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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…
MUSE OF DELINQUENCE – CLASS 12
Calliope, the 9th and ‘head’ Muse, took the Eurythmy gesture for knowledge, and slowly left the stage – the Class 12 end-of-year, end-of-school performance was ended! The beautiful hall held the sacred silence, as did the audience. But gradually a few self-conscious shuffles and coughs signaled the return of the lower realities.
With that last moving gesture, the students of Class 12 stepped out into the world. A sense of sadness, mingled with relief and spiced with optimism, moved the careworn heart of the Class 12 Guardian, known affectionately as Chairperson, as he sat alone, reflecting on how life would be without those frustrating, scintillating, vulnerable, lovable, intelligent, belligerent, beautiful, dutiful young people.
His pensive mood hung over him like a lowering cumulus even half an hour later, as he sat sipping tea in the staff lounge. His colleagues were assembled for this last meeting of the year – and the topic was to be Class 12.
“I see Eurythmy has been a very strong feature of the work this year.” Opened Bee Man, Guardian of Class 8 “Er, is there any honey for the tea? Thanks – and the work with the Nine Greek Muses seems appropriate with 18-year-olds – 1+8=9. Nine, being a number often associated with magic, makes one aware that the consummate Eurythmy those students performed is a kind of white magic. With an art-form so sublime, it does seem possible to transform the souls of those privileged to be there – and even perhaps the earth’s sensitive litmus, the Ethers.”
“I agree,” agreed Chairperson cheering up just a little “nine is the number of Man, and the heavens – there is always a spirit of wholeness or unity in 9, the highest single-number in Cosmic Numerology. Unity, or holism, is the power we wished the students to experience in their last year of school life.”
Advocate, the Class 11 Guardian, smoothed her dress over her knees and looked up, her dark eyes misty “I’ve enjoyed teaching your class in my specialist areas this year; one really does stand among equals with 18-year-olds – most of the time anyway! The Ego forces are very close now, although they won’t be fully incarnate till 21. Yet the role of independent adult has arrived; it is a sobering thought, and one which holds secret fears for them – some founded, some not.
The main area of anxiety of course is employment; with our universal curriculum, and broad work-experience policy, we have tried to bring them face-to-face with the ‘real world’; attempting to dispel the fear of unemployment, showing it to be an option only for those who want it – or those so patently unprepared by their education as to be unemployable.”
Chairperson set a distant plover caress the night-air silence for a few moments before speaking “I guess we’ve done everything possible on that level for them. The little ceremony this afternoon was nice wasn’t it? How touching my children – sorry, young adults – looked circled by the kindergarten children – the first will be last…oh dear, sniffle…”
The somewhat dissembled Guardian collected himself and continued “They were, sniff, formally presented with their Equivalent Higher School Certificates; then we gave them their Report Folders, weighty tomes they were too! And then they displayed, or spoke about, their Major Works; weren’t some of them impressive? No, I haven’t any worries about them finding employment, self-employment even. Of course some of the students will opt for higher education. In fact one or two are going to study for the H.S.C. in college next year in view of going to university. Of course the school will continue to offer the students tutoring facilities and work space.” Chairperson was feeling much better now, so he helped himself to the lamingtons Class 2 had made for the meeting.
Prim, their teacher, looked thoughtful “I remember when I was 18, I felt that I had really arrived, I was a citizen of the 20th Century at last. So much of our curriculum is devoted to bringing the pupil/student through the evolution of consciousness from Ancient Atlantis in Class 1, to the Greek civilization in 5the Class, and so on. With Class 12, the path ends – they are here, now. Our history, literature art and so forth taught in Class 12 are truly 20th Century.
I felt at 18 that I was in a psychic tug-o-war; a struggle between the future and the past. It is critical for this age to direct their gaze to the future; in fact in trying to define this sensation, I have found that it is 3-fold. The soul environment in Class 12 in particular, and Mankind in general, is populated by two groups of opposing Beings; Beings engaged in timeless battle for our 3-fold soul.
The first group, the Spirits of Retardation, wish to drag us back to earlier social/spiritual forms; the second, the Spirits of Progress, support the individual in his onward journey. Both groups of Beings are merely the ‘hosts’ of much higher spiritual entities.
The Spirits of Retardation which attack the Thinking of our young people, are those which cling to the concepts of the 19th Century. Concepts which were in essence correct under a Gabriellic dispensation, prior to 1879. We now live under the cultural/spiritual benevolence of the Archangel Michael. These century-old ideas form the doctrine of Materialism – Charles Darwin’s work is a classic example. Materialism is the opponent of living Thought.
20th Century Thinking still has a large part of the 19th Century in its brain set. In education this expresses through competition, and its henchman, exams; these regard Man as a two-legged Pavlov’s dog…”
“Quite so,” said Chairperson hurriedly, in an attempt to regain control of his agenda “another realm of almost frantic S.O. R. activity…”
“Soar?” “Sore?” “Saw?”
“Spirits of Retardation – I don’t mind the odd acronym…is in the difficulty in Western humanity of moving from the Greco-Roman age, to our present Anglo/Teutonic one. This inability attacks the Feeling life – especially of our 18-year-olds. We must help them to discriminate between social institutions created under an Intellectual Soul dispensation – which ended its useful life 700 years ago, and that of today – the Spiritual Soul.
A new morality must enter into political and social life if these things are not going to desiccate and de-sensitize the heart, or Feeling forces of Man. We still use the patently unjust judicial system of Ancient Rome, and our political institutions are adversarial rather than that of the new order, co-operative.
Spirits of Retardation attend every sitting of government and court in the land, creating ‘arena’, or gladiatorial mentality. They even inspired Linnaeus to use a dead Intellectual Soul language, Latin, to classify the natural world – with predictable mortifying consequences for both nature and the feeling life of those who study her.
The outcome of dragging a former era into the present is Intellectualism – this is the implacable opponent of our Feeling life.”
Academic, the Class 7 Teacher, looked up through his metal-rimmed spectacles, he has been browsing through a book, apparently oblivious to the discussion – not so “The Spirits of Retardation reach back even further,” he said ominously “to the first half of this planet’s incarnation in fact, The Mars Earth; a period manifesting what might be called a ‘vengeful’ disposition. War was noble, punishment was meted out with malice, and unspeakable cruelty was a part of everyday life. The 10 Commandments were the way to go – an eye for an eye and so on. The Post-Christ age is called the Mercury Earth – ah, what a different aegis is Mercury; the subtle, civilized god – a healer and educator, artist and scientist – god of self-hood and quicksilver intelligence – commerce even! He bears aloft the Caduceus, the twined serpents symbolizing Man’ Earth-perfected glandular system.
War is now outdated; compassion, forgiveness and understanding are the imperatives of our time. The S.O.R. – ha, ha – participate in all war-making decisions, both on an international and personal level.
All this attacks the Will, and visits upon the soul of Man the scourge of Traditionalism. It says in this book on the history of the Law, that in pre-Christian times, if your ox ‘pushed’ someone, then you would be stoned to death – together with the ox! Christ changed all this in the Sermon on the mount – not ‘an eye for an eye’, but ‘turn the other cheek’. A set of golden principles of which we are only beginning to grasp the moral implications. Traditionalism is the enemy of the Will.” Academic went back to his reading.
“Er, thank you, now we agree that Materialism, Intellectualism and Traditionalism are the sinister and faceless troika of the Spirits of Retardation – but who are the friends, who are the Spirits of Progress?”
Artistic, the Class 9 Guardian, had been modeling a tiny angel out of a piece of yellow beeswax “I think they’re the hosts of three lofty spiritual principles. To combat Materialism we must call on the co-operation of the Archangel Michael – or his hosts at least. They provide us with the clear stream of spiritual knowledge, the earthly counterpart of Cosmic Intelligence. Materialism cannot thrive in the light of Spirit.
To make a stand against Intellectualism, we must have recourse to influences from the Zodiac – down here in the Southern Hemisphere, the most influential of these are the hosts of Virgo. The sun has risen in the vernal equinox in Virgo since 1413. These forces support Man through the miracle of Movement (hence our Eurythmy play), and the inner-bracing power of Soberness – a meditation principle which strengthens the heart, combating dry-as-dust Intellectualism
To defeat the third enemy, Traditionalism, we must lift the veil on the Mystery of the etheric Christ – He who come ‘walking in the clouds’ – in the wonderful world of Nature. The old pre-Christian sclerotic forces can be dissipated by an awakening in Man of a compassion for the natural world – a sensitivity to the deeds of these particular Spirits of Progress in for example, growth and decay, and the seasons. There’s nothing ‘traditional’ about a sunset, or a foal being born.”
“What about dispelling hatred?!” interjected Chairperson, retrieving what was left of his meeting “To do that, the students have a very powerful “progress’ ally indeed – Venus! In the passing parade of the planets in high school, Venus is the serving Solar System Spirit for Class 12. Venus represents Love on Earth – Venus whose organs are the kidneys. These marvels distil poisons from the blood, and hatred from the soul – a hatred we pour back in day after day – sometimes in absurdly simple ways, like mindless disgust with the weather.
But Venus sacrifices all and forgives all – saving us from becoming virulent monsters. In the spirit of the Buddhist 8-fold Path, Venus is equivalent to the 5th “Right’, Right Vocation, a particularly apt ‘Right’ for Class 12.
Oh how we’ve tried, this year in particular, to encourage our school-leavers in their career ruminations, to consider the ‘Service’ of Man and the world. To choose a living which is constructive; not work to live, but live to work. To eschew the highly paid but non-beneficial job. To heed the call to Right Vocation. Sometimes they may not earn as much money, but they can sleep easy!”
Just then there was a tap on the door – it was ‘Calliope’, she excused herself and tiptoed in. She handed a small gift-wrapped package to Chairperson, her now erstwhile Guardian; he blushed in a stupid kind of way as she patted him on the heart – a gesture of thanks a familiarity.
“Thank you for being my Class Guardian, my teacher and my friend for the last five years.” She said with a cheeky smile “I really appreciate everything – even the times you go mad!” Then she faced the other upturned faces. “And Thanks to you all; with your help I’ve learnt to think, I’ve learnt to care, and I’ve learnt to do. As such I feel confident in my own powers to face the world. You’ve all provided me with a panoply of job-getting paraphernalia – and you have been my guides through the sometimes dark and thorny paths of adolescence – even when I thought I didn’t need guidance!
I know I haven’t been a perfect student; I’ve even been called a delinquent – not by you! The worst you could come up with was ‘spirited’ – thanks for that. But even in my most destructive and anguished hour, you never abandoned me. But the greatest gift you’ve given me and my classmates, is a word I couldn’t even say a year ago – shit this is hard – no, that’s not it, the word is Love. You’ve taught me to love work (something I never thought possible); to love my fellow imperfect human beings (most of them anyway); and I’m oh so grateful for this one, to love nature, to recognize the Spirit in creation. But above all, you’ve taught me to love myself – some call it self-esteem, confidence, whatever. It’s more than that though, you’ve revealed the eternal Spirit manifesting through me on this short but so exciting and meaningful journey through life. Oh, and I love you all, goodbye.”
‘Calliope’ turned and left. The room was in stunned silence.
Chairperson’ chubby face was as red as that perennial symbol of love, a rose. He pulled himself together and concluded the last meeting of the year, and of his career.
“Now you know why we cast her in the play as Calliope – Muse of Eloquence indeed!”