Reconnecting with the Rituals of Everyday Life

We are all connected, but only when we are following our own intuition and powers of imagination can we tune into that connection. Over the winter, I moved into a new office in town. A small space to work without subjecting my family to quiet times because mommy has a work call. I have always worked from home, but until our move to Wyoming I had a shared work space to escape to, be creative in, and just allow the ideas swirling around in my head a place to land.

I shared a space in a women’s creative collective when we lived in Texas. The women there were photographers, bakers, antique dealers, makeup artists, and yours truly. I took over the old kitchen space that had its prior life as a doctors office and before that a residence for the family who owned the pharmacy downstairs in the early 1900s.

I transformed my space from a kitchen into a workshop, with a farm table for a desk and old doors as a wall, and the kitchen became a place to be inspired with vintage linens, plants, and rusty garden decor. A vintage chandelier illuminated the space in a soft glow.

It became a place that everyone’s clients wanted to meet in to discuss creative projects. You could not help but be pulled into the space. It had a soul. You could feel the love of a space that spent almost a hundred years as the hub of home.

It will not surprise you as members of a connected community, that I received a message from a friend half a world away this week, that simply said “ ...I am feeling something inside of you needing expression…”

I had just started decorating my office earlier that very day. I needed that inspired space from my days at the collective and its energy back around me. I went in search of vintage furniture to bring life to my office. I am always drawn to pieces that have had a life before they reached me.

…I find too often the ideas of transcendence expressed on a cosmic scale rather than a human one, and in language which would need to be translated, or perhaps illuminated, just as ancient psalm books were illuminated by the monks throughout the Middle Ages and the earlier days of the Faith. - Dorothy Day


Our connections to our lives, past and present, often reconnect as we step back in time, and practice the rituals of life. I remember hearing the sound of the sewing machine as my mother created a softer, more beautiful home for all of us, or the sound of the lawn mower knowing my father was hard at work keeping nature in perfect symmetry.

Take time this week to reconnect with the rituals of life housed in your memory. Your efforts will ripple through the world of our connected community.


Separating Grief and Trauma

How do we proceed with such important matters so that, by cultivating the right attitude and taking the right actions, we might even prevent certain developments? Because that also is part of our task since Anthroposophy would be meaningless if we only practiced it privately for ourselves.—Ita Wegman, 1933


Over the past week, I attended the London Book Fair and was able to meet some friends of SteinerBooks in the UK. This meeting of people from around the world was united through the written word and its ability to bring people together. While we were there, we heard about rising knife violence in London, a tragic plane crash in Ethiopia, and a shooting at a mosque in New Zealand. The outside world kept moving, while we learned of new thoughts and ideas that could help the world.

How do we help our communities overcome the trauma, begin to grieve, and finally heal? How do we continue to live in the world, while learning new ways to engage and support our fellow citizens? Today, I will share some books that are helping me work through these questions.

“Despite some essential similarities between trauma and grief, there are obvious differences that one needs to be aware of. As part of a sociological study, William Steele and Melvyn Raider (2001, 155) listed the following differences between trauma and grief responses. While the grieving process involves feelings of sadness that have no effect on the griever’s self-image or self-confidence, trauma evokes a sense of horror and overwhelming powerlessness and leads to a loss of any sense of safety, a distorted self-image and the loss of self-reliance. Grief results in despondence while trauma leads to silent suffering.” - Bernd Ruf, Educating Traumatized Children

We need to understand the difference between trauma and grief if we are to help our communities heal after tragic events and to provide a process to help others restore their faith in the world. We can do this through soul nurturing activities like reading fairy tales to children, connecting to nature, and establishing rituals to ground us in times of inconceivable world events. We need to practice activities that interrupt what Bernd Ruff calls “shock energy”.

Many of us would like a handbook for working through trying times such as these. No matter how we work through this shock energy, we must move through it.

More Radiant than the Sun will be a valuable companion for anyone ready to move beyond reading verses into working with verses by Rudolf Steiner. This handbook offers verses, exercises, and original instructions from Steiner, along with commentary, suggestions, and context from Gertrude Reif Hughes, a student of Anthroposophy for much of her life.

Centering Prayer and the Healing of the Unconscious is an essential work for all those interested in the history and practice of centering prayer. In addition to describing the background of this unique and effective practice, Fr. Ó Madagáin offers unique insights into the ideas of one of its leading contemporary teachers and practitioners.

Our world will continue to swing between tragedy and joy, but we have an opportunity to grow stronger and wiser during the times of conflict so that we can live more deeply in joy in times of health.



Being Present in the In-Between

“Create moments of inner peace for yourself, and in these moments learn to distinguish the essential from the nonessential.” - Rudolf Steiner, How to Know Higher Worlds


How do we navigate the in-between? The time between winter and spring, when we wait to watch nature burst to life again through the budding of trees and songs of birds. The time we wait for the farewell to the beautiful soundless space of winter.

It is in these quiet essential moments watching the snowfall or raindrops as they slide down a window pane that we allow the universe to speak to us in all of its glory and wisdom.

It is no accident that the great thinkers, writers, and artists of the world would retreat to a cabin in the woods for periods of dormancy and rebirth of their creative stream just as nature provides us every season.

If we view our lives as seasons, we soon realize that there are times to grow and times to rest. As we come to the end of our winter season here in the US, take time to reflect, watch the budding of the trees, and listen for songbirds, but enjoy this time of in-between. It requires that we dig deep, and slowly unfurl our gifts for another season of growth. It will soon be time to grow again, but there is no need to rush. Spring will be here in living color before we know it.

This week, we bring you a gift of a free eBook download: Bees (CW 351) to celebrate the in-between.


In 1923 Rudolf Steiner predicted the dire state of today's honeybee. He stated that, within fifty to eighty years, we would see the consequences of mechanizing the forces that had previously operated organically in the beehive. Such practices include breeding queen bees artificially.

The fact that over sixty percent of the American honeybee population has died during the past ten years, and that this trend is continuing around the world, should make us aware of the importance of the issues discussed in these lectures. Steiner began this series of lectures on bees in response to a question from an audience of workers at the Goetheanum.

Click on image above and enter coupon code: bee100

Click on image above and enter coupon code: bee100

From physical depictions of the daily activities of bees to the most elevated esoteric insights, these lectures describe the unconscious wisdom of the beehive and its connection to our experience of health, culture, and the cosmos.

Bees is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the true nature of the honeybee, as well as those who wish to heal the contemporary crisis of the beehive.

Bees includes an essay by David Adams, "From Queen Bee to Social Sculpture: The Artistic Alchemy of Joseph Beuys." The art and social philosophy of Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) is among the most influential of the twentieth century. He was strongly influenced by Rudolf Steiner's lectures on bees. The elemental imagery and its relationship to human society played an important role in Beuys's sculptures, drawings, installations, and performance art. Adams' essay on Beuys adds a whole new dimension to these lectures, generally considered to be directed more specifically to biodynamic methods and beekeeping.

Shakespeare and the New Ideals - Rudolf Steiner

Receiving Shakespeare into our minds and souls might therefore be the very stimulus to give us men and women of today the power, the inner impulse to follow ideals, to follow real, spiritual ideals. We shall see our true ideals aright if we bear in mind how transitory many modern ideals have been and are, and how magnificently firm are many old ideals that still hold their own in the world by their effectiveness.
— Rudolf Steiner, APRIL 23, 1922

The Power of Sleep to Unite Nature, Art, and the Senses

And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.
— William Shakespeare

Several years ago, I enrolled in a course in Eco-Art Therapy. This transformational counseling and self-discovery tool takes the participants through a nature-based discovery practice with the senses as a guide. The activities and the reflection take place over two days, so that the participant can sleep before reflecting on the experience in their journal.

What I discovered transformed the way I experience nature in a way that is difficult to explain. This method of connecting with the wordlessness of nature through self-expression creates a connection between your inner and outer life.

On a heart level, Eco-Art Therapy is a window into one’s soul that allows you to build a map to your most natural knowing self. Every lesson takes on new meaning as nature provides the answers you seek.

Rudolf Steiner understood the power of nature, art, and healing well. He realized the potential of sleep to unite us with the spiritual world through the digestion of the day's experiences when combined with the spiritual world. The idea of being aware of your senses can be hard to describe, which is why artistic expression can be a better window into a sensory experience. It can quiet the thinking mind and awaken the spiritual self.

This week, we bring you ways to experience the soul nourishment of the arts, through some of our favorite books and invite you to get out into nature and listen to her call.

To arrive at a truth or to create beauty that reflects the order and harmony of the Creator, we must always begin humbly, in ignorance and ugliness. By striving out of ignorance and ugliness toward the true and beautiful, both scientists and artists can bring new, creative forces into the world. Neither memorizing data nor copying a beautiful drawing engages the true imagination of students as does drawing a flower from life. It is precisely this lack of an active, striving inner creativity that can result in the frequently overwhelming feelings of anxiety and alienation experienced by so many people today. As a counterbalance, education must—in all areas of knowledge—increasingly focus on the personal creation of what, through its beauty, speaks truth and through its truth radiates beauty. 

Drawing from the Book of Nature is about both drawing and the natural world of plants and animals. It is a valuable resource for teachers, students, and anyone who wants to develop a capacity for artistic observation of natural phenomena.

Dennis Klocek provides a refreshing combination of depth and clarity, offering a wealth of insight into the lives that constitute living nature. The text is supported by easy-to-follow lessons that help the reader bring the kingdoms of nature to life on paper. This book is a resource through which teachers, students, and others can find their own way toward reuniting with beauty and truth. 


What Does it Mean to Be Human?

On many winter Sundays you can find me at our local ski mountain, as a ski instructor. Our wonderful nonprofit is a winter playground to our communities’ children and families. I have had the pleasure of teaching many of our community children to ski over the last two seasons.

Last Sunday was different, as I was asked to teach a young man that doctors told his parents would likely not walk, or talk much less ski. G, as I will refer to him, was born 12 weeks premature and with a brain bleed that was shunted. I met G, now age 19 and his mom last Sunday, and spent over two hours helping my new friend make turns in the freshly fallen snow.

“...the people in ancient times were aware that everything in the human being is connected not only with the things that develop on Earth but also with everything that the eye can see when it turns towards the heavens.” - Rudolf Steiner, What is Necessary in These Urgent Times, (CW196)

I found myself with a broad smile as I guided my new friend down our ski trails. I look forward to meeting him tomorrow and learning more from a boy that many thought would never communicate. In him, you can see how much we do not understand and how much we have yet to learn.

“Our task is to discover the real difference between those processes in the human organism that we call disease processes—which are basically quite normal, natural processes, even though specific causes must precipitate them—and the everyday processes that we call healthy. We must discover this radical distinction, but we shall not be able to do so if we cannot take up a way of looking at human beings that really leads to their essential nature.” —Rudolf Steiner, Introducing Anthroposophical Medicine (CW 312)





Problems of Nutrition: What is Your Right Nourishment?

“Diet, through spiritual development, becomes the personal problem of the thinking individual. In conscious awareness he comes to measure his nutritional requirements against the background of his inner spiritual activity. In response, he satisfies his nutritional needs with a conscious surety as positive in its way as the instinctive ability of laboratory rats to choose in their way the right food.” - Gilbert Church, Ph.D., New York City, June 2, 1968

Problems of Nutrition

“ When we as spiritual scientists consider our organism, we can ask ourselves if we do not make our bodies unfit for the execution of the intentions, aspirations and impulses of our lives if we become bound by and dependent upon our bodies through an unsuitable diet. Is it not possible to mold the body in such fashion that it turns into a progressively more suitable instrument for the impulses of our spiritual life? Will we lose our freedom and become dependent upon our bodies if we ignore what is the right nourishment for us? What must we eat so that we are not merely the product of what we eat?” Rudolf Steiner, Munich, January 8, 1909

In the past I have spoken here on a variety of subjects concerning spiritual life. It may be permissible today, therefore, for me to touch upon a more prosaic theme from the standpoint of spiritual science. Problems of nutrition undoubtedly offer a more mundane subject than many we have heard here. It will be seen, however, that particularly in our age spiritual science has something to say even concerning questions that directly affect everyday life.

On the one hand, spiritual science stands accused, by those who know it only from the outside, of aspiring too loftily to spiritual realms, thus losing the firm round under its feet. On the other hand, the opposite can perhaps also be heard again from those who have become acquainted with spiritual science or anthroposophy through only a single lecture or brochure. This consists in the statement that anthroposophists are entirely too concerned with, and talk too much about, questions of what they should eat and drink. In some respects these critics might well be called idealists in that they believe they view the common aspects of life from a certain exalted level. They raise this objection particularly by taking a stand that can be expressed in the following way.

“What man eats and drinks is unimportant. It does not matter what food one takes, rather must one rise above the material dimension by the strength of ones spirit.”

Even a well-intentioned idealist might level this objection against anthroposophists. Well, at a time when these questions are being widely discussed from other angles, it might be interesting to hear what spiritual science has to say about them. It was a German philosopher, Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, to whom the phrase, “A man is what he eats,” is attributed. Many thinkers of consequence have agreed with Feuerbach that what man produces is basically the result of foods ingested by him and his actions are influenced by the food absorbed in a purely materialistic way through his digestion. With so much discussion of eating going on, somebody might get it into his head to believe that man is indeed physically nothing more than what he eats. Now, we shall have several things to say on this point. We must understand each other precisely as to the purpose of todays lecture and the intention behind it. We are not agitating in favor of particular tendencies, nor are we trying to be reformative. The spiritual scientist is obliged to state the truth of things. His attitude must never be agitatorial, and he must be confident that when a person has perceived the truth of what he says, he will then proceed to do the right thing. What I have to say, therefore, does not recommend one course as opposed to another, and he who assumes that it does will misunderstand it completely. Merely the facts will be stated, and you will have understood me correctly if you realize that I am not speaking for or against anything. Bearing this in mind, we can raise the question from the standpoint of spiritual science as to whether the statement, “A man is what he eats,” does not have a certain justification after all.

We must continually bear in mind that the body of man is the tool of the spirit. In discussing the various functions the body has to perform, we see that man utilizes it as a physical instrument. An instrument is useless if it is not adjusted correctly so that it functions in an orderly manner, however, and similarly our bodies are of no use to our higher organism if they do not function properly. Our freedom can be handicapped and intentions impeded. When we as spiritual scientists consider our organism, we can ask ourselves if we do not make our bodies unfit for the execution of the intentions, aspirations and impulses of our lives if we become bound by and dependent upon our bodies through an unsuitable diet. Is it not possible to mold the body in such fashion that it turns into a progressively more suitable instrument for the impulses of our spiritual life? Will we lose our freedom and become dependent upon our bodies if we ignore what is the right nourishment for us? What must we eat so that we are not merely the product of what we eat? By asking such questions, we come to look at the problem of nutrition from another perspective. You all know, and I only need allude to this generally familiar fact, that speaking purely materialistically, people continuously use up the substances that their organisms store and they therefore must take care to replenish them with further nourishment. Men must concern themselves with replenishment. What, then, could be more obvious than to examine those substances that are necessary for the human organism, that is, to find out what substances build up the animalistic organism, and then simply see to it that the organism is given them. This approach, however, remains an extremely materialistic one. We must rather ask ourselves what the essential task of a man food is and in what way it is actually utilized in his organism.


Fellowship and Community Building

It is certainly clear to anybody who keeps up with the way civilization and culture are presently developing that the times themselves demand the deepening of knowledge, the ethical practice, the inner religious life that anthroposophy has to offer. On the other hand, however, a society such as ours has to act as a vanguard in an ever wider disseminating of those elements that are so needed under the conditions that prevail today. - Rudolf Steiner, Awakening to Community, SteinerBooks / Anthroposophic Press

I visited a special place this week, The Fellowship Community, An Inter-Generational Care Community, settled on 80 acres of farm and forest, 90 minutes north of New York City. The Fellowship Community serves the needs of elder members through the phases of aging. A place like no other I have experienced. The warmth of the community cuts through the winter temperatures and leaves you with a sense that this experience has changed you in some way.

The members of this community, including our dear friends at Mercury Press, are there to support their fellow community members in an aging process that is not only dignified but energized by the spirit of everyone you meet. My only wish is that all Americans could experience their final days on this earth in a place that celebrates this transformation and the journey ahead.

Today, I am sharing Rudolf Steiner’s lecture, Awakening to Community, in the hopes that you all can find ways to bring care and celebration to those in your community who need your fellowship. - Kathy Donchak

If this anthroposophical life is to develop in a practical direction, everything it undertakes must be born of fearless knowledge and a really strong will. This presupposes learning to live with the world in a truly anthroposophical way. People used to learn to live anthroposophically by fleeing the world. But they will have to learn to live anthroposophically with the world and to carry the anthroposophical impulse into everyday life and practice.
— Rudolf Steiner