Today I have embarked on a topic, which came up intuitively from the previous lecture on The Alchemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz.
It is related to the manifestation of life’s continuous weaving and becoming out of death in the processes of Nature.
Life and creativity was given to us. Mankind is meant to evolve and to create. Speaking about God, the father principle brings us back to the old Saturn evolution. The beginning passage of the St John’s Gospel:
‘In the beginning there was the WORD. And the WORD was with God, and the WORD was a God. This was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of the human.’
My story, called ‘The Night-Peacock-Eyes’ with its illustrative art, is a celebration of ‘life’s becoming out of death’ in the sense world. It is also an attempt to bring the Phantasy of painting and one of Nature’s cycles of metamorphosis into connection.
The elemental world is active, serving the processes of Nature, so the salamander being of ‘Tasha’ emerges in my story. My paintings are by not meant to be supersensible representations, as such. The story is written in a metre called Hexameter, which will be spoken about later.
The Alchemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz 1459 by Valentin Andreae for which I have illustrated seven paintings contains a Seventh Day chapter, which refers to the newly made ‘Order of the Golden Stone’ . It came into being through initiation process in the book. The Order is to be ascribed only to God and his handmaid Nature. The original language was the Old Dutch of the early 17th century when Valentin Andreae intuitively recorded this account.
How is one to understand this turn of phrase ‘Nature, the handmaid of God’ ? Nature, as we know it, becomes personified.
J. W.Goethe, the German poet and scientist (1749-1832) believed that the entire world is a living organism that breathes and has a heartbeat. All visible phenomena follow a polar pulse of separation and union.
In his Structure and Formation of Organic Nature he took the following words, speaking about God, from the Book of Job 9 verse 11, as a maxim:
‘SEE, HE GOES BEFORE ME AND TRANSFORMS HIMSELF BEFORE I NOTICE’
These transformations, in relation to the wonders of Nature are indeed in the service of a higher law. The handmaid appears to be no other than what in mythology can be described as the creative forces of the Goddess Natura, a metamorphosis of the ancient Persephone.
Since the Mystery of Golgatha, Christ is in the elements, therefore a metamorphosis is still evolving. Christ and Mary the mother are now often experienced as interconnected beings.
In the early Middle Ages one could still see the suprasensible presence of the Goddess Natura. The Natura teachings of Ephesus and Eleusis were well understood by Goethe.
In Greek myth, Persephone (Natura) manifests the Godly spiritual origin and eternal strength, out of which she has emerged and is constantly emerging. We find no stasis or permanent finished form in Nature. Everything is constantly in motion.
One can have intimations of the created existence as well as the intrinsicessence, ( The divine principle and The creation itself, which is always in the process of becoming and the divine principle which sets that process into motion).
Demeter, Persephone’s mother, (also can be seen to be metamorphosed into an aspect of Isis Maria Sophia). She is the divine being who represents the fertile wellsprings of chastity in the periphery surrounding the earth sphere. But at this point one is speaking of Natura, the daughter principle.
Rhythm must lie at the base of the ascent and descent of the light spheres, which also creates the change of the seasons. This is parallel to the changing process to be understood in the mythological representation of Persephony’s rising in the spring’s blossoming and descending back into the depths in the autumn. The Greeks had 24 rhythms, which were made of various combinations of the ‘shorts’ representing levity ( the rising) and the ‘longs’ representing gravity (the fallng). The levity represents summer, the gravity, winter and all the 24 permutations can be experienced in a 24 Rhythms poem that I wrote.
Goethe wrote poems describing Nature’s plant and animal metamorphoses in the dactylus metre of Hexameter, which I have also used for my stories. This metre is an instrument of poetic perception. Six dactylus to a measure with a beats pause in the middle (for its proper therapeutic value).
It is used to help cure stuttering and depression to mention only two possibilities. The spinal fluid is pushed upward and vibrates in the organ of the pons, bringing the circulation to the head during recitation. The sense world becomes more focussed etc.
Human kind lives in harmony with the cosmos in relation to the human organism. Hexametre proceeds in accordance with the breath and pulse beat.
Nine lines of Hexameter equals eighteen breaths. The pulse beat is in the ‘longs’ of the dactylus.
We breathe 18 times per minute, which equals 25,920 breaths.
We live on the average 70-71 years, which equals 25,920 days. The world breathes us in – and- out, and we are born and die.
The Platonic year of the sun, that is at the spring equinox, appears to go around the whole heavens, shifts around to each Zodiac constellation, and comes back again in 25,920 years.) that makes one platonic year. For example, the next Platonic year will be in the constellation of Aquarius.
The moments of nature transformations can well be described in Hexametre. Listen to this description of the Night Peacock Eyes in Hexametre. The moment from contraction in the cocoon to the emergence of the winged moth, is an artistic parallel – to a kind of resurrection:
‘Nature’s cocoon was prepared;
– her ‘sarcophagus’ would transformsoon,
Glist’ning and ready for flight–
as beloved seeing wings, the night flyers
Living to dance in the lightwaves,
so Tasha was glad to be patient.
Springdid at last make its entrance;
the dainty new legs then appearing,
Pushedfrom below ‘til they cracked
the brown chrysalid. Slowly expanding,
Wingsin a shining wet film
such as petals of blossoms unfolded,
Starting to flap and to fly
while encouraged by Tasha of firelight.
That is one moment of transformation in Nature out of seeming death. In the rainbow’s progression one can experience this principle of ‘steigerung’ or enhancement in atmospheric phenonema, as well as in the cycles of plant and animal metamorphosis. Out of the red emerges yellow and finally the blue.
Polarity as seen in the complementary colours, for example and as male and female etc. -is a property of matter in so far as we think of it as material; and ‘steigerung’ is matter insofar as we think of it as spiritual at the seed moments when spiritual evolution can be made manifest. Steigerung is where the next step can be made possible. This is also true in the human organism. We are still evolving.
To understand Goethe’s Theory of Colour in polarity and steigerung, and apply it to artistic, transformations, Rudolf Steiner dedicated much of his university research in Weimar. His work stands behind the ‘Nine Nature Sketches for Painters’ and the ‘Motif Sketches’, which he gave in the early 1920’s.
There are four principles that Goethe experiences in the phenomena of Nature :
‘steigerung’ or enhancement,
and competition. Lets listen now, to Goethe’s ‘Hymn to Nature’ in which we can experience these principles poetically as deeds of ‘the Handmaid of God’:
Nature, we are by her surrounded and embraced.
Powerless to step outside her bounds,
And powerless to enter more deeply in.
Uninvited and unprepared
She takes us into the circling of her dance
And drives us with her on,
Until we begin to tire
And fall away from her arms.
She creates ever new forms;
All is renewed and still as of old.
She builds ever and destroys ever;
She lives in endless children,
And the mother, where is she?
She is the unique artist…
She acts a play…
There is eternal living, becoming and moving in her;
She is ever in transformation
And there s not a moment stagnation in herr.
Her tread is measured,
Her exceptions rare,
Her laws unchangeable.
She has premeditated , and considers steadfastly.
Human beings are all in her and she in all.
Even the unnatural is in Nature;
Even the clumsiest pedantry has something of her genius.
She loves herself…
She rejoices in illusion…
Her children are without number.
She spurts her creations out of nothing into being.
Life is her most beautiful invention;
Death her device
For having a lot more life.
She wraps a human being in stupor
And spurs him ever toward the light.
One obeys her laws
Even when he rebels against them;
One works with her
Even when he would work against her.
She makes everything that she gives a blessing.
She has no language or speech,
But she creates tongues and hearts
Through which she feels and speaks.
Her crown is love
She makes clefts between all creatures,
And all things she would swallow up.
She has isolated all things,
To draw all together again.
She is all.
She rewards herself and punishes herself,
Delights and torments herself.
Past and future she does not know.
The present time is her eternity.
She is kind. She is wise and still.
She is whole and yet ever uncompleted.
To each she appears in a particular shape.
She conceals herself in a thousand names.
And is always the same.
She has drawn me in;
She will lead me out again.
I trust myself to her.
All has been spoken by her,
For all she is to blame.
Everything is her due.
Within this poem exist many characteristics that Goethe perceived in Nature. Rudolf Steiner has said that only that which exists in seed form in Nature forces, and in the workings of Nature and becomes ‘held back’ in a sense, can eventually evolve into higher forces of cognition. This ‘holding back’, a seeming ‘death in the seed point’ where metamorphosis can be understood is very important.
Death is indeed Nature’s device for having a lot more life. It is similar to the plant’s development from bud to blossom and in the steps of the butterfly’s metamorphosis from the caterpillar. Both the bud and the cocoon bear a likeness to this ‘holding back’ seed appearance only to prepare for a higher life form. Nature weaves the dead into living, a hidden parallel to the forces of resurrection.
Natura (Persephone forces of ancient mythology)
By Theodor Willman
Amidst such living – unfolding – weaves a tapestry – above me –
I am – the one arising –
Waves wide spread – carry me – out of death into form – out of form into shape
The ether stream widens – in the restful glow of light forces
‘Art is Nature’s servant’ and ‘Nature is the daughter of time.’ Nature reveals her secret to the one who is able to further her creativity through Art. The struggling artist can make a breakthrough just at that point where the greatest trial occurs. Death-point or catharsis is then seen as positive. That is the attitude that brings new creation in art. Believe, that the next colour choice may save the day, so to speak, and you are working in accordance with human evolution. Art may manifest the prefigurations of future human evolution that are expressed in natural phenonema like the cycle of the Night Peacock Eye. It is a manifestation of the divine plan, if we can only perceive its transformative secrets.
Artists’ inner productive forces, such as after-images, come from that primal organ. ( Goethe wrote that he could inwardly perceive the metamorphosis of seed to leaf to blossom, etc). This work of the ‘primal organ’ must be allowed to unfold freely. Artistic perceptions must grow, expand, and contract in order to eventually evolve objective being out of the ‘shadowy’ images.
This inward development is fostered by what can be called the divine Sophia.
Isis Sophia ( transformed Demeter forces of ancient mythology)
By Theodor Willman
Out of – this flame – a breath of fire – can florish
A seed – which streams light – into all worlds –
And unfolds free centres – living powers – in the breadths –
Which – arise in carrying – and rise up lifting
The stream – of transformed shapes –
Life – creativity – was given-
The flame – glows –spraying sparks-
Deep within – in the act – of coming into being-
Self-kindled – fleeting light – brightens the cold –
All that exists – within – is yourself-
Radiant warmth – streams to you – in amethyst rays.
Translated by Katherine Rudolph