as in Raphael’s last painting, —– “Transfiguration”, or —– “Glorification”, the five-fold circle of the “Golden Moon” is made manifest and carries the pentagram-mystery of man at the threshold of a new age. It shows the harmonious proportion of the smaller to the larger, the child to the mother, the greater part to its whole, the mother to the universe. So, the full-circle is realized, concerning the holy mysteries in the light of visual art: “The Art of Colour”. In the incomparable words of Baumeister Bramante, regarding his friend, Raphael’s Madonnas as spoken to Count Castiglione: “The godliness of this portrayal seemed to look upon me in an amazingly touching way; and it appeared to actually move. The most wonderful experience was that the picture fulfilled all that I have ever sought…The vision remained forever deeply imprinted in his spirit…”
And in a letter to Castiglione, Bramante writes: “Thus, I carry a special picture in my spirit which enters into my soul being.” 52
This archetypal picture portrays the balanced, harmonious inner resolution of the living one born of the virgin. The unveiled “I am”, born out of itself, manifesting in etheric movement is further characterized by Rudolf Steiner in its significance for the art of healing and the practice of self in the ceremonial services dedicated to Maria. It penetrated into the profound Christian mystery-impulse of Raphael’s art, as into the medieval picture of St. John and the Samaritans, and finally now into our immediate present. Through a meditative deepening and the practice of beholding an artwork in its colours, one can find healing out of that which the painter has freely fashioned.
Artistic research from the Renaissance to the present is interwoven with such riddles. The inception and destiny of Raphael’s —–“Sistine Madonna” can be juxtaposed to Michelangelo’s sketch for the —– “Tomb of Julius II”, which is a destiny symbol for the Renaissance and at the same time an echo of Egypt’s Temple Legend. There again we experience Isis interrelated to the death of Osiris. 53
Let us also view the figure of St Barbara in the —– “Sistine Madonna”, as the Patroness and helping hand in the hour of death: “Pray for my soul in the hour of death.”) She stands as a seed-concept preceding Goethe’s conception for the great scene of Faust’s Death and Resurrection which would remain an unsolved enigma without the understanding offered by Mystery-Wisdom. Its reality would have been hidden behind the veil of Isis. In the scene, a “penitent one” (who is, in fact, Gretchen), speaks, “Come close, you without equal, you bright streaming one. Your countenance lends grace to my joy!”
“See how he unravels
each bond of earth’s sheath
and how youthful forces
step out of etheric garments!”
Does the Sistine one not allow intimations of the following:
“Gaze into salvation’s eyes
All calmly gentle souls
Thanking you devoted
For this blessed fate…”
Here are the ripe fruits of Goethe’s cultural impulse. They sound forth, testifying to life after death, as yet unsealed: in order to achieve metamorphosis, transformation and progression towards destiny, out of the past, into the present, and onto the future. 54
ISIS – MOTIFS IN THE POETRY OF GOETHE’S TIMES
“One of them succeeded –
He lifted the veil of the Goddess.
But what did he see? He beheld,
Wonder of wonders, himself”
Research into the origins of the physical plane of continuity, in the realm of historical development concerning inner spiritual impulses of, will always seek far connections revealed in earthly manifestation. The dynamics of becoming and perishing, and being born out of the womb of the spiritual world must themselves remain hidden. For it is out of the spiritual world that the undying individuality of mankind finds its source. Such contemplations are characterized in the following words of Goethe: 55
“At the age of twenty-seven, it never fails that one sometimes thinks about death. The thought leaves me completely calm, for I am convinced that our spirit is a being of indestructible nature; it continues eternally without end. It is like the sun which only sets as viewed by our earthly vision, which actually never goes down but shines on forever.”
Yet, from the spiritual heights of Faust’s last scene comes the experience: “All things perishable are only a semblance, ascending to a higher reality.” Spiritual progression forms, determines its destiny, then releases it once more: “Here the unfulfilled comes into being.” Spiritual fashioning of destiny creates events out of the higher law – Evolution and Devolution, as indicated above. The enigmatic questions of ancient Egyptian mythology reappear in Everything flows upward: That which lives, carries death in itself due to the transient stream of becoming, but death, in turn, carries life in it. The concept of life and death exists in our living and dying. 56 And we see the “Gnothi Seauton”: reborn out of the spirit of the Delphic shrine in Novalis’ Motto: ” O Man, know thou thyself!”
In three evocations of recent spiritual history does the mystery of the veil of Isis ring out. First, a youthful call in Schiller’s lyrical-epic poem ‘The Veiled Image of Sais’ (1795).
The Veiled Image of Sais
A youth whose thirst for knowledge drove him hard
Arrived in Sais of ancient Egypt, there to learn
The secret wisdom. Soon he’d hurried eagerly
Through many of the priestly trials.
His need for research pushed him ever on,
And hardly could the Hierophant find means
To soothe the striving one’s impatient urge.
One day he said, “Indeed what do I have
If I cannot attain the All in All
With one tone missing there’s not harmony
One colour taken from the rainbow hues
Leaves nothing there; without the whole there’s naught.”
“You’ll have to ask the Godhead that,” replied
The Hierophant. “No mortal can remove
this veil until the time when I myself
Shall lift it up,” she said unto the youth.
“And he who tries with unproved guilty hand
to lift the holy veil, though it be forbidden
To him the Godhead will say – No-
He’ll see the truth.”
“That’s an unusual saying for an Oracle!
You mean you’ve never lifted it yourself?”
“Tis more important, this thin veil, my son
Than you would think. If for your hand it seems
Light, in terms of your own conscience it weighs
A ton”: “I will to see it,” shouts he loud…
“Look!”…Thereafter screamed a long and mocking echo
The powerful contradiction between the thirst for knowledge and guilty conscience arose before the young Schiller’s soul in the following pictorial image of Egyptian occult history. At the writing of his hymn “To the Sun”, Schiller is not yet eighteen years old – this is the voice of that temple novice.
To the Sun
“Praise you, as you ray out uprising.
Clamber now out of the womb of your cloud-mist eternal
Seeking lovingly. Now appear, shining out
O, like lovers now long apart
Does heaven eye earth and she then
Smiles at her loved one above…
Now she floats away ‘midst drifts of crimson cloud mist
…over unfathomably far waters
…over the cosmos.”
In the “Hymn to Eternity” sounded the age old utterances of the holy temples:
“Roaring speaks the hurricane
Zeboath’s name severly
Written down with lightning strikes:
‘Creatures do you know me?’
‘Yes, indeed we know you’ “
Who, in our times can imagine how deeply the hieroglyphs imprinted themselves into the young poet’s soul. In the high priest’s initiation, “Jao” or “Ihaho” was intoned in the burning bush of Moses: “I am the I am”, the name of Jehovah and the name of Isis resounded as one. In the syllable “Is” according to Rudolf Steiner lives the meaning: “experiencing the I as oneself”. In the repetition of Is – Is…. “I” mirrors the divine in individual human self-recognition. 19a
A second bright torch of Egyptian wisdom was burning in the poetic soul of Novalis. Answering Schiller’s tragic evocation of Sais in the resounding words of Heinrich von Otterdingen: “Conscience is certainly the innate mediator in each human being. It represents God on earth; thus it exists as the highest and foremost for so many people…Conscience is the human individual in its true glory, mankind’s inherent heavenly archetype. There is only one virtue – pure earnest will, by which one is able to decide for oneself and make choices instantaneously. Lively and indivisible, it incarnates and ensouls the human body’s gentle semblance and can set each spiritual counterpart into true activity.”
“O admirable father,” interrupted Heinrich, “with what joy does that light from your words fill me.”
“You are speaking the truth,” said Sylvester. “Thus you will understand that all of nature has its being only through the spirit of virtue, and will therefore endure. It is the all-illumining, all enkindling light within the bounds of earth. From the starry heavens to this lofty-domes rock domain, to the flowery carpet of rippled meadowlands, everything is sustained through it; and through it as well are the channels of nature’s endless legend directed radiantly forward.”
Novalis’s imaginations are woven out of the intuitive-conscience of innate human existence: “Heavenly life in Blue Garments” in the figure of the Flower-queen, interlaced with cloudy veils and revealed through the open-eye of age-old mystery vision.
“Wonderfully related to occult secrets appear his writings to us, for they are in accord with universal harmonies. Indeed, there spoke in our teacher the voice which knows how to weave all the scattered threads into one whole. One single light enkindles in his eyes when he sets the lofty Rune before us, and he discerns if the light in our eyes is the star which makes the image visible and comprehensible…I also desire to inscribe my image, and if no mortal can lift the veil from that inscription, then we must seek immortality. Whoever does not desire to lift it is not a true student of Sais.” Novalis’s “Hymns to the Night” reveal the veiled mystery of Isis!
The riddle of truth, power and inner-knowledge of guilt deeply affected Schiller, as he wrote in ‘The Mission of Moses’: ‘In the Egyptian mysteries one delved into certain hieroglyphic godly images which were comprised of various animal forms. The well-known Sphinx is one of this kind. To discern which qualities could be brought together into the highest being was one aim. A second was to unite the most powerful of all living beings into one body. Something was taken from the most powerful of birds, the eagle; from the mightiest wild animals, the lion; from the strongest tame animal, the bull and from the most powerful of all creatures, the human being. The image of the bull was used especially as the emblem of strength to represent the all powerful, highest being. Bull means Cherub in the archetypal language.
“Heavenly Beings in Garments of Blue” is the way Novalis describes “the ones who opened the eyes of ancient ages…”
In a third occult evocation, the riddle of Isis entered into occidental consciousness at about the same time as Schiller’s “Veiled Image of Sais”. This happened through Goethe’s “Fairy Tale” (October 1794 to September 1795!)
As a fulfilment of Schiller’s enigmatic question: “Truth and Guilt”, we see in Goethe’s characters in “The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily”:the wisdom in sacrifice! In Novalis’s “Hymns to the Night”, the unravelling of the twofold Mystery of Isis is made manifest.
Goethe melts down the Sphinx-riddle eagle, lion, bull and human in the lofty image of the three kings and the old man with the lamp. The youth of Sais appears as the hero, who frees up the offering of the snake:
“Shall I go on wandering to and fro, measuring my dreary steps to that side of the river and to this? No, there is still a spark of the old heroic spirit sleeping in my bosom; let it kindle this instant into its last flame! If stones may rest in thy bosom, let me be changed to a stone; if thy touch kills, I will die by thy hands… She held out her hands to keep him off, and touched him only the sooner…With a shriek she started back, and the gentle youth sank lifeless from her arms upon the ground…with her friend, the world for her was all dead as the grave…On the other hand the snake bestirred herself. With even more activity she seemed to meditate for deliverance…with her limber body, she formed a wide circle around the corpse, and seizing the end of her tail between her teeth, she lay quite still…” To this magical image of the silence of the grave is juxtaposed a transformation as from painted-art into sounding-music. Goethe reveals how the mysteries of Isis and Osiris echo into our times from out of Egypt’s temple art:
“Sorrow heightened her beauty, the veil her charms, the harp, her grace; and deeply as one wished to see her mournful situation altered, not less deeply did one wish to keep her image in mind forever. With a still look at the mirror, she touched the harp; now melting tones proceeded from the strings, now her pain seemed to mount, and the music in strong tones responded to her woe;… ‘Who will fetch Man with the Lamp, before the sun sets’, hissed the snake, faintly but audibly.”
Thus Goethe unfolds the death-imagination of the Beautiful Lily in resounding tones and musical inspirations…
Who would like to look upon Mozart’s enchanting spiritual creation at this moment? On the 30th September 1791, the first performance of
“The Magic Flute” had just taken place in Vienna. There, Mr Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was the composer, conducted the orchestra himself. This gesture came out of respect for his worthy audience, and friendship with the author of the script. 57 In the month of October there followed 24 performances, and in November 1792 “The Magic Flute” celebrated its hundredth performance.
The depth with which the spiritual world imprinted this Fairy Tale-Opera into the noble heart of middle Europe between the years 1790 and 1800 becomes apparent through these words of Goethe: “It may be that the greater part of the audience will merely enjoy this event; nevertheless, its higher meaning will not be lost to the initiated. So it stands with ‘The Magic Flute’.”
A spiritual thread winds through the works of great genius: In 1796 Goethe immediately began to fashion “The Magic Flute”, Part II out of the Fairy Tale. Its meaning remains relatively unknown to this day. The elevation of the musical into choral poetry allows its actual elucidation. Through the art of recitation and declamatory speech formation, the stage is set for this transformation. Now it can be portrayed, for the first time, true to the spirit of the ancient mystery-dramas.
“Day, the woodlands, cliffside grotto leading to a stern portal, hewn out of rock….
The Queen (in the clouds):
Who calls to me?
Who dares to speak to me?
Who interrupts this audacious quietude?
I hear naught. I am therefore alone!
….Billow ye clouds
Cover the earth
Make it dusky
Horror and dread
Grief and lament
Fading in fear
Now end the night song
Monostatos and the chorus:
They’re falling now here
And from the poles now
Arises the glow.
ere am I, loved ones
…Born in the night
In the grand house
And lost once again
O’ gruesome night
The threatening spears
Grim in revenge
Here threats of the troops
There threatened with dragons:
NOTHING HAVE THEY
AGAINST THIS KNAVE !
Goethe, who practised silence in regard to the deeper mysteries, transforms himself here into a prophet, to proclaim the awakening of the youthful forces of new-age consciousness, which before this time remained locked and sheltered in the temple grounds. Now they emerge in the daylight of high artistic Fantasy.
Thus, spiritual history at the end of the eighteenth century is interwoven with the creative striving of Schiller, Novalis, Mozart and Goethe. Goethe more or less interpreted the chorus of “The Magic Flute”: “O’ Isis and Osiris” into the powerful dramatic monument of “Faust I and II”.
In “The Fairy Tale” there wafts rejuvenated breath through sacrifice, purification and fulfilment!:
“Meanwhile the sun had set, and as the darkness increased, not only the snake and the old man’s lamp began shining in their fashion, but also Lily’s veil gave out a soft light, which gracefully tinged her pale cheeks and white robe with the dawn of a light rose-red.”
THE SEARCH FOR THE NEW ISIS IN RUDOLF STEINER’S WORKS
The Post-Goethean time of the 19th Century makes that which was brought to mankind in conjunction with the Post-Raphaelite age much more clear to conscious thought. It was transmuted in the language of the astronomical, mathematical and natural scientific viewpoints. Rudolf Steiner doesn’t designate it as the death of Osiris through Typhon-Ahriman as in ancient Egypt, but as the death of Isis through Lucifer!
Instead of the cosmic-streaming colour-aura of the starry heavens in the times of the Persian-Chaldean-Egyptian hierophant, there pre-dominated the abstract, “after-the-fact”, mathematical world-structure. Instead of the light-aura of the Hierarchy’s angelic hosts, proclaimed to the shepherds; the dim, greyish-white light of Newton’s mechanical world-view held sway. “In opposition to this Goethe brought his teachings about colour, in which colour was seen to expand into all the mysterious and manifold deeds of the entire cosmos. We, however, must penetrate through in our quest to find Isis once again…!”
In the course of recent times, there was a tendency to lose these very strengthening Isis-Maria forces. They might have been killed by that which modern materialistic consciousness has caused…the modern Isis legend comprises the death of Isis caused by Lucifer. The physical space-age exploration and the world of abstract mathematics created the grave of Isis. The legend continues with the quest for Isis, finding this Isis through the impulse of inner-spirit-knowledge, with the path of wisdom known through Anthroposophy.
As the Christian festivals of the “Holy Three Kings” and the “Baptism in the Jordan” were celebrated, on the 6 January 1918, Rudolf Steiner brought the new legend of Isis and spoke these words: “Then you will see why the new Isis mythos can now emerge alongside the ancient Osiris-Isis mythos and why both are necessary for the human beings of the present time. You will understand why one must now add something to the words that rang out from the standing image at Sais: “I am the all, I am the past, the present and the future; no mortal has yet lifted my veil.” There must now resound something else within these words; today these words are no longer a one-sided message to the human soul. The following words must now ring out together from that image:
I am the human being; I am the past, the present and the future. Every mortal should now lift my veil.” 25
Rudolf Steiner: Essay on Modern Criticism; Magazine for Literature, 1897Jg, Nr 27; and Aesthetics of Freedom by Hagen Biesantz; 3. Newsletter of Aesthetics; Free University of Spiritual Science; Dornach; St Johns Day; 1979.
The Complete Works of Gerard Wagner in the Archives of the Goetheanum Painting School in Dornach; Director, Elizabeth Wagner-Koch. Contains well over 1000 works of Gerard Wagner.
Gerard Wagner/Elizabeth Koch: The Individuality of Colour. Exercises Along the Path of Painting and Colour-Experience; Stuttgart, 1980.
Rudolf Steiner: Art and the Knowledge of Art. The Sensory-Extrasensory in its Realization through Art; Pocketbook Publications; Dornach, 1967.
Comparison of R Steiner: The World of the Senses and the World of Spirit. Lecture held in Hanover on 27.12.1911, in GA, 134. Collected works
The Brothers Grimm: The Fairy Tale of the Frog-Prince or Iron Henry.
R Steiner: Occult Reading and Occult Hearing (3., 6.10.1914 in GA 156). Collected works.
R Steiner: The Gospel of St Mark; Bern; 1.9.1910; GA 123. Collected works
R Steiner: Instructions for an Esoteric Schooling, Twelve Exercises Concerning Virtue: GA 245. Collected works.
Friedrich v Schiller’s Poem written in youth: The Greatness of the World.
J W v Goethe: Faust I
See Print No. 48
R Steiner: Truth-Wrought-Words. GA 40. Collected works.
Billing, Fritz: The Motif Sketches of Rudolf Steiner, 1961
As Reproductions out of the Sketch-Works of Rudolf Steiner (Rudolf Steiner Press, Dornach) appearance: a) ‘Light-Weaving’ Tempura Sketches, 1911, Original dimensions 102 x 67.5 cm. b) Designs for the Painting of the Small Cupola of the First Goetheanum, Portfolio 42 x 30cm. c) Designs for the Large Cupola of the First Goetheanum (out of print). d) Nine Training Sketches for Painters, ‘Nature Moods’, Portfolio 44 x 35cm. e) Seven Training Sketches (The Friedwart Sketches) printed in the original dimensions. g) Four Aquarelles: Madonna, 66.5 x 107.5cm; Easter 67 x 99.5cm; Archetypal Plant 69 x 107.5cm; Archetypal Animal 66 x 114cm.
See Rudolf Steiner: The Being of Colour, especially the lecture: Measure-Number-Weight; Dornach 37.7.1923; GA; Dornach 1973 Nr 291. Collected works.
R Steiner: Art in the Light of Mystery Wisdom; Lecture 2; 29.12.1914; Dornach; 1966; GA 275. Collected works.
For a more exact study of this motif, please see the two portfolios: ‘Twelve Motifs of the Large Cupola of the first Goetheanum;; Dornach 1930 and ‘The Motifs of the Small Cupola of the first Goetheanum’; Dornach 1930, as well as the book: Hilde Raske; The Cupola Paintings in the Goetheanum; Stuttgart; 1981
R Steiner: The Being of Art; Berlin; 28.9.1902. Also, See Annotation No. 3
R Steiner: The Being of Colour. Lectures 1914-1324; GA 291. Collected works.
R Steiner: The Relationship of Human Beings to Art, Science and Religion in the Old Orient, in Ancient Greece and in the Present. Lecture from 22.2.1923, in GA 221/259. Collected works.
R Steiner: Lecture from the 14.6.1916 in Basel: The Harmony Between Spiritual Science and Natural Science and the Misunderstandings about the first Building dedicated to Spiritual Science in Dornach.
This and the following citation to Prints 45, 46, 47 and 48 from R Steiner: The Painting of the Large Cupola of the Building, The Life of the Modern Soul in History, The New Language of the Future. Lecture from 25.10.1914 in GA 287. Collected works.
R Steiner: The Search for the New Isis, the Divine Sophia, 23. 26.12.1920
R Steiner: Christianity as Mystical Fact and The Mysteries of Ancient Times; GA 8, Collected works. Also Pocket Book TB 619.
R Steiner: Egyptian Myths and Mysteries; Leipzig; 1908; GA 106. Collected works.
Ernst Vehli: The Culture and Art of Egypt, An Isis Mystery; Dornach; 1955/1975
R Steiner: From the Akashic-Records; GA11. Collected works. Pocket Book TB 616
R Steiner: Wonders of the World, Trials of the Soul, Manifestations of the Spirit; Munich 1911; GA 129. Collected works.
Ernst Vehli: Mythology and Art in Greece in the Spirit of the Mysteries; Dornach; 1979
R Steiner: The Gospel of St Luke; Basel; 1909; GA 114. Collected works.
R Steiner: The Healing Forces of the Madonna Pictures. Spoken word of indication to Dr Peipers in Munich for patients of his clinic; 1911
R Steiner: Mystery Truths and the Christmas Impulse, Ancient Myths and Their Meaning; Basel/Dornach; 1917/1918; GA 180. Collected works.
R Steiner: The Mission of Art; Christiania and Dornach; 1923; GA 276. Collected works.
R Steiner: Art History as an Image of the Inner Spiritual Impulse II; Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo’s, Spiritual Greatness at the Turning Point of the New Age; Berlin; 13.2.1913.
Wilhelm Kelber: Raphael of Urbino, Life and Works; Stuttgart; 1979
R Steiner: Occult Science; GA 13. Collected works. Pocket Book TB 601
R Steiner: Cosmic and Human Metamorphosis; GA 175. Collected works not all available in English
Heinrich Harrer: Seven Years in Tibet
Emil Bock: Primordial History, 7th Edition; Stuttgart; 1978
R Steiner: World History in the Light of Anthroposophy; 1923/1924; GA 233. Collected works.
Frank Teichmann: The Human Being and His Temple, Egypt; Stuttgart; 1978
Northern Saga: King Olaf from Randulf in Norwegian Stories About Kings in Thule 15; Diederich’s Publishing Company; Jena, Germany
Emil Bock: The Three Years (in the Landscape of John the Baptist); 6th Edition; Stuttgart
Old Testament: The Book of Job, Capital 9
R Steiner: Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts, The Michael-Mystery; GA 26. Collected works.
R Steiner: Goethe’s Writings About Natural Science; Forward
R Steiner: In That Very Place; Annotations to Goethe’s Drawings in Dialogue with Schiller. See the Board Sketches about the Archetypal Plant in many lectures about Goethe
R Steiner: Outline of a Theory of Knowledge about Goethe’s World View; GA 2. Collected works.
R Steiner: Letters and Documents 1901 to 1925; GA 262. Collected works. The ‘Barre-Document’ for Eduard Schure
Gerard Wagner: Plant-Metamorphoses, Animal Metamorphoses, Transformation in the Elemental World in the Course of the Seasons; Phil-Anthr-Publishing Company; Dornach
Johannes Hemleben: Darwin, Pictorial Monography (Rowohlt)
R Steiner: Esoteric Contemplations about Karmic Relationship; Bd III; GA 237. Collected works.
Aristotle: Study of Animals
R Steiner: Anthroposophy, Psychosophy, Pneumatosophy; Berlin; 1909, 1910, 1911; GA 115. Collected works.
R Steiner: The Architectural Thought of the Goetheanum; Bern; 1921; GA 290. Collected works.
R Steiner: Mystery Drama, the Portal of Initiation; GA 14. Collected works not all available in English
Weekly Publication: The Goetheanum, News Report for Members; 57th Edition, Nos 21/22, 25 May, 1 June, 1980; Günther Meier: Visit to the Plant Colour Laboratory
R Steiner: The Mission of Michael, Lecture 3; 23.11.1919; in GA 194. Collected works.
R Steiner ca 1911 given to Dr Peipers in Munich. See also Note 24.
Monika von Miltitz: Novalis; Stuttgart, 1954
See We Kelber: Raphael; Stuttgart; 1979 and Friedrich Hiebel: in The Goetheanum 59, No 24; 15 June 1980: The Guardian Spirit of Spiritual Research VIII
Johannes Kühn: Art as Language of the Spirit, an Iconographic Study About the Sistine Madonna; Columbian Publishing Co
Rudolf Steiner characterises the final scene of Goethe’s ‘Faust’ in: The Gospel of St Mark (September 1912, Basel) in the first lecture as ‘Faust’s Ascending Into the Fire-Element of Heaven Through Father Seraphicus. In ‘Faust the Striving Human’ (14 August, 1915, Dornach): ‘This last scene portrays what could be called ‘Faust’s Ascension…now Faust must rise up in full consciousness, he must fulfil a new level of consciousness with which he is actually identical because he succeeds in ascending as full human being.’ In the exact sense of Goethe’s words, let us characterise the meaning of Faust’s death and ascension into the higher worlds: ‘The Younger Angel:
I see a host in motion
Float away from earthly weight
Linked in a circle
They are refreshed
By the renewed spring and ornamentation
Of the higher world
May he be surrounded
From the beginning
Of this glorious day
By such as they!’
The Radiant Mother repentant transformed:
‘before she was Gretchen’:
‘Come! Arise to higher spheres!’
We take this occasion ‘to point out that Goethe actually portrayed these last scenes out of proper spiritual knowledge, that he really knew how to create everything out of the true foundations: The foundations of consciousness.’ (R Steiner). Compare as well to the two lectures (Dornach, 15th August, 1915 and Dornach 16th August , 1915): The Realm of the Mothers, the Mater Gloriosa. See also Gertrud Zimmerman: Assunta in The Goetheanum, 10/17 VIII, 1980, about the Ascension of Maria.
Dialogue of Goethe with Eckermann
R Steiner: The Riddles of Philosophy, Band I (The world view of Heraclitus…)
Friedrich Oberkogler: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Magic Flute, Fairy Tale Opera and Mystery Play, 1975
R Steiner: The Seasons of the Year As Cycle of the Earth’s Breathing (Lecture from 1.4.1923); GA 223. Collected works not all available in English; Dornach 1976
R Steiner: The Human Being and the World, the Effectiveness of Spirit in Nature; (Lecture from 31.10.1923); GA 351. Collected works not all available in English; Dornach, 1965
R Steiner: The Creation of the World and of the Human Being; (Lecture from 30.6.1924); GA 354. Collected works not all available in English; Dornach 1924
R Steiner: Human Questions and World Answers