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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…
JUAN SEBASTIAN WHO?!
Maritime Science – Class 11 – Middle Lesson
Juan Sebastian del Cano, that’s who. This Spanish mariner should be one of the most famous names in history, but no-one has ever heard of him. He was the first ship’s master to circumnavigate the globe. Oh, I know everyone says it was the Portuguese captain (sailing from Spain), Ferdinand Magellan; but he didn’t actually make it – so why should he get all the credit? In the typical stupidity and arrogance of European Christians of yesteryear (and this year in many cases!), when Magellan reached the Philippines after crossing the Pacific (which he named), one of the greatest ocean epics of all time – for which he deserves enormous credit – he attempted to convert the natives to his totally alien persuasion. So they very sensibly killed him!
I guess in the long run Magellan’s evangelizing (propaganda?) was a success, as today the Philippines is a stanchly Catholic nation. Anyway, after this commander’s demise, the doughty del Cano sailed his stout little vessel, the aptly named Vittoria, home to Spain. Although richly loaded with spices, he returned with only 18 of the original 239 souls who triumphantly embarked from Spain three year earlier, in 1500. Only in this exposition does del Cano receive the credit he so richly deserves!
As a scientist, the world’s first circumnavigator was astounded not so much by his stupendous achievement, but by the fact that his impeccable kept ship’s log was a whole day out on this return! So humanity discovered the mystery of the International Date Line. The most important aspect of this story is not to correct historical distortions, but to acknowledge the first ocean-going trade. Even though there are constant references to historic, social and other area in presenting this Maritime Science unit, it is the function, the science indeed, which must maintain priority.
This also goes for the scientific description of world oceans, an area definitively dealt with in the Hydrosphere unit in Class 9. As well, the living world of the marine environment is covered in Marine Biologyin Class 10 (see both units in my book A Spiritual Science). This lesson rather focuses on humankind’s Useof the sea.
Of the four middle lesson streams, Maritime Science is programmed in the 4th, the Industrial (hence the functional emphasis. This calls on, and informs, the Physical Body in the 4-fold middles (Professions-Ego, Cultural-Astral, Service-Etheric). There are three Industrial strands, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Industries. These relate to will, feeling and thinking in the same order.
Maritime Science is a Primary Industry study par excellence, though not all aspects covered in this interesting 3-week unit would nominally be ‘primary’ industry, as the term is understood – like tourism. However mining, as in offshore oil and gas, certainly would.
There have been three Primary Industry units preceding this one: Timber Technology Class 8 (see La Pleroma; Mining Industry Class 9; Agricultural Science Class 10 (both in A spiritual Science; and Energy will follow in Class 12 (see later in this book).
Even though Magellan – sorry, del Cano, brought the first truly global awakening to humanity in the 16thCentury, it was not until James Cook colored in all the big spaces on the world map in the late 18th Century that we knew the anatomy of the whole planetary Being – all its seven seas and seven continents. The Age of Discovery, which effectively ended with Cook, was the atrium for the comprehensive exploitation of world oceans later in the 19th Century. At last global ocean consciousness was the soul property of all mankind.
The 19th Century is also the period 17-year-olds are recapitulating in their own development. One important event that took place in this time was the demise of wooden sailing ships, and the advent of steel stream vessels. This was a dad day for those of a romantic disposition, but one which provided phenomenal opportunity for materialists – or cargo cultists, to employ a more maritimely apt term.
But that’s okay, as Rudolf Steiner tells us in his 12 Philosophical Points of View, that Materialism is ascribed to Cancer – The Crab is also the informing and inspiring sign, in the 12 Subject Zodiac, of Science! Whatever, 19th Century events and advances in scientific (and other, like social) awareness strikes a special chord in the souls of 17-year-olds – resonating with their shift from the idealistic to the empirical.
So how did mankind reach this stage? An overview of the history of Maritime Science provides a strong pedestal upon which to build today’s magnificent MS edifice. We might even time-travel right back to a period the Greeks call Panthallasa (‘all ocean’); an epoch Spiritual Science refers to as Lemuria. Here the whole world was ocean; Maritime Science would certainly be in its element (water!) there. In spite of Panthallasa-Lemuria having no practical applications to today’s study, the Laws determining and constraining Maritime Science were laid down here. Rudolf Steiner predicted that in the far distant future (‘New Jupiter’), we will once more dwell in a softer, watery world.
Following Lemuria we have Atlantis. This next ‘lost continent’ is much better known, not the least due to its Maritime Science implications. Here we have the first evolutionary reference – albeit mythical – to boats; which Donovan described in his wonderful song, Hail Atlantis.
Donovan sings of “… Antediluvian kings with their painted sails”. The whore who sits on the waters is one epithet of the Land in the West; referring not necessarily to the wanton conduct of Atlantean citizens, but to its trading status – acceptable credentials for our study indeed!
Noah was an Atlantean, a boatbuilder, and a sailor; his qualifications being in animal transportation. Noah’s Oriental equivalent, Manu, carried rather seeds and plants to a new less soggy world in the high Himalayas. Both launched our current ‘Aryan’ epoch from boats.
The Egyptians and Phoenicians were sea-going, as were their Eastern counterparts, the Han Chinese. There is convincing evidence that giant Egyptian reed boats coast-hugged their way around the north Indian Ocean all the way to Australia. Quite a few chert, and even the odd gold, scarabs have been dug up from beneath eons of sediments in various locations along our east coast. So also have carved heads of Mithras and Demeter, of a style commonly imported to Egypt in the early 1st Millennium BC.
Were their equivalents in the East, the 3rd Civilization Chinese, here as well? China has a long, long sailing tradition, with Cathay-inspired Buddhist symbols turning up in Mayan civilization as early as the 5th Century. However their maritime achievements peaked in the 13th Century with the great Treasure Ships of Zeng He.
The statistics of these giant ships, all but obliterated from memory, is staggering. They were 120 meters long (Columbus’s Sana Maria was a tiny 45 meters!) with nine masts hoisting massive red silk sails. They were responsible for the settling of South-East Asia by the Chinese, and even visited East Africa – why not Australia? After all, a carved stone head of the goddess Shao Lin – Protectress of Mariners! – was found in 1980 in a beachfront hillside deposit on the New South Wales south coast!
The Greeks and Romans were more than adequate mariners, but only in the curiously-named “middle earth” sea, the Mediterranean. We leap-frog a millennium or so to the famous, and infamous, Danes – direct inheritors of Atlantean culture according to Steiner. This could account for the sublime subtlety of design of a Viking ship, an evocation of the rhythms of Mother Ocean herself. These were true ocean-going vessels, bearing Eric the Red and other Nordic adventurers back over the home ocean to briefly colonize – terrorize? – far-off North America.
The Viking equivalent in the Eastern Hemisphere were the Polynesians, navigators and boat-builders supreme. These two are said to have their ancient origins in Old Atlantis; as indirectly demonstrated by Thor Heyerdahl’s epic Kon Tiki voyage west across the Pacific from South America. West is the Ego direction on the esoteric global compass; both World and Man Ego incarnated in the mineralizing of Atlantis.
The Portuguese, in the ilk of Magellan, Diaz and Vasco da Gama, were the next Europeans to venture out into the deep blue sea. Their superiority over the Nordic adventurers was one of size over style; the early Caravelles may have been wallowers, but they could carry a lot of people, and a large tonnage of plunder, er, cargo.
This 15th Century Age of Discovery being contemporaneous with the genesis of the Consciousness Soul was not accidental. The “Spiritual Soul” could only manifest its destiny in a global context. In fact 600 years later we’re still only glimpsing its munificent potential; though we are becoming more global than national with each passing decade.
I’m writing this on the morning after the most global event in history, the celebration of the New Century-Millennium. This was truly Michaelian; based as it was on culture, Catholicism and cooperation. The whole of humanity focused on the path of the Sun through the entire 24-hour day. Michael is the Sun Archangel after all! It is the best possible omen for the 3rd Millennium, this New Age of Abraham, an expression of spiritual science rather than 2nd Millennium Mosaic Age natural science.
A Maritime Science story based more on the spiritual than the scientific is the disappearance of the fleet of the Knights Templar. In the early 14th Century, the Inquisition was launched; its aim, by the Catholic Church, to wrest power and influence from the troublesome sect, the Hospitaller Temple Knights.
When the Templars got wind of the impending purge, they loaded all transportable wealth on their large fleet (they owned most of the trading vessels in Europe) and sailed off into the western mist to an agreed but secret destination.
The most likely haven of this Treasure armada is thought to be Scotland. Where the new Scottish Rites Freemasonry took root. The Knights purportedly sunk (remodeled?) the ships; and with the vast wealth, established an invincible power center upon which Britain’s subsequent world influence was built – and by extension, the Masonic-inspired global power of the English-speaking peoples to this day!
From the early Portuguese initiatives, under the fluttering pennant of that great maritime initiate, Henry the Navigator, the Spirit of the Sea moved the souls of navigators from Holland, Spain and France. Finally Britannia ruled the waves – an empire upon which ‘the sun never set’.
From there we take up the story in Australia. This country was launched, in the sense of white occupation, in the billowing sails of many inspired mariners – most being Adepts of the Maritime Lodge of the Freemasons! But to return to the pragmatic, the First Fleet’s main mission was as convict transportation – the Sirius was really a glorified long-distance ferry! History tells us however that it was Dutch ship that first brought Europeans to our ‘fatal shore’.
The first recorded visitation to the Portuguese-named Terra Australis del Spirito Santo (‘Southern Land of the Holy Spirit!’) was the Dutch ship Dyfkyen, meaning ‘little dove’ – a prophesy of peace in a trouble world one hopes. Australia has certainly lived up to this promise of peace, being the most strife-free of all six inhabited continents – a Land of Little Doves indeed! It’s east coast is blessed by the also well-named South Pacific – Ocean of Peace. The early Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese discoverers were really only in search of riches of one kind or another. ‘Trade’ is too kind a word for their nefarious pursuits; early Europeans regarded any foreign lands they happened upon, no matter how civilized, as ripe for plunder.
The Spice Islands north of Australia were thought to be among the richest of the rich. From this region, prior to European exploitation, Maccassan ocean-going flotillas regularly visited our golden shores. A teak forest is evidence to this day of this Asian-Australian contact; planted for mast replacement as it was. The puzzle is, why didn’t the Aboriginal tribes, thought to be hospitable, fail to absorb any Malay cultural or even technical influences over these centuries of visitation?
While on visitations; a class excursion to a Maritime Museum, such as exists in Sydney, is better than a thousand words of chalk and talk. Then again my class did enjoy their trip out on an ocean-going tug, per favor of a student’s father. They loved their carefree yachting days as well!
Australia’s maritime history fairly clips along with the journeys of the fable wool clippers – which, as mentioned earlier, handed over the cargo transport them to steam and steel.
This segues to another dramatic chapter in Australia’s sea-going saga; the birth of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Here a Boy’s Own overview might touch on our greatest naval triumphs and disasters. The sinking of HMAS Sydney by the German cruiser Kormoran in the Indian Ocean in World War II resulted in the loss of all hands.
The Centaur, a hospital ship, was sunk off the aptly-named Point Danger (Tweed Heads, NSW) by a Japanese submarine. This was one of dozens of tonnage lost along the east coast of Australia over the five years of the Pacific campaign – horror statistics which might surprise some of your students.
So we have military marine as a justified inclusion in our study. With any of these issues, the teacher should try and exploit current events. At the time of writing, this would be the controversy over our clamorous Collins Class submarines. These would have to be the most expensive ‘silence’ we’ve ever built for the ‘Silent Service’! It does seem an anomaly that this country can (purportedly) build one of the most advanced technological products on earth, a modern submarine, but recoils from making its own television set. – all of which are imported!
A Maritime Science unit must consider the elements, either natural or man-made, which have to be present so that men and women can ‘go down to the sea again’. One of these is Ports: Sydney Harbor, the finest natural anchorage on earth, can be compared with, say, Palestine.
One of the most optimistic symbols of new nationhood is the construction of an independent-of-Israel Palestinian port. This theoretically provided direct sea access to the entire globe. A land-locked country is seriously handicapped in its prosperity potential.
In Australia, our many fine ports and harbors are used mostly for international traffic. In former times, boats carrying everything from coal to coconuts plied our 16,000-kilometer coastline. Today rail and road transport have replaced this more leisured era.
As a child in Coffs Harbor, I would swim beneath a working jetty, with tall cranes loading timber, bananas and whatnot onto small coastal freighters. Today only tourists stroll along its aging planking. During a cyclone in the early 1950s, the coal-carrier Bangalow was actually washed upon on the beach. To refloat her, they had to empty her holds – small pieces of coat can still be found along Jetty beach to this day, half a century later. Sorry about the personal discursion, but a good teacher will travel the exciting sea roads of their own experience to bring interest – hence Life – to the lesson.
To create order from the apparent chaos of content in a Maritime Science unit, one could divide the marine industry into six sections. The first is probably Fishing. By the time you read this, the major ocean fish stocks may be effectively exhausted; the result of greed, brutality and arrogant stupidity. Commercial fishing is the most inhuman and cruel industry on the planet. An emphasis rather on fish farming would shine a beacon of hope into the future I refuse to recommend morally burdening our young with descriptions of heroic and romantic tuna boats braving wild seas to bring home food for our tables. Seafood can be provided by so many more sensible and ethical means.
An example might be that which was initiated on a small Indonesian (currently among the worst of the rappers of the sea) island. The locals – under the guidance of an Australian conservationist I’m happy to say! – had harvested the resident population of tiny seahorses to near extinction – this for the rapacious Chinese market for yet again some obscure, obscene medicinal use. The demise of the seahorses would eventually lead to the islanders’ own commercial extinction.
So they created a large marine reserve, where no seahorses were to be touched. This of course was achieved in the face of the usual trenchant, blind opposition. The result was that seahorse stocked gradually recovered, and as they could multiply unhindered, man being their main predator, their numbers migrated right around the island’s coral lagoons.
Other areas of fishing are whaling, seaweed harvesting, and the whole gamut of invertebrates, from scallops to prawns to krill (all liberal uses of the term fishing). None of this is to be taken as an endorsement of killing sentient beings. Quite the contrary actually, but it is a necessary study area, as fishing, in all its forms, is one of the world’s major primary industries. As such, we are obligated to inform our students of its fundamentals. A Spiritual Soul outcome however would require that man somehow manages to enrich life in the oceans, rather than deplete it.
Section 2 Mining: The riches of the sea, in the inanimate sense, have barely been touched – oil and gas being the glaring exceptions. The seabed contains not only large deposits of various useful sediments, like sand, diatomaceous earth, gravel and lime, but an Aladdin’s cave of precious metals and minerals. As a mining exploration expert said recently “They dig down two kilometers through solid rock to access a gold ore body on land; it’s a lot easier to go through two kilometers of water, and the veins are ten times richer!” Again environmental concerns relating to ocean mining should be discussed Better still, have an expert, such as the above, come in and speak to the class – or visit their work place.
Salvage could be included in ‘Mining’; this is usually of sunken ships or their contents. 17-year-olds love tales of modern treasure hunting, where gold or fabulous relics can turn an adventure holiday into a bonanza – and even a career. The recent super-popular film Titanic was based on ocean salvage. In this spirit, my class, most of them accomplished divers from our Class 10 Scuba course, did some wreck diving. Some of them even took advantage of a practical unit of this lesson to attain their boat driving licenses. This conformed with my policy that the more qualifications (of the worldly rather than academic kind) we sent the students out on their path of life with, the better. Oh, I passed my boat license test as well! And while on integrative education, in our Technical Drawing 3-week block lesson, we chose to draw boats.
Section 3 Trade and Transport: This old perennial can be divided into people and cargo. The first can be personal ocean-going transport, like blue-water yachting; or it can be mass conveyancing, such as ferries – those plying to and from Tasmania being an example. The transport of cargo by sea is a huge industry, from bulk oil carriers to container ships. My wife Susan and I recently traveled for six weeks around Europe and back to Australia on a giant container ship. Better than a cruise liner any day, and the quarters surprisingly much more luxurious! It sure beat the shorter but more grueling 747 alternative. More personal anecdotes, yes?
Section 4 Sport and Recreation: This hardly sounds like science, but the skills and technology underwriting, for example, ocean yacht racing, are formidable.
Tourism is the mother of the sport & rec. child. This vibrant industry is usually much more prosperous with an ocean component that for land-locked locations. Included are cruises, whale-watching, visits to reefs and islands, and all kinds of ‘mucking about in boats’.
In general, this unit should constrain itself to salt water, particularly of the oceanic variety, rather than lakes and inland seas. It should also not really venture beyond the breaker line; so swimming and surfing is probably not appropriate. What about long-distance swimming? Our own world champion, Susie Moroni, is notable; ocean-going by definition, but hardly constituting an industry!
Section 5 Defense: This was mentioned earlier, but the science of defending Australia’s endless and largely uninhabited coastline, in our case by the R.A.N., should not be neglected. However this is covered in depth, so to speak, in Class 12 Military Science unit. We may have difficulty defending our coast, but the same feature makes it devilishly difficult for our enemies to mount a blockage – we can always escape somewhere along a 16,000 kilometer, 360° ocean-washed perimeter!
Section 6 Discovery: this last is probably the most relevant for a Maritime Science unit, because it is the most purely scientific. Discovery includes research, mapping, and exploration. James Cook’s global maritime forays were essentially scientific, hence good study material.
Most of the world’s ocean floors remain a mystery, – ripe for a new age of exploration. There are immeasurable new submarine lands to discover, and possibly exploit. These are sure to be inhabited by many, so far unknown, cryptic and bizarre habitués.
Ocean mapping is a fascinating and high-tech industry, as is volcanology and other geological pursuits. Another great Discovery role model, from the modern era this time, was the recently sadly departed Jacques Cousteau. He raised global awareness of the desperate conservation imperatives for embattled Mother Mare. Even though this Maritime Science meddle lesson is essentially about the practical oceanic needs of mankind, from our first voyage under ‘painted sails’, the need to respect and protect our great oceans must infuse all content.
Yet there is an even higher principle involved, that of spiritual replenishment. Rudolf Steiner spoke of the sea as a realm of Imagination (mountains of Inspiration). By extension we can see how vital this soul-embracing nature force for the unfolding of the coming psychic faculty – Imaginative Cognition – thinking in pictures – Spirit Self!
Even though Steiner chose to be born, live and work in the embrace of inspirational alps; his most moving Imaginative experiences occurred while visiting wild coastlines, such as Wales. It is for this reason that Susan and I have chosen to reside in the aptly named Ocean Shores.
My good wife and I do however, as an inverse of Steiner’s peregrinations, frequently visit nearby mountains! As we sit on our verandah watching the white combers roll endlessly in, and marvel at the mood changes of the beautiful South Pacific every hour of every day, we feel our souls take wings. They fly up and over the horizon, to nephthean heights where Imagination sours beyond mere fantasy, to a realm of ocean-borne Spiritual Reality itself.
A well-taught Maritime Science unit can prepare Class 11 students for this fabulous Imaginative Cognition outcome. Through Juan Sebastian del Cano had the perseverance to make it right around the world in a leaky boat, it was Magellan who had the Imagination in the first place. This was a mariner’s vision, as only those in love with, and committed to, the sea can truly behold. I guess that’s why he gets all the credit! Bon Voyage.
Below: Henry the Navigator ponders a more
modern form of transport than the caravels
he holds. Here he leads his doughty colonizers
to new worlds on this memorial in Lisbon.