The Therapeutic Art as seen from three points of view

The following is taken from ‘Foundations of Anthroposophical Medicine, A Training Manual’; Edited by Guus van der Bie and Machteld Huber.

1. Colour Therapy

‘The colours of the visible spectrum of light (the rainbow) are related to various physiological processes in the organism. The warm colours work on everything connected to metabolic processes in physiology; different shades of blue and purple correspond more to nerve-sense processes. Green connects these areas with one another and is related to the quality of the middle.’

The Rainbow, by Rudolf Steiner

‘The rainbow!…I feel within me a mood of pray: that is how the rainbow begins, in the most intense violet, that goes shimmering out and out into immeasurable distances. The violet goes over into blue, – the restful, quiet mood of the soul. That again goes over into green. When we look up to the green arc of the rainbow, it is as though our soul were poured out over all the sprouting and blossoming of Nature’s world. It is as though, in passing from violet and blue into green, we had come away from the Gods to whom we were praying, and now in the green were finding ourselves in a world that opens the door to wonder, opens the door to a sensitive sympathy and antipathy with all that is around us. If you have already drunk in the green of the rainbow, you are already on the way to understanding all the beings and things of the world. Then you pass on to yellow, and in yellow you feel firmly established in yourself, you feel you have the power to be man in the midst of Nature, – that is, to be something more than the rest of Nature around you. And when you go over to orange, then you feel your own warmth, the warmth that you carry within you; and at the same time you are made sensible of many a shortcoming in your character, and of good points too. Going on them to red, where the other edge of the rainbow passes once again into the vast distances of Nature, your soul will overflow with joy and exultation, with ardent devotion, and with love to all mankind.’

2. Speech As Therapy

In speech strengthening takes place directly through the breathing: soul pain becomes transformed. The upsurging stream of breath from the diaphragm is constantly gripped and released, awakening the placement in the forming of vowel and consonant. Words are breathed in, and set free in space, time and rhythm. The human being experiences his own individuality.

The Significance of Air (The following is taken from ‘Anthroposophical Therapeutic Speech’)

‘The medium in which speech finds its expression and which the sound is shaped is the air. This is the element receiving the colours, shapes and sounds of speech, carrying them through space. It is not possible to speak in a vacuum. Thus, it makes sense to take a close look at the nature of air.

Let us picture the shore of a lake on a calm summer day with a path, lined with flowers and trees, leading to it. The picture obviously rests in itself, remains unchanged, static in a perhaps sublime and yet lifeless calm that may be experienced as oppressive or paralysing. However, as soon as a breeze springs up everything changes. Suddenly there are waves on the water surface, dust is blown up, leaves are rustling. Thus the first impression we have of the air is one of movement.

If we enter more deeply into the picture we will become aware of the transformation brought about by the movement: the waves lapping on the sandy shore wash the sand into the water, blossoms are pollinated, dry branches drop to the ground, the surface of the path is changed. Thus, any movement of the air begins a process of transformation, both in the living and the inanimate world.

In a certain sense any movement means overcoming gravity. What is rigid comes into motion, what is heavy becomes light. This phenomenon of air bring about lightness is shown, for instance, by the fact that an object filled with air is able to float on the water. Warmth and light are carried by air, completely permeating the latter so that they may be transmitted to the substances of the earth.

These phenomena of the external air underwent an internalisation during the course of evolution, in that organisms arose which possess their own internal breathing. However, as soon as a creature is able to breathe independently it can overcome the forces of gravity and move away. It movement is not passive, induced from the outside, but the result of an inner urge to move. In animals this is species-specific and determined by instinct. In human beings movement is generally meaningful expression of inner intentions of the soul or the spirit. ‘

Air brings about lightness

Air causes movement which leads to transformation

Air conducts light and warmth, which brings about brightening and enlivening.

Speech as Formed Exhalation

‘Speaking about speech we may quite naturally resort to a terminology that is connected to art. Speech may be called malleable or sculptured when the breath stream is shaped and formed by many strong consonants. When the sounds create the mood or the pictures, it is painting with sound. The music in language is experienced in the resounding vowels and in its inherent melody.’

3. Creative Writing

Poetic rhythms link sound to colour and musical qualities in their dynamic relation to earth, water, fire and air.

From ‘Sing Me The Creation’, by Paul Matthews:

‘In the past decade or so, another approach to creative writing has sprung up. Instead of the deadly approach to the technology of language, aspiring writers are now doing inner visualization work, paying attention to dream images, shifting attention to the inner world. The intention here is to learn how to stay close to the image, and to write directly out of the inner experience of image. Such psychological approaches to creative writing put the emphasis on creativity rather than the act of writing.’

The Quintessence

Here, gathered back into the seed, is all that we have worked with. At the centre stands the ‘I am’, the primal sentence (logos) which contains all possible grammars within it. It is both subject (inner) and object (outer); both noun (form) and verb (movement). It is the four sentence types folded in one. All names and grammars that we know have fallen from that source, but through activating the ‘I am’ within us their given elemental powers can be worked through and filled with the ideals here inscribed around it.

N.B. A seed is not a summary; it is a fire placed under the earth to bring things into motion. So it can be left to you to quicken it by exploring what qualities and acts of language arise when these elemental powers decide to collaborate –

Earth = the statement Air = the exclamation

Water = the question Fire = the command

i.e. when Statement and Question listen to each other.

when Question and Exclamation wonder about each other.

when Exclamation and Command are moved by one another.

when Command and Statement give ground to each other.

when Question and Command wish each other well.

when Statement and Exclamation partake of each other’s qualities.

Much of this is embodies (in a more artistic form) in William Blake’s painting of Adam, where we see the earthly image of the ‘I am’ forming and informing, moving and being moved, in the overlap between inner and outer where living language arises.