Dear Friends of the Camphill Movement:
Last year’s Bible readings were devoted to the theme of “the refugee.” This theme addressed the worldwide suffering of the millions of homeless people displaced by war, poverty and the abuse of human rights. In response to the worldwide event of illness and death that has unfolded in 2020, this year’s readings will turn to the theme of “healing.” The viral pandemic has coincided with the eightieth anniversary celebration of Camphill’s founding. As the year 2020 moves through the summer and into autumn, we are aware of another important eightieth anniversary for Camphill, namely Karl Konig’s spiritual experience with Zinzendorf (August 30, 1940) while he was interned on the Isle of Man as an enemy alien. This experience inspired the Bible Evening. The first Bible evening was held in Camphill Estate a year later on August 30, 1941, after Karl Konig had been released. (1) With the founding of the Bible Evening in mind, we turn to the stories of the healings in the New Testament.
It seems obvious under the current circumstances of a worldwide pandemic to turn to the theme of healing. Moreover, in celebrating the Bible Evening’s central role in helping to create and nourish Camphill’s community life over the last eighty years we turn to healing as a way of seeing more clearly the connection of the Bible Evening with the life of the community and the festivals, particularly Michaelmas. The theme of healing will hopefully help us to understand the role of the Michaelmas Festival in generating healing forces related to community building.
Interestingly, in the History of the Bible Evening Karl Konig makes the following remark: Michaelmas 1940 should be celebrated as Easter, when, like 2000 years ago, Christ became the spirit of the earth, he now becomes the spirit of humanity. (2) This observation points to an important spiritual insight that Rudolf Steiner shared in a passionate set of four lectures given at Easter in 1924, his last Easter lectures. (3) In these four lectures he explains that the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection belongs to the autumn/Michaelmas Festival, not to the spring/Easter Festival. He says that the resurrection’s association with Easter as a spring festival is a mistake.
… the Festival of Easter (as a celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ) has been confused, in the course of the early Christian centuries, with an entirely different festival, and has on this account been changed from an Autumn to a Spring festival. (4)
Over the course of four lectures he explains that the resurrection mystery belongs to the autumn/Adonis festival tradition of the ancient mysteries that celebrate the passing through human death and the finding of life in the spiritual world after death. He refers to this as the “ascending” into the spirit from earthly life either through death or spiritual development/initiation. It is the birth in the spirit after death that is the true Sun Mystery of resurrection. The dying of the outer life of nature in the autumn season is the appropriate setting for the festival celebrating the spiritual life that is found following death. The festive celebration of our spiritual life after death and the inner preparation needed in order to find the spiritual life after death is the essence of the Michaelmas Festival.
Rudolf Steiner continues to explain that the spring Easter Festival in the season of sprouting new life in nature celebrates the human threshold of birth, the moon mysteries, the embodiment out of the spirit, the “descending” into earthly life. The Easter Festival, as the opposite of the Michaelmas Festival, celebrates the manifestation of life on earth out of the spirit, the Moon Mysteries of birth and incarnation.
Rudolf Steiner tells us that a spiritually informed celebrating of both the Easter and Michaelmas Festivals is necessary to unfold the new mystery culture appropriate for our time. The unfolding of a new mystery culture is the impulse of the 1923 Christmas Foundation Stone gathering. Karl Konig explains in the History of the Bible Evening how the Bible Evening belongs to the Michaelmas Festival, awakening the renewal of the Sun Mysteries and serving the Foundation Stone impulse. For example, he explains how the three parts of the Bible Evening are related to the three parts of the Foundation Stone meditation.
The renewal of the Sun Mysteries through the Foundation Stone impulse is essential for new community building. New communities arising out of the healing social forces of the new Sun Mysteries celebrated at Michaelmas help to create and nourish the earthly homes and places of work arising from the Moon Mysteries of the Easter Festival that celebrates the incarnating onto the earth of human beings and the earthly work human beings do together. (5)
Today, if a Michaelmas Festival can take place, human celebrants preparing for a spiritual life after death through inner development will discover new social forces with their fellow celebrants. Karl Konig follows up on these thoughts in his three Michaelmas lectures on community building and the threefold social order, which he gave at the end of his life. These lectures are an inspiring expression of Karl Konig’s view of Camphill as a community in service to Michael. (6)
By reading the stories of the healings in the New Testament, our Bible Evenings this year can be an offering from Camphill to our fellow human beings all over the world during this time of challenge to our humanity. The Bible Evening can be a healing space of safety, trust and respect, open to the variety of cultural perspectives that now live in the Camphill Movement. Let us celebrate eighty years of Bible Evenings by turning again to the spiritual reality of the Bible Evening: the healing interweaving of the ascending Sun Mysteries of Michaelmas and descending Moon Mysteries of Easter.
The theme of healing, the Bible Evening and the Michaelmas/Easter Festival dynamic is captured in this well known leading thought from Karl Konig to the community where the Second Coming of Christ embraces the thresholds of birth and death.
It is one of the main tasks of the Community to make truly alive the life of Christ on earth in each of its members and in those with whom they live and work, so that each day of work and celebration seems to be accompanied by Him.
It should come so far that the landscape of Palestine, of Galilee and Judea, become for each of us a homeland. Not that we should develop a longing for it, but that it is so inscribed and “painted in” to us that it becomes like the land of our youth. It should come so far that the days of the life of Christ on earth, His words and ways, become like a garment of our souls and that through this, our wandering will be guided by His wandering.
Only then will the places of the Community become places where the Second Coming of Christ can happen … for the events of the Holy Land and of the Mystery of Golgotha are not past events, but present ones. To tear the curtain away from the ether world and to live in the reality of these events ever and again is what is necessary. (7)
From Onat Sanchez-Schwartz, Thomas De Leon and David Schwartz
Other members of this year’s Bible Reading Group: Richard Neal, Carrie Schuchardt, Marc Blachere, Tim Paholak, Rebecca Bissonnette, Karen Arthur, Gabrielle Beratan and Felicity Jeans.
(1) The History of the Bible Evening, from a lecture by Karl Konig, given August 30, 1953. Note: The version of this lecture in The Camphill Community — A Chronicle, 2016, English edition, is misprinted by mistake, leaving out the portion about Karl Konig’s meeting with Zinzendorf.
(3) The Festival of Easter: A Page from the History of the Mysteries, four lectures, Dornach, April 19-22, 1924, GA/CW 233a.
(4) Ibid. Lecture 1, April 19, 1924.
(5) See The Cycle of the Year, Lecture 3, April 02, 1923, Dornach, GA/CW 223. This important lecture also addresses the relation of the Michaelmas and Easter Festivals and the Threefold Social Order. See also, Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts, Volume 2, The Michael Mystery, GA/CW 26, Letter 24, Man In His Macrocosmic Nature, March 1925, about the relation of the moon and sun forces in relation to Easter and Michaelmas.
(6) Becoming Human – A Social Task: The Threefold Social Order, Karl Konig, Floris Books, 2011, see the three last lectures in the book: Michaelmas and the Threefold Social Order, Fohrenbuhl, September 20, 28 and 29, 1964.
(7) May 29, 1949, see The Camphill Community — A Chronicle, 2016, page 66. For more about the Second Coming, see The Appearance of Christ in the Etheric: Spiritual Scientifc Aspects of the Second Coming, Sergei O. Prokofieff, Temple Lodge, 2012.