Copyright Alan Whitehead & Earthschooling: No Part of this book, post, URL, or book excerpt may be shared with anyone who has not paid for these materials.
Alan speaks in a very symbolic and esoteric manner in some parts of his books. Although they can be read anthroposophically, passages speaking of Atlantis, archangels, gods, etc. do not need to be taken literarily to be meaningful. The more you read, the more you will realize he uses many different religions to express ideas in a symbolic manner and not in a religious manner. His writings are not religious. In some places his writings are meant to refer to religious events in a historical way. In some places he is using religious figures (from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, Ancient Roman and Greek Religions, etc.) in a symbolic manner. However, at no point is he promoting a specific religion or speaking from a religious point of view.
I have kept the writing as close to one-hundred percent original so you will also find that he speaks of Australia often and some spelling or manners of speaking may be cultural. Any words I have changed are presented like this: <word>.
Also keep in mind that these books are written by a Waldorf teacher with decades of experience who also studied with a Steiner student himself, so he speaks to an audience that is dedicating their lives to the Waldorf method without exception.
Because of this, all of his views are not reflected in the Earthschooling curriculum and not all of them may be ones you want to embrace or are able to use. In all of Alan Whitehead’s writings the opinions are his own and may not align with Earthschooling or Waldorf Books. In some cases, we will be updating some of these chapters in the future with additional and/or updated information.
Ultimately, however, as I read through these passages I find I can distill wisdom from even those paragraphs that do not resonate with me.
We invite you to read with an open mind and heart and with eagerness to learn and discuss…
THE MARTIANS HAVE LANDED – CLASS 10
“Hai!” roared the instructor, and twenty 16-year-olds advanced in attack mode. The teenagers were hardly a hand-picked lot, preparing for a commando raid behind enemy lines; they were girls and boys of all sizes and shapes – some a little too plump for good health, other rather then and sallow. Of course there was also a sprinkling of very well-built ‘young adults’.
In short, this was a normal Class 10. Today they were giving a demonstration to parents and teachers of the skills they had learnt in their Tae Kwon Do sport unit. At the moment they were showing how to disarm a knife attacker – wooden ‘knives’ flew in all directions, and the, as if to some secret signal, they all parted, stood very straight, and bowed! A spirit of civility replaced the naked aggression of a few moments before.
“I don’t know,” said Prim, the Class 2 Teacher, as she sipped her orange juice “it is violent, and it does access that destructive part of the human being. But I must say they do look smart in their crisp, white pajamas. Mind you I wouldn’t let my children do it.”
“I wouldn’t even let my Class 7! Agreed Academic. But he looked as if he would change his mind as he admired the perfect physique of the female instructor “I can see that a development plateau has been reached in the 16th year, where if the students didn’t learn a martial art of some kind – and I do stress art – then a yearning to express the Ares, or Mars, aspect of the soul might be thwarted. Yes, I think it’s good for Class 10. I wouldn’t do it though, I hate fighting.”
Chairperson was wolfing down a packet of chips, and between munches gave his point of view. “The emphasis on grace seems to qualify this sport as a performance art – the opponents seem to be engaged in a ritual dance – very elegant indeed. But no normal folk like fighting – even boxers, just prior to stepping into the ring, wish they were in another profession, you can see the fear in their eyes as they wait for the bell. However sometimes conflict is necessary – to defend the weak, or indeed one’s own person, property, or principles – to put down oppression, or to make sure that justice is done, and seem to be done. The Mars Soul is a fact of earthly (and I daresay, spiritual) life.
“I built a few foundations for that myself last year when mine were in Class 10.” Said the dark, intelligent-eyed Class 11 Guardian “As you know, I was a lawyer before I entered the more lowly-paid but more highly-respected teaching profession.” Everyone had a good laugh at this – all for different reasons!
“I took the students for a 3-week unit in law; here the combatant process is refined to oratory – and of course ideas. Speech is the flashing sword of the courtroom.” Advocate’s large, dark eyes sparkled in recollection of her triumphs at the Bar. “Ahem, we, er, in class, set up a mock trial, with students performing the various roles, like defendant, prosecutor, judge and jury. This was invaluable in familiarizing them with court procedure – they fought out the issues in as near to a real-life situation as possible. We even visited the Supreme Court – the ultimate in sophisticated martial environments.”
The demonstration hall was large, and the yellow, timber floors highly polished; parents and teachers applauded each surprisingly good ‘performance’ with enthusiasm. The students even broke squares of wood with both hands and feet. If nothing else, this martial art business is a great physical activity – as well as providing firewood!
The audience sat around the central space at large tables; the room took on, well, a festive air. But all too soon it was all over, the combatants were herded off by busy parents, some more quickly than others! The teachers ordered liquid refreshments; this was going to be their weekly meeting; they were at first observing, and then discussing, Class 10.
Athletic, the Class 10 Guardian, jogged lightly over to the big, round table, his face was red and he was sweating slightly. He wore a black belt around his loosely-fitting ‘pajamas’; his strong feet were bare.
“Well, what did you think?” he said sitting down, hands on knees, trying to gauge reaction by studying each face in turn – and then they all broke into spontaneous applause!
“Whew! That’s good, I thought you might have imagined I was turning them all into little Argos. The ethical code in Oriental martial arts is straight as a line; the skills must never be used for offense – only defense, of self or others. You know how they started? Along the Buddhist pilgrim paths, monks would be attacked by bandits, in some cases for their miserable begging bowls!…”
“Yes, we know, the monks perfected an art of defense whereby they could render their assailants helpless, without really hurting them, or killing them at least.” Cut in Chairperson, milking his coffee “It does bring in an important element in high school education, the Buddhist stream, one of considerable Astral, or visionary, qualities.
We must become aware that one of the most sublime doctrines, the 8-fold Path, is a soul journey of personal development most apt for modern teenagers. It’s remarkable how The Path harmonizes absolutely with the 7-fold Planetary soul-unfolding of the West, the Ptolemy system. They both start at Class 8 – the 14-year-olds are ‘Saturn’ beings – and The Path exhorts us to ‘Right Understanding’ – understanding that can only ultimately be achieved by Contemplation (or Meditation), the Saturn quality. Then with…”
“I know,” said Artistic, the Class 9 Guardian “my Class are going through this now – Jupiter, year of Wisdom. Hence the Buddhist injunction of Right thought – not just thought mind you, right thought, wisdom. This is all foundation-building of course – there aren’t many wise 15-year-olds. The title of that great book is The Getting of Wisdom.”
“As I was saying,” said Chairperson crisply, taking another crisp “the consistency between two great spiritual impulses, which ostensibly never met, is breathtaking in its implications. Now we get to Class 10 – the Mars year in the Ptolemaic system, and…”
“…the third Buddhist invocation – Right Speech! Perfect – Mars or Ares expresses most forcibly in the world through speech. Hitler was a Mars type – not only was he the world’s biggest mouth, but he won the IronCross, the highest German military honor, twice, in the horror of the trenches on the Western Front in World War I – and he was only a corporal, almost unheard of.
Again the focus in Class 10 is on Right Speech, not any old kind. Speech, which is beautiful, accurate and constructive. It shows that the Mars principle has two distinct facets – the first, the rather primitive ‘fight to survive’; the second is more obscure, but correspondingly more vital – compassion.
This was revealed in certain mystery schools as the Sacrifice of Buddha; due to his Enlightenment, Buddha, the most spiritually advanced human being, could no longer incarnate. He has qualified to ride the heavenly merry-go-round forever, the Wheel of Nirvana – eternal bliss. However, he was aware of the parlous state of the world he left behind – bad and getting worse. Not the least of its problems emanated from Mars. He sadly decided to forgo Nirvana for the time being and re-fashion the assertive forces streaming onto the earth from the Planet of War; fashion them to more compassionate ones.
So Buddha went to live on Mars – spiritually of course. My 16-year-olds are unconsciously yearning to understand this aggression/compassion duality, so they were all ears when I took a unit on Australian History from 1918 to ’45. This covered The Depression and World War II.”
Bee Man, the Class 8 Guardian, looked up with interest, well to be fair, with more interest. “It must have sunk in; when I was extracting honey with your class the other day, they were constantly going on about Depression stories – like the one where the lady lost her baby, but still had milk, so she suckled a starving old man – very moving. (I know you got that from Steinbeck.) Bees are an image of compassion/aggression – like the story of the bees which nested in an old Roman helmet…”
“That’s right,” said Athletic quickly, wresting the topic back from ‘blabbermouth’! “some of the more unsophisticated boys wanted to hear the blood-and-guts stuff about Australia’s participation in WWII; but the stories that really affected them were of heroism and compassion – like when an Aussie soldier shot a sniper, a crack shot who had taken out at least five of his company’s men; he pulled out of the dead Jap’s wallet, a crumpled photo of wife and children – the soldier wept. These stories, depicting the horror and futility of war, are the soul-grist to the 16-year-olds spiritual mill.”
A pensive calm followed this sad story, Chairperson, after stirring his coffee slowly, was first to speak “Class 10 is a year of spiritual synthesis – as well as being a Mars year, it, according to the Educational Zodiac, is the year of Aries. Mars of course lives in the House of Aries – hence the synthesis, yes?
Such consistency – such spiritual co-operation! But this whole thing seems male-dominant – even though the girls participate in every subject. Can someone tell me in what specific way the Mars-Aries factor serves the needs of the girls?”
“Fashion for one;” said Artistic “my class can’t wait till they’re in Class 10 so they can have their fashion unit, culminating in a major parade of course. This ‘display’ factor, seen so beautifully in many birds, is a Martian characteristic. And if other Class 10s are any indication, there will be a particular interest in fashions from the East. In Oriental culture, the male styles often emulate the aggression of the hawk – and the female, the dove, demure and full of grace.”
“Ah, the hawk and the dove – universal symbols for the higher and, well, lower aspects of Mars.” Athletic was determined, in his non-aggressive way naturally, to retain control of the meeting. After all, it was hisclass they were discussing.
“The organ of Mars is the gall bladder – this small, green ‘money purse’ receives a kind of diluted bile from the liver, and concentrates it into a bitter, higher potency substance, capable of attacking all sorts of difficult-to-digest foodstuffs which stall in the duodenum.
Emotionally this gall or bile (both words used widely to express various aspects of assertion) can permeate the whole being. The hawk has a large and active gall bladder – and the dove? Indeed the whole pigeon family, have none at all!”
“Gosh!” goshed Prim, crunching the ice from her orange drink “I suppose one can get an insight into the state of the adolescent gall by observing their behavior – or vice versa?”
“Too right,” it was Chairperson again; this may be a Class 10 meeting, but he was feeling spotlight-deprived “This principle holds with everyone, but with 16-year-olds, the spiritual gall if you like, stands open – a sensitive template, waiting for life to impress its irrevocable laws into it. Laws which govern, to a large degree, its function for life.
That’s why aggression/compassion curriculum considerations are so important in this year. Give the boys only heartless macho stuff, and they might find it hard to muster the real courage to feel compassion in later life. With girls, it is the opposite – if we don’t bring to their awareness the bitter-bile facts of life, they may become vulnerable – emotionally helpless to themselves, and unable to protect others.
Like the mother of the boy who committed suicide in the film Dead Poet’s Society – you haven’t see it? Anyway this woman…”
“Why do we have to site through your films every meeting?” complained Kindergarten “No-one ever asks me to contribute, so cop this!” her attitude had taken a decidedly Martian turn “The corresponding Mars age in infants is three – in an unconscious way, these little pets are developing both aggressive and compassionate tendencies.
If you consider the Mars/speech faculty in Man to be a future aspect, one sees it in the portrayal of the Maitreya Buddha, the one with the hand cupped beautifully around the larynx. The 3-year-old learns to speak, good speech we hope. The primary equivalent is the 9-year-old, the next Mars year. These children learn beautiful speech. And finally our 16-year-olds learn right speech. Indeed we’re assured by the great spiritual teachers, that speech will replace the genitals as a reproductive organ.”
“I can’t say I’m looking forward to that.” Cooed Advocate; and the way Athletic looked round with interest, one could only buy say he agreed. His concentration lapse was arrested by Prim; she placed her empty orange glass on the table.
“Do they have Tae Kwon Do classes for middle-aged ladies?” she said.