The Waiting Books

This week, I had a wonderful conversation with our dear friend, Christopher Bamford. I say our friend, because Christopher is one of those rare people who can inspire you through words on a page. Long before I came to work with SteinerBooks, I read his introductions to books as if  I had this great teacher sitting in front of me introducing me to the material.

This week, I am sharing a bit of our chat with all of you with his blessing. Our conversation veered in a new direction as I asked him how he was feeling. For those who are not aware, our dear friend is in a treatment regimen for cancer.

He described a space between understanding and beginning. The time that you are aware of a new protocol and beginning it. I shared with him the story of my father’s cancer journey, or at least the part of that journey I experienced.

We talked about the many faces of our biographies and how we share only parts of those with those in our lives. The cancer patient versus the writer, the cancer patient versus the father.

We spoke about my sharing books with my father over the years and how that selection changed when he was fighting and healing. I remember wondering what waiting books are best to share. The waiting books as I call them to help you pass the time, but also can become a tool in your own recovery and acceptance.

Chris told me that he was rereading Rudolf Steiner’s Autobiography, and with each new reading, he gained a new lesson. The chapters in the course of all of our lives give us a new perspective on life’s experiences and a panoramic view of the activities that led us here.

It is in times of challenge that we turn to the observational practice of looking back at events and remembering them from a sensory perspective instead of the actual image. As I look back at the trading of books with my father, it is the emotions that these memories evoke that are housed in my mind.

Chris shared that we can all learn about our lives through the lens of another's biography. It is this type of book that can bring meaning to our journey through the lens of another.

Rudolf Steiner and the Masters of Esoteric Christianity

ANNOUNCING

AN EXTRAORDINARY AND INSPIRING NEW BOOK

BY SERGEI O. PROKOFIEFF

Rudolf Steiner and the Masters of Esoteric Christianity is a fitting and revelatory capstone to a life of extraordinary dedication to the beating heart—the very life—of Anthroposophy. It is also valedictory. Written in Sergei Prokofieff’s final years, it is clear, straightforward, luminous; it unfolds naturally, without haste, with magisterial clarity, and in perfect control of its material.

Prokofieff’s first book, Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries, the first of more than forty books, in a sense already contains the seed of the last. For the New Mysteries brought into the world by Rudolf Steiner are in fact the Mysteries of Esoteric Christianity. Without this compass, Anthroposophy as Rudolf Steiner brought it into the world cannot be understood. To comprehend Rudolf Steiner as a Master of Esoteric Christianity, and Esoteric Christianity as the heart and life-blood of Anthroposophy, this is the essential book.

For those who may not know his name, Sergei Prokofieff, who died on July 26, 2014, was a true servant and, one might say, a Master of Anthroposophy, dedicated to revealing the true, esoteric Christianity by which, as he might put it, Anthroposophy lives. Russian born, but from the 1980s living in the West, in Dornach, Prokofieff brought to the research, study, practice, and interpretation of Rudolf Steiner’s teachings a deep, unwavering commitment to the task of unveiling the esoteric, living Christianity that is at the very foundation of Anthroposophy.

The story of the Masters begins in Berlin, at the turn of the twentieth century, when Rudolf Steiner is asked to give a lecture to the Theosophical Society on Nietzsche and then to follow it with two lectures of his own choosing. These two lectures already broached themes of esoteric Christianity and were, in fact, Christian and Rosicrucian in essence. They subsequently became the first properly anthroposophical/theosophical books, namely, Mystics at the Dawn of the Modern Age and Christianity as Mystical Fact.

All three lectures were very well received. Moreover, Rudolf Steiner, who was already familiar from his Vienna days with Theosophy, felt at home, perhaps unexpectedly, with the theosophists he met. The upshot was that he was asked to become the general secretary of the German Section.

Right away, he was faced with the reality that Theosophy, having first been Western (founded in New York) and Rosicrucian (Blavatsky’s first book, Isis Unveiled, was Rosicrucian in inspiration), was now explicitly Eastern (non-Christian) and showing signs of becoming anti-Christian. These signs, within a few years, would manifest in the proclamation of Krishnamurti as at once Christ and the Maitreya Bodhisattva.

It should not be forgotten that Rudolf Steiner was esoteric Christian and Rosicrucian from the beginning—from his days as an altar boy to his encounter with the Rosicrucian herb-gatherer Felix Kogutsky (who led him to M [the Master]), his Goethean studies, and his apprenticeship with the philosophies of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, as well as with those whom they had studied, namely, Meister Eckhart, Paracelsus, Jakob Boehme, and other Rosicrucians. More important perhaps, Rudolf Steiner had already undergone the initiatory Christ experience he describes in his Autobiography:

The Christianity that I had to find was not in any of the existing confessions. After the severe, inner struggles during that time of testing, I found it necessary to immerse myself in Christianity and, indeed, in the world where spirit itself speaks of it.

My relationship to Christianity should make it clear that my spiritual science cannot be attained through the kind of research ascribed to me by many people. They suggest that I have assembled a theory of spirit based on ancient traditions. They suppose that I have elaborated Gnosticism and other such teachings. The spiritual insight attained in Christianity as Mystical Fact is brought directly from the world of spirit itself. I examined the records of history and incorporated them into that work only because I wanted to demonstrate, both to the lecture audience and to the book’s readers, the harmony between history and what is perceived spiritually. But I took nothing from historical documents for the book’s content unless I had first experienced it in spirit.

During the period when my statements about Christianity seemed to contradict my later comments, a conscious knowledge of real Christianity began to dawn within me. Around the turn of the century, this seed of knowledge continued to develop. The soul test described here occurred shortly before the beginning of the twentieth century. It was decisive for my soul’s development that I stood spiritually before the Mystery of Golgotha in a deep and solemn celebration of knowledge.

Against this background, Rudolf Steiner’s task in becoming the general secretary of the German Section was to ween it gradually from its Eastern sources, while at the same time infusing it with Western and Rosicrucian esoteric Christianity. From the beginning, he was led to understand from higher sources that Theosophy was the natural and appropriate spiritual vehicle for our age, but to fulfil this task its universal origins had to be recovered; a task esoteric Christianity could accomplish. Indeed, there were not two esotericisms, but only one; for, as Rudolf Steiner said in a lecture on April 12,1909: “There is no wisdom of the East that has not streamed into Western occultism; and in Rosicrucianism you will find absolutely everything that the great sages of the East have preserved…. The wisdom of the West must embrace all the teachings of the East … and—without allowing any of it to be lost—illuminate it with the light kindled within humanity by the Christ impulse.”

The great pivot in this task of returning Theosophy to its universal origins through the infusion of esoteric Christianity came with the Theosophical Congress of 1907 at which Rudolf Steiner was given permission to create his own “Western” Esoteric Section and teaching. And so, at the very first meeting of the Esoteric Section following the Congress, Rudolf Steiner announced: “At the head of our Western School there are two Masters: The Master Jesus and the Master Christian Rosenkreutz.…What is given through me on behalf of the Masters of the West goes independently alongside what Mrs. Besant teaches on behalf of the Masters of the East.”

The nature and mission of the five additional Masters—Mani, Scythianos, Gautama Buddha, the Maitreya bodhisattva, and Novalis—emerge in Prokofieff’s narrative in concert with his exposition of the great fruits of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual research, including: Christ’s return in the etheric, the reality of and consequence of the two Jesus children, and the spiritual unveiling of the esoteric significance of the different Gospels. These are woven together with the other Christian Mysteries that open to us in our time, namely, the Michael Mysteries (Archangel Michael), the Sophia Mysteries (Divine Feminine Wisdom), and the Mysteries specific to Christ Jesus and the Mystery of Golgotha. These Mysteries, in some sense specific to Rudolf Steiner’s special mission, lead finally to a profound consideration of the spiritual individuality of Rudolf Steiner himself—to Rudolf Steiner as a true Master of Esoteric Christianity.

From this point of view, Prokofieff describes the “archetypal phenomenon” of Rudolf Steiner’s initiation as consisting of four aspects: First, “Not I, but the Christ in me,” exemplifying the highest stage of intuition, the receiving into himself the impression of the ‘I’ of Christ Jesus, which Prokofieff calls “the most important result of modern initiation.” Second, being overlighted by the Holy Spirit, whereby he was able to form a new connection to the cosmic sphere of the bodhisattvas. Third, the conscious experience of Sophia in her contemporary presence, enabling the spiritualization of the present Michaelic intelligence—the intelligence awakened in our time by the Archangel Michael that makes possible the entry into the spiritual world and the working with the etheric Christ. Fourth, the full spiritualization of the Michael intelligence through the path outlined in his Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. In Steiner’s words, “Michael wants a human being to become a free being who through the path of his concepts and ideas also finds an understanding of what comes to him from the spiritual world by way of revelation.” In this sense, the archetypal phenomenon of Rudolf Steiner’s initiation is available to anyone willing to undertake this path.

There is, of course, much more. What I have given here are only glimpses of what Prokofieff presents. Though this rich book is remarkably accessible, it requires deep reading and meditation to grasp its full significance. Every deep and life-changing book makes that demand of its readers. Reading this book with an open mind and an inner need to understand more deeply the significance of Anthroposophy as an esoteric Christian path and also—between the lines—Rudolf Steiner himself as a Master of Esoteric Christianity, the teacher of an esoteric Christianity of the present and the future, this book could be a life-changer.

Christopher Bamford

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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)