If one looks deeply at the appearance of the meeting room of the Munich Conference 1), it is possible to discern its meaning in relation to the new artistic impulse that Rudolf Steiner gave for a spiritualised cultural evolution of humanity. This conference, given when Rudolf Steiner was the German representative of the Theosophical Society, can be seen as a precursor of Anthroposophy.
As Hilde Raske writes: “ The Planetary Columns emerge out of ‘spiritual hearing’ and the Apocalyptic Seals emerge out of ‘spiritual seeing’. The Seals are sketches from the book of “Revelations” of St. John.
For the conference, seven columns were painted on two metre high narrow boards. These were imprinted with the signs of the planets as expression of the great levels of cosmic development. These columns were placed on a festive red wall, and between them were the seven Apocalyptic Seals… The red–blue polarity of the wall [red] and ceiling [had to be imagined as blue] colours was represented in a red and a blue column. The red one carried the letter “J” and the blue one carried the “B”, the initials of Jachim and Boas from the columns of Salomon’s temple. The two columns are also to be seen on the fourth, the middle, of the Apocalyptic Seals…”[Das Farbenwort. Freies Geistesleben 1983]
In the first lecture of the Munich Conference, the following is written: “Our inner world must become as purified etherically, as the world ether above, which moves toward us in blue. Our learning about it is pictured as the colour red [our surroundings]. If red surrounds us in an outside representation (as in the walls of a building), there lives its complementary colour inside us… The esoteric sense is conveyed in the colour red…In the Rosicrucian worldview the area above ( as in the ceiling of a building) would be lifted up as blue-domed curves, having an exoteric ceremonial significance… In the two columns represented, the red one is the expression the red blood, the “I am”[The Tree of Life]; The blue blood is the expression for “death”[The Tree of Knowledge]…There will be a time in the future when the human being will be able, by his own higher consciousness to change the blue blood into red..”
I believe that the contemplation of the mantra “Jachim and Boas” can also bring forth an understanding of spiritualised seeing, “J” and hearing, “B”:
In clear thought will you find Transform your feeling into light,
The self that remains upright. And you will manifest forming forces.
Change your thoughts into pictures Forge your will into existence,
And you will experience creative wisdom. And you will create in the World-Being.
This configuration leads, in a later lecture, to a perception of “body-free thinking, feeling, and willing” in relation to five arts. The art of painting is there seen as a merging of the wellsprings of artistic phantasy and supersensable cognition.[GA 271 Munich, 5.May 1918], and is manifested already in the Apocalyptic Seals.
The question is, “What emerges effectually from this level of art in the consciousness of those who partake in it, the reciprocal giving and taking of the artist and the onlookers or the listeners?”
Certain archetypal spiritual realities are brought down from higher realms into physical representation through the individualities of artists who have evolved the soul organs with which to accomplish this. It is a process of sending back up into the spirit that which it was destined to receive it in the course of cosmic evolution. This occurs not only in artistic spheres, but can be made accessible as art to benefit cultural development. The human being makes himself an instrument to use all the mediums at hand for cultural development. The spirit learns to delve into matter, so that the human being can grasp the relationships of the deepest physical matter with the spiritual.
A “stream” has been prepared for this kind of deed in the course of the last five hundred years. Spirit has descended deeply into the material plane of matter. This was a necessary development for the consciousness of mankind. The Rosicrucian stream has helped to see to it that spirituality can flow back up, as offering for the gods. Since the last third of the 19th century, spirit has begun to ascend again… All who strive spiritually, are striving to ascend out of the depths of involvement in the physical…to sense its intrinsic link to the spirit, which was evident to us in ages past.
How can we arise again, in a healthy way, and in full consciousness? To facilitate this Rudolf Steiner was to give indications for a number of artistic paths in the next sixteen years [among which are architecture, sculpture, painting, music, speech and drama, and eurhythmy].
Such a high mission can serve to unite the strivings of artists in our century where materialistic competition seems to run rampant. After the artist ascends and brings down a higher archetype into his individualised style, that new artistic creation can exist on the earth, to benefit humanity and as “food for the gods”.
In the highest sense the archetypal creative activity of procreation, will be fulfilled by human beings of the future. Human beings will be “called” into incarnation through speaking. Marie Steiner brought “The Drama of Eleusis”, by Eduard Schure to the Munich Conference. It portrays the essence of the Persephony Mythos, which has an essential connection to the process of descent and ascension. As Theodore Willman writes in his poem “Life”:
“…to illumine in fire-the hieroglyphs of the deep-and unloose Pluto’s bonds-so to release spirit from matter’s limitations-in the shining lustre-which in unfolding-attests to new forms…”[The Art of Colour, Freies Geistesleben,1980]
The first experiences of Formative Speech were given in “The Drama of Eleusis” The “word” springs to life from the printed page, the forming forces of the etheric are manifested in the weaving together of vowel and consonant; creative breath becomes a reality in time, space and rhythm-a healing in a personal and a universal sense.
As represented in the Apocalyptic Seals of the conference, the larynx will be transformed into a spiritualised organ of reproduction. Human beings will incarnate in transformation. “In the beginning there was the Word”, and at the end there will be the Word. When mankind brings forth what is a realisation of the Word, we will no longer have the physical forms we have today; we will have progressed to the form that existed on old Saturn, to fire matter. All will be fiery, hence the fiery sword that projects from the mouth of the figure in the first Seal, as well as the fiery feet of flowing metal. The condition that comes forth when the lower forces are finally conquered is symbolised in the Holy Grail of the last Seal. Seeds of this future development are to be found in the evolution of Formative Speech.
From the spiritual world there come the revelations that disclose themselves to mankind, only when we continue to progress; then the Book with Seven Seals will be opened to us.
The Munich Conference has an immense application to artistic striving. In the spring of 1908, Karl Stockmeyer, who had sensed in the hall decorations, the hidden presence of a new architectural impulse, began the work which evolved into the “model building” in his garden at Malsch, Germany; where one can still see the Seals and Columns. Ideally, according to Steiner, the building itself should have been hewn out of a rock face of granite, reminiscent of the underground temple in Goethe’s Fairy Tale].
The columns and architraves of the first Goetheanum, which tragically burned down in 1923, as well as those of the second Goetheanum, which is located in Dornach Switzerland on the grounds where the original edifice was burned, manifest the etheric sculptural initiative of the Munich Conference. ( See the poem ‘Intervals’ in the Hexameter Section of this website).
Here I have only been able to give an impression of some of the content and impulse of the Munich Conference. What comes out of it, in our artistic striving today, is a matter for each individual to decide.
1) See Bilder Occulte Siegel und Saulen – Der Muenchner Kongress Pfingsten,1907 und seine Auswirkungen, 1977, Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach, Schweiz.