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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…
When Juan Antonio Samaranch proclaimed the city of Sydney as winner of the 2000 Olympic Games, he attracted continent-wide guffaws by pronouncing it “See-deny”. Not from me, he didn’t. Actually, old Juan was more correct – Si Deni – than when it is heard in its more common form – Sydney. In its Latin interpretation, it refers to St. Denis.
The gods move in mysterious ways; they did in the naming of Sydney, at least. This momentous event occurred on the very first Australia Day, January 26, 1788. Arthur Phillip, not a master of imagination, dropped anchor in the beautiful waterway we now call Circular Quay and named its Sydney Cove, after the British Home Secretary, Lord Sydney.
As mentioned, this word Sydney derives from Saint Denis, the martyr who converted the pagan Gauls to Christianity. Denis is in tum a form of the 1st century Athenian Dtonystus – the famous Areopagite and High Priest of Speech, he who formally described the pantheon of the Nine Choirs of Angels. He revealed this to the evangelist Paul on his visit to the Areopagus (“hill of. Ares”), behind the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens. His name is of course a derivative of Dionysus (Roman Bacchus), the god of nature and in its debauch¢ form, of wine and revelry. Equally importantly he is the God of Drama.
So, Sydney is the only city in the world named after the God of Drama, of the Performance Arts generally. How ironic, too, that one of the greatest buildings for the performance arts ever created, the Sydney Opera House, is sited at the very place, Sydney – or Dionysus! – Cove.
And while on hedonism; the first Australia Day, January 26, 1788, was celebrated with an orgy – a bacchanal! Actually, this is disputed by some scholars; however, it seems likely that a group of people consisting of rum-sodden Marines and convicts, both men and women, would have sat around in a circle on their first evening after six months at sea reading the Common Book of Prayer!
Another important event on this first Australia Day is the setting foot – hoof – for the very first time on the Australian continent of hoofed animals. This was Arthur Phillip’s own small herd of cattle, which had the privilege of grazing on the site of the now Sydney Opera House.
The present Australia Day has been known by other names over the years. In fact celebrations of the First Fleet landing in Sydney Cove did not begin until 1808, the thirtieth anniversary: which was one of its names for some time, Anniversary Day. The Famous Rum Rebellion also took place on this date. It wasn’t until 1946 that the Commonwealth and all Australian states agreed to a national celebration.
It has also been called Foundation Day, and, from an Indigenous perspective, variously Survival Day, Invasion Day, and Day of Mourning. The title Australia Day was not proclaimed till more than a century later. It is today the biggest national civic event in Australia and growing in popularity year by year. The official reason for the event is to celebrate the proclamation of British sovereignty over the east coast of Australia.
Almost every visitor to Australia’s golden shores comments on our clarity of light; or more specifically, our glorious sunshine. We are broadly recognized as being specially blessed by the Solar Spirit, both climatically and metaphysically.
This is even expressed in our oft’ derided national anthem, Advance Australia Fair: one of the truly sacred national songs. It is, as far as r know, the only anthem in the world which mentions Christ by name (of course many evoke a generalized God). The Southern Cross reference in the song also has profound Christian implications.
Advance Australia Fair was written in 1878, dawn of the Modern – Sun Spirit – Age, by a talented Scot under the pen name of Amicus. (A ‘friend’ indeed!) It became, by order of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, our national anthem in 1974. He launched the debate for an anthem to replace God Save the Queen in 1972, the same year as his historic election. The Whitlam Government was the greatest federal reform administration in Australia’s short history; one which truly manifested the principles of a compassionate liberal democracy; which is always synonymous with Christ-imbued power.
As the lyrics say, Christ as “head and cornerstone” affirms Australia as an abiding Christian country, with the “way and truth and light” and “lives a sacrifice of love” at the very heart of our social and individual values. Advance Australia Fair is a sacred paean for a sacred land indeed.
Advance Australia Fair
Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free.
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil.
Our home is girt by sea.
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts,
Of beauty rich and rare.
In history’s page let every stage,
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia Fair.
Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned in all the lands.
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share.
With courage let us all combine to
Advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia Fair.
With Christ our head and cornerstone,
We’ll build our nation’s might.
Whose way and truth and light alone
Can guide our paths aright.
Our lives a -sacrifice of love, reflect
Our Master’s care,
With faces turned to heaven above
Advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.
Australia’s national flag, with its Union Jack in the top left-hand corner, has been, like our national anthem, a magnet of controversy over the last couple of decades.
As mentioned, following a period of fiery polemics, our former national anthem, God Save the Queen (King), was replaced, in 1974. Even more furious debate has surrounded the proposed
change from our current flag to something new; something more ironically Australian, perhaps – a boxing kangaroo has been suggested! However, unlike those of the anthem, the flag barricades held firm.
The Union Jack is arguably the most beautiful – and easily recognized – flag on earth. And unlikely as it may seem, the flag is equal in sacredness to our numinous anthem – including, or especially, because of its oft’ traduced Union Jack in the top left comer. This symbol, or trinity of symbols, is in fact one of the most profound in Christian iconography.
The red cross on white ground of Wales is that of the dragon-slaying St George. As his name suggests, he is the patron saint of the Earth; or the world (“geo” in geology, geography etc. – from the Greek goddess of the Earth, Gaia). It is also the symbol of the most respected charity on earth, the Red Cross; a ‘worldly’ institution par excellence.
The white diagonal cross, or ‘saltier’, on blue ground is that of Scotland’s St Andrew, meaning “of man”. He is the patron saint of martyrs. Andrew, the ‘first called by Jesus’, was crucified on a diagonal cross.
Thirdly, we have the red saltier on white ground of St. Patrick of Ireland; named from the Latin ‘patris’, meaning father; or in its more esoteric sense, Spirit. So, we find the totality of the Trinity in man of body, soul, and spirit in this simple but infinitely elegant red, blue, and white design of the Union Jack – probably the most beautiful and recognized flag in the world.
Wales, Scotland, Ireland? But where is England in the flag over which the sun never set at the height of the British Empire?! Well, it’s just not there, due to the Union Jack being a three-fold Celtic mandala, England is largely rather of Anglo-Saxon (Germanic) stock.
The Celts bear in their collective soul a completely different spiritual impulse, not only from the English Nordic, but from every other race. Central to this is the cultivation of the path of Esoteric Christianity expressing over the last two millennia as the Grail Mysteries.
It is believed in many centers of Grail questing that the nominal guiding spirit of the Celtic people, of their folk soul, The Archangel Michael, became the inspirer of Esoteric (as opposed to traditional Church) Christianity in the world. All the under-lying teaching~. and impulses of the Celts are said to have their source in this Sun Archangel’s inspirations.
Hence Michael sacred sites in Celtic Britain, like the Skellig Isles west of Ireland, Glastonbury, and St Michel’s Mount off Cornwell, are more common, and held in higher holiness, than any other sacred places.
Celtic Australians have certainly been at the forefront in incarnating the specific “three C” Michaelian principles of courage, compassion, and creativity – will, feeling and thought – into this physically and spiritually thirsting land. The above should convince any Aussie that we are indeed privileged to be the proud possessors of such a universal and timeless symbol on our flag.
But there is more: as in our anthem, our fluttering red, white and blue emblem bears one of the most profound images of Christianity, the Southern Cross. It was this sublime constellation that inspired the emperor Constantine to convert the Roman Empire to Christianity. “By this cross shall I conquer.” he is said to have exclaimed. The four 7-pointed stars of the Cross are white on an indigo ground; a lovely expression of the velvety sou them night sky. Seven is, in cabbalistic numerology, the “number of perfections”, or of the cosmic human soul (as in seven astrological planets, musical tones, spectrum colors et al).
‘Perfection’? Our flag’s septograms were actually intended to reflect Australia’s seven states and territories; we are probably the only country on earth with seven sovereign dominions.
How different we would feel with six, eight – or even 51 states! How then would Australia’s seven ‘states’ relate to the seven – astrological – planets? The ‘premier state’, New South Wales, would have to be the Sun, having a financial, historical, and even political clout far in advance of the others. Then, based on the collective psychic nature of its citizens, we might have: Jovian Victorians; Martian Tasmanians; Venusian Queenslanders; saturnine West Australians; lunar South Australians; ending with those mercurial Territorians.
These mostly man-made state boundaries would seem to be only a general division; there being no discernible difference between an Albury and a Wodonga soul!
The West Australian border was determined centuries before white settlement. This 129E line of longitude is known as The Great Meridian; that which bisects the whole planet like an orange. This was to provide the Portuguese and Spanish colonizers with half a world each, Portugal claiming the west, and Spain the east.
But one star, the little one at 5 o’clock in the Cross, is not seven, but 5-pointed. Even this is important. The pentagram is the universal symbol of Man; the 5-pointed star celebrating the birth of the Son of Man on the top of the Christmas tree being a perennial reminder. So the image of the Southern Cross on our flag shows the individual human being, the microcosm, abiding under the mantle of the macrocosmic, universal heavens.
Then there is the big star, that standing alone beneath the Union Jack. · This is the Evening and Morning Star, or Hesperus and Lucifer as known to the ancient Greeks.
It too is 7-pointed; one of its appellations being Lord of Light (or as Lucis, as described in the Old Testament, Lord of the Dawn). As Mercury, it is the universally recognized Lord of Enlightenment of spiritual adepts. Mercury?! Astronomers today of course call this most-bright planet Venus. However, prior to the 18thCentury, it was known as Mercury; as can be seen in earlier star charts, including those of Greece and Rome.
Church mischief-makers switched Venus and Mercury to discredit “pagan” astrology.
So, in more informed spiritual circles nominal Venus is known as Occult Mercury, and Mercury, that tiny planet shyly hiding under the skirts of the sun, is Occult Venus.
Australia is indeed a culture where the multifarious “enlightenment” principles of Mercury are increasingly thriving; some aspects being material prosperity, a spirit of liberalism, and scientific and_ artistic intelligence – and that most Australian, hence egalitarian, of canons – “a fair go”.
These qualities are revealed in spectacular style by Australia Day being the time our national honors are bestowed, including the highly prestigious, Australian of the Year. With few exceptions, the receivers are people of merit, character, and achievement: some even sportspersons! Mainly, however, they are folk who have brought Australian culture, whether scientific, political, or artistic, forward to a significant degree.
The main Citizenship ceremonies around the country are also held on Australia Day, a celebration of our highly successful multi-cultural society.
There have been many suggestions for changing the date of Australia Day, due mainly in acknowledgement of aboriginal sensitivities that regard it, as earlier mentioned, as Invasion Day. However, none has purchase with the broader community; so, Australia Day is likely to remain January 26 for the foreseeable future. The biggest party, including tall ship and ferry races, is still on the blue wonder that is Sydney Harbor, the site of the First Fleet landing.
So, we have a lot to celebrate on Australia Day each year, a festival poignantly symbolized by our honors, our new citizens and our beautiful national anthem and our flag.