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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…
NO COMA IN THE KALPA
Time/Speed/ Distance – Class 3 – Middle Lesson
The greatest formal time span in the world is the Hindu ‘Kala’; a mighty stretch of 4320,000,000 years! Ancient Indians sure knew their time – even Rudolf Steiner derives his complex time/evolution concepts from this arcane wisdom source, using many Sanskrit terms, like Manvantara, to describe the indescribable.
Ancient India, the 1st of the post-Atlantean Civilizations, was a Cancer culture; with that sign rising, for 2160 years, in the vernal equinox. Cancer of course is, in any astrological understanding, the House of the Moon.
So India was, and in remnant form still is, a Moon culture. What has this to do with the seemingly illimitable kalpa? A lot actually; ‘million’, in numerological terms, means ‘many’ or ‘divers’, not the literal and largely abstract sum we ascribe to it. After all, if one counts coins, it would take over 14, 24-hour days to count to one million. What can simple folk like us make of that? No, the kalpa is 4320 years – and a lot else besides.
The Moon reigns over the tides of the planet, as well as over most other liquid phenomena. In a microcosmic reflection, it is the nourisher of the tides of Man as well – that of the bloodstream. The woman’s blood-Moon cycle is a kind of ‘springtide’, one which occurs every 28 days, the ‘period’ of the 4 Moon phases.
But there is an even smaller blood ebb and flow, expressed through the pulse itself. It is agreed by physiologists that there are 72 pulse beats per minute in the normal (male) adult – and in 60 minutes? 4320…well, well, a kalpa!
There are 6 hours in every tide movement – 360 minutes; so how many pulse beats do we tick over during one moon/tide cycle? 4320 x 6 = 25,920 pulses. This is the most important number in all time reckoning. It is the figure arrived at when the 12 signs of the Zodiac (this is an astronomical as well as astrological fact) precede through the 12 vernal equinoxes. Actually the astronomers come up with a slightly higher number, due to their error in thinking day-lengths are immutable, that there has always been 365 ¼ days in a year – more of this later.
Say Virgo is rising in September 21, the Spring Equinox, in the Southern Hemisphere today (which it is, making we down-unders a Civilization of the Virgin!), it will gradually give way to Leo after some 2160 years (since 1413); then Cancer, Gemini and so on – right round to Virgo again, in 12 x 2160 = 25,920 years.
This is called the Platonic Year, in recognition of the Greeks who revealed this mystery knowledge to we simple souls. There is a relationship between moon-inspired pulse-beats, and that rhythm of the sun itself, the breath. The pulse-to-breath ratio is 72 : 18, or 1 in 4, number of the earth – or incarnation.
These two work, as Rudolf Steiner describes, in perfect cooperation in the Lion (most cats actually), providing a kind of ‘life’ number perfection. The ideal Man, a dual Being of Apollo and Diana, or sun-moon Being, would have this same perfection. S/he would have exactly 72 pulse beats, syncopating with 18 breaths per minutes. Life – excitement, exertion, etc. – determines that we are never ‘perfect’ – in the physical sense at least!
18 breaths per minute is the nominal figure for the adult male when averaging the breath rate. So how many breaths in an hour? 18 x 60 = 1080. And in a day? 1080 x 24 = 25,920 breaths per day! When dealing in cosmic or human rhythms, you just can’t escape that magic number. Man and the heavens come together in the span of a lifetime; again using the nominal figure of 360 days in a year. Over the great length of a Platonic Year, there are periods when the single year is both longer and shorter than at present – 360 is the average. Our own 365 ¼ day year is on the longer side. Even paleontology and modern astronomical physics confirm this rubber-day phenomenon.
So how may days in the average human lifetime of 72 years – 360 x 72 = 25,920! One might adduce that years lived beyond this cosmically designed life-span are bonusses. Few people are as effective in their post-72 periods as they are before.
There are 6, 12-year cycles or revolutions of the zodiac in a person’s life (6 x 12 = 72)’ 25,920 sun days divided by 6 = 4320 days in a 12-year zodiacal cycle – a (moon) kalpa again! This concept of revolution, or ‘cyclical’ time, is indeed of Eastern – especially Indian – origin. It presupposes that ‘what goes around comes around’; that nothing ever really changes on the great Wheel of Dharma. In short, humankind lives in the ever-recurring past forever. No wonder they’ve developed acceptance to an art form!
A future orientation is the emphasis on the Linear Time concepts of the West; yes, there was a largely irrelevant past, and most decidedly, yes, there will definitely be a future. But the present? It doesn’t exist; after all, the moment one has even uttered the idea it is already past. The present is an abstraction.
Spiritual Science provides human consciousness with a 3rd Time concept, not the circle or the line, but the Progressive Spiral. Yes we do recapitulate the past – here it comes again in the form of karma; the great cycles of the East. However it is never the same, being merely a foundation of experience upon which to build the new – the present.
This new creation is perceived as continuing on the upward-soaring, logarithmic spiral; the same traveled by all the bodies of the Solar System – we learn from the past, to create the present, to prepare the future.
Somehow we should weave the separate but complementary concepts of cyclic, linear and spiral time into a 3-week Numeracy middle lesson on Time (and velocity) called, perhaps, What Time? What Speed? This is best programmed in the Problem Solving, or ‘thinking’ strand of the numeracy stream. As such, with all the interesting time/speed phenomena presented, there should be a strong ‘sum’ component.
For instance, when discussing the flying speed, distance covered, and travel time of migrating Moon birds: If the birds left Bass Strait on Dec. 21, and arrived at the Aleutian Islands on June 21 – a distance of 20,000 kilometers; what is their average flying speed? These ‘problems’ (‘There are no problems, only solutions.’ – John Lennon!) can be re-configured, with different times, distance and speed used.
The importance of linking calculation to content is vital in the first sum the children do; after that, there is a sub-conscious assumption, even if using only bare figures, that we are dealing with something real.
The two groups of inspiring Beings who work in cooperation in a time/movement lesson are from the 3rd and 2nd Hierarchies. Again this is a moon-sun partnership. And Archai – a generic term for ‘numbers’ in Ancient Greece – are the 1st ranking of the 3rd Hierarchy. They are known as the Time Lords, overseeing as they do the unrolling of the great time carpet through the ages. It is they who supervise the ‘vernal rising; et al.
Speed, or Movement, is under the dominion of the Dynamis, higher solar Beings, 2nd ranking of the 2ndHierarchy. These Spirits of Motion as they’re called, are the informing Spirits (albeit vicariously) of all aspects of movement in general, and speed/acceleration in particular. Knowledge of the nature of these 2 members of the Celestial Choir, the Archai and Dynamis, will add an unspoken spiritual dimension to a Time-Movement lesson.
An obvious accessory to the 3-week unit will be a calendar, drawn up by the children – or copied in their workbooks. This contains all the important cosmic information, like solstices and so on; as well as that which is relevant to the class – excursions – or the child – birthdays! Many sums can be built around this time chart, like: How many school days to the end of term? (They have to subtract weekends, etc.)
Time can also refer to the child’s own body; hair grows at about 1 centimeter a month: How long did it take Mary’s hair to reach its present 40-centimeter length? (Mary will love this one!)
Again in the spirit of identifying the child with the subject, we have bodily activity: How long does it take John to run 1 revolution (a good term) of the building? – or read a set passage? – or thread 100 beads? “How many beads per minute if he takes 5 minutes …?” All these and more provide grist to the (revolutionary) mill in the form of problems posed.
They can also time their walking, trotting, and running speeds – and combinations of same. Step up the pace with bikes and roller blades: If Sally skated 100 meters in 15 seconds, how long would it take her to skate 5 kilometers? This leads into other transport phenomena, like trains and planes. Even other concepts, like the speed of light (maximum speed); and that of sound (variable) are valuable adjuncts to this lesson.
Not only the yar, but the school day, can be a content resource for problem-solving; the ideal division of the day accords to the sexagesimal system, one based on 60, with its factors and multiples. A main lesson is 120 minutes; a middle or black, 90 – usually.
Lunch is 1 hours, no more, no less – and playtime 30 minutes. All these are either multiples or factors of 60. Working and living within this divinely-ordained timeframe aligns one with the Time Lords themselves – not in opposition to them, as say, a 50 minute lunch break would. 50 brings them under the mantle of the Sirius/Isis mysteries – the male/female duality!
While on Time, don’t forget to exploit the clock as a ready-made calculation device; with its starry secrets contained in: Hub – the earth, our standpoint; Big Hand, the planetary orbits around the sun; Little Hand – the sun, as it travels through the 12-number zodiac. This horological mystery was first bequeathed to mankind by the Ancient Persians, a civilization of Chronology – ‘time-word’. What a happy melding of content and soul, as 9-year-olds are unconsciously reliving their Persian evolution.
Creative homework can bring into the classroom unlikely and often bizarre material – ‘My Dad took 12 minutes to milk the cow, which gave 6 liters; so she gave about ½ a liter per minute.’ – ‘Our baby, after being laid in her cradle, averages 12 minutes to go to sleep – but 2 hours in an ordinary cot!’
Snail races are fun, with the scale of ‘slide times’ being faithfully recorded. The starting line for these is of course the center of a circle, due to the contrary mollusks refusing to travel in a straight line! This leads us to the marvelous natural world, animals especially. The word means ‘to animate’, or move.
A midge can beat its tiny wings 133,000 times per minute (a significant ‘sun’ number). The slowest flowering plant takes 150 years to produce a bloom – then dies! The fastest and slowest animals always interest 9-year-olds, providing good subjects for problem-solving. The fastest and slowest land animals are the Cheetah and Sloth respectively; draw them to compare their God-given kinetic design.
From real animals, one can lead into those of story and fable – sums on the Tortoise and Hare are fun, as are those from human legend; like Puck’s claim to be able to fly around the world in 40 minutes. Then there’s Phineas Foggs’ 80-day effort in his hot-air balloon. These relative figures give the children a sense of scale in relation to the planet they tread.
The Greeks of course get their look-in with the tale of the 26-mile Marathon runner. This leads naturally over to human athletic prowess, and other time/speed achievements. The human Time world can also be ‘calculated’ form the standpoint of longevity; the oldest person, a Japanese man, being 117 (born and died on the same date!). The oldest Egyptian mummy is 4500 years – the other ‘mummy’, the child-loving kind, has a birth record of a mere 57 years. A family ‘time-line’, form grandad to new-born bub, again brings the child into focus.
A pinboard can be kept to display newspaper and magazine clippings about time and speed that the children are encouraged to search for; such as the Solar Car Race – or an archeological discovery; like the Bronze Age corpse found in new-perfect condition in a glacier. How many 72-year lifetimes since he was snap-frozen to today? This helps them discriminate – or ‘hansa’, a more subtle Sanskrit word – between the mass of irrelevant, and salient, information available to them.
Class 3 children should be encouraged often to look to the outer world to enhance and inform their skill-development. How fascinating to hear of a person who was in a coma for 37 years – and do sums on it. At least they didn’t sleep in vain!
This approach will prevent the 12-year ‘coma’ many children suffer called the ‘school years’ – especially in that universally disliked subject, maths. What a waste if this 12 years – this zodiacal cycle – is a kind of constellation of indifference. It does not have to be this way; not if, as teachers, we keep our practical feet on the earth, and our inspirational eyes on the heavens …heavens? 12 years? Good heavens, the 12 school years is 360 x 12, or 4320 days – A Kalpa!! Who’d have thought!?