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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…
Man & Animal – Class 4 – Main Lesson
The great sailfish leapt out of the water, silhouetted for a moment against a rising moon. The fishing line arced, then sprung taught as the massive strength of the struggling pelagic propelled itself into yet another burst for freedom. But to no avail; slowly the lone fisherman in the bobbing launch played the sailfish closer and closer to the boat.
Soon the fan-like dorsal fin could be seen cutting and swaying through the moonlit ripples. The fish was clearly exhausted, as it was heaved triumphantly up into the boat. Here it lay gasping, a thing of blue-green iridescence – brushed with silver.
Exultation gradually turned to appreciation; after all, the fisherman was – when he wasn’t fishing – a primary school teacher – hence by definition, an Artist. As such, the loveliness touched his soul; but even more – aesthetic appreciation turned to adoration as he beheld the marvelous form of this, the world’s fastest swimmer. Every curve, every proportion, was perfectly designed to harmonize with the 7 Oceans through which the mighty sailfish so freely travels – traveled!
Love turned to remorse as the blade-sharp swallow tail drummed slowly and pitifully on the bottom of the boat. Then the fisherman/teacher deftly removed the hook and committed the sailfish back to the deep!
His dream of standing proudly on the weigh-in wharf, rod in hand, dimmed as the water swirled moon-silver for a moment, then became still once more. Teacher’s head regretted the loss of kudos. After all, he may have got his picture in the local paper – his mindless grin a counterpoint to the dignity-in-humiliation of his tail-hanging victim. But his heart was glad – joyful even!
“That was a nice thing to do.” Said an infantile voice from the water beside the boat “So you’ve decided to give up fishing and concentrate on more humane pursuits eh?”
Teacher looked over the stern and saw a Chambered Nautilus bobbing below; its white-and-brown striped spiral form etched on the inky water. He thought that the excitement must have given his mid a reality-shift – and perhaps it had. So he placed amazement – incredulity even – in the bottom of the boat with the bait, and replied.
“Ahem …er, thank you; you see I was overcome with a range of emotions, from ecstasy to agony – all of a higher nature, and I …”
“I know why you did it; we animals have a pretty good range of vision – make that vision – from our astral-dominant vantage point. For instance, I know that next week you begin a main lesson in Class 4 called Man and Animal. Might I add, the success of this 3-week unit depended on your actions this evening – and you’ve came through! So fill me in on some of the details.”
Nautilus’ eyes watched Teacher’s wide counterparts for any sign of regression to the usual human intellectual (read ‘blind’) perception of the world, but there was none.
“Well it is a Science (physical body) main; this further devolves into 3 strands. Man and Animal is strangely enough, the 3rd or Human Sciences strand, that which appeals to the ‘thinking’ faculties of the child more than the other two. It is oddly enough a ‘human’ science, as the animal world is perceived to be intrinsically part of that of Man, as opposed to the Plant and Earth botany equivalent.
You animals have always been our close friends, our fellow-travelers in evolution; sacrificing yourselves to take on the dross – the soul slough – of humanity, so that our evolution might proceed. We therefore must cultivate in our children an underlying attitude of gratitude.”
“That sounds like a platitude – erf, erf …”
“What? Oh that was a joke was it? Ha, ha – anyway, the emphasis on this Class 4 unit is on the physicalaspects of the animal world, especially as there unfold through the eons. Psychic, planetary – and zodiacal even – zoology units occur later in the curriculum. But I’m blowed if I can sort out all that evolutionary stuff – the gobbledygook of science, with their mumblezoic geological periods and so on.” Teacher sat back, his face puzzled.
“you’ve got to be careful with the assertions of modern science;” began Nautilus slowly “approaching it with a ‘see but not say’ circumspection. Most of their observations you can take as accurate. If they describe the fossil layers, then that’s how they are – you can count on it. But the piffle they say about it – ‘306 million years here; this must have evolved from that’ – you almost certainly disregard.
Scientific theories, like rules, are meant to be broken – and they almost always are. So why take them on board in the first place? There is only one ‘reference book’ to have recourse to in plumbing the mysteries of the deep past.”
“And what book is that?”
“The Akashic Chronicle.”
The silence was palpable as Moon regarded this unlikely dialogue with interest; but groaned at Teacher’s response.
“Er, is that in the Dewey System?” Nautilus took some minutes to return from the safe logarithmic cavern, not which he had retreated from the fatuousness of mankind.
“Perhaps we’ll stay on firmer – if not more real – ground. I’ll tell you my story: As an animal, the blueprint for my existence was drawn up – in a spiritual sense – on Ancient Sun. Yes, the animal world, as a single entity, was created on Sun; just as humanity was on Ancient Saturn; the previous planetary ‘Globe’.
The concept linking ‘Man & Animal’ is further confirmed by the fact that, again in a supersensible manner, Man on Ancient Saturn was just like me – a head! So you can hold a shell like mine up to the class and, with truth, say – ‘Thus were we’. Indeed the entire teeming Invertebrate world, with its 10 Phyla, are regarded as ‘heads’. Some, like the bee, seem to have a clearly defined head-thorax-abdomen nature; but they lack that all-important backbone. Perhaps they can be seen as the animal equivalent of brow-face-jaw. On Ancient Sun, humanity had reached (metaphysically) the next stage, that of the Vertebrates – but only those of cold blood. Hey Sailfish, you can go on from here!”
Nautilus disappeared; Teacher suddenly felt lonely, and a little afraid; fearful of the responsibility of introducing this important life-learning to his children.
Teacher was also afraid of the illimitable expanse of indigo/black ocean stretching away on all sides. But above all, he was fearful of confronting the great and beautiful fish; the same which he had, only a short time ago… and there it was, cutting a sinuous line through the moon-spangled water – at breathtaking speed! Just as it looked as if the massive dorsal fin would bifurcate the small boar, it stopped! – and began circling slowly.
“Yes, can I help you?” it asked, it’s tone cautious.
“I, er, Nautilus was saying – we got to Ancient Sun!”
“Ah, that’s when man added a chest, or rhythmic system, to his nautiline ‘head’. We fish are just that really; a head with a chest attached. Some cold-blooded vertebrates take it a little further, like the Amphibians and Reptiles (there are only 3 classes of cold-bloods). These show-offs pre-empted the next major leap in evolution, the Warm-blooded Vertebrates. But maybe we should get a representative from them to take up the story – I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Where’s he going?” queried a puzzled teacher.
“Oh, to an off-shore inland about 15 miles away.” Replied Nautilus dreamily.
“But we’ll be waiting all night … what’s that? You’re back already!? And who’s that with you? Gosh, it’s a Sea Lion – ahem, good evening.”
“Aarrrgghh – how be ye?” answered Sea Lion in a kind of Ancient Mariner accent “Oi’m t’ tell ye of the next great evolutionary stage eh? The metabolic/limb system added to the head/chest man on Ancient Moon. Nay, not she up therrre” chuckled Sea Loin – er, I mean Lion – glancing moon-wards “but o the 3rd Glove, the planet comprising – again in a spiritual sense only – liquid. Aarrrgh – it was ‘ere that man resembled the warm-blooded vertebrates – me.
These are conveniently divided into 4 Classes – birds, monotremes, marsupials, and placental mammals. I’m one of them; and one of the few placentals native to Australia I must say. As well as a complex metabolic system, we warm-bloods developed the specialized limb – a far croi from the mainly unvaried limbs of the cold-bloods (unless you call a fish fin a limb!).
Silence again descended on the silver night, a cue it seemed for little Nautilus to break the surface and speak.
“I suppose we’d better move on to the 4th planetary incarnation, or glove – the Earth. It’s mission was to bring all this creation into material existence. We Invertebrates were the first to incarnate of course, as the fossil record attests. The ‘head’ animals manifest in the first earth geological period, or ‘Round’, the Polarian. Geologists call this the Archeozoic, or ‘first animal’. The rock record – another kind of infallible ‘book’ – shows us inverts to be embedded in the oldest layers of all. Here it was that man extruded us – so that hecould advance! As such, all teaching of zoology must contain a gratitude element.
It’s like a riddle really; we are at the same time, due to our relatively simple structure, the youngest members of creation – youngest spiritually – oldest physically, yes? There is an evolutionary law that states that the simpler the organism, the younger it is. Thake it from here Sailfish.”
“Very well,” replied the race-ace of the sea, circling in ever-increasing speed around the boat in excitement.
“Hey, slow down!! I’ll tip out!” cried the boat bound.
“Sorry – it’s just that I feel so privileged to be a delegate for the Col-blooded Vertebrates. We materialized in the Hyperborean Epoch, the 2nd Round (geological Paleozoic – ‘old animal’). The 3 Classes did this in turn; we fish emerged in the Devonian, known as the Age of the Fishes. The world was mostly ocean at this time – a pity it didn’t stay that way!
The amphibians, stodgy old things, crawled up onto something only marginally resembling dry earth – in the Carboniferous period. Carbon, you know – the great coal-forming age? An unpleasant world of swamps, bogs and soft forests, with huge spongy tree ferns and so on. An apt home for frogs and stuff I suppose.”
“Oh Sailfish, you can be a snob. Sometimes I wish the Guinness Book of Records hadn’t given you that ‘fastest swimmer’ entry! This shining planet even has room for those slimy, wide-mouthed little…” Nautilus blushed and fell silent under Moon’s remonstrative glare. Sailfish smirked and went on.
“The reptiles – ugh – are the creation of the desert-like Permain Age; the last of the 3 Hyperborean periods. But I think you can go on from here Sea Lion.”
This thick-furred member of the Warm-bloods had stuck his whiskered nose over the edge of the boat. Old bait – what a perfume! In fact he had smelt the smelt from some miles away – they were a bit on the nose! This senses element is not to be sneezed at in a presentation of the animal world. Each creature has, in its specialized way, perfected the senses in this 4th planetary stage – our own. Just so were the human senses perfect in the last globe – that of Old Moon. Sea Lion took up the tale.
“Aarrghh, we Warm-blooded vertebrates – or 3 of the 4 Classes of us at least – entered the gloom of corporeality in the Lemurian epoch (or Mesozoic as the geologists so uninspiringly call it – ‘middle animals’!). This too is comprised of 3 sub-epochs, each manifestin’ one of us. The birds are of the Triassic; the monotremes (‘one hole’ have, haw) the Jurassic; and the marsupials are creations of the Cretaceous Age.
This last is also known as ‘The Great Dying’; a period of zoological mystery – the near-simultaneous extinction of every dinosaur o earth!
This was actually the result of a great spiritual event; the dinosaurs were, over time, transformed from their brutal state into … the cuddly marsupials! (and on a more metaphysical level, according to the Doctor, into the white blood corpuscles of man!). Even then the earliest marsupials were large and savage. The Great Dying had to occur, as the evolution of the whole animal world, and indirectly that of man (although not materialized at the time), was threatened by their bloody-fanged reign.
Aye, I’d sure fancy meetin’ a kangaroo, even if a giant one, more than a – shudder – diprotodon! Though to be sure, their silhouettes are essentially the same – ye know, small head, tiny forepaws, erect gait on massive hind limbs and tail. In form, many marsupials can directly be compared with their saurian ancestors. Children love this kind of visual comparison, leadin’ as it does to quite remarkable discoveries, which, as I ken, is what your human learnin’ is all about. Baby seals know it all at birth!”
Sea Lion waited till teacher had registered the simple message that, before he would proffer any more information, he had to be paid. After neatly catching one of the small silver bait fish – or Devonians! – he continued.
“The placental mammals – us – joined the Evolutionary Express in the Atlantean Epoch (Cenozoic – ‘new animal’). We are the 4th Class of Warm-bloods – a bit of an improvement on ol’ Naughty here eh?! Haw, haw – cough!”
“And what of the Quaternary – the Post-Atlantean Age? Our own!” said the Teacher quickly, to avoid a scene!
“Arraggh, a real shame that – this is the age of the domestic animal, as described in the Noah yar. We seals have never been domesticated – the performing seals in zoos are still really wild animals.”
“Is that so?” said a miffed Nautilus “Well we’re no sycophants to man – we’ve got our pride we have! But I suppose the ‘domestics’ have their place – children seem to like them well enough (I can’t bear to be patted anyway). I guess these little ones sense themselves as part of the animal world – or vice-versa. Man and Animal yes?
Which brings me to an important part of the lesson, the Extrusion Principle, Man. In his J-curve of development, he had to externalize one or other aspect from his being – to assure progress. For instance, in Atlantis man had (variously) a long, sensitive nose. To advance Thinking, this distractive sense organ had gradually to be cast off. And who took it on> the poor elephants of course (though they don’t seem to mind?)!
A spiritually true but funny exercise with the class is to draw this process. One side of the page of the main lesson book we have ‘Homo Probiscus’ – erf, erf! And on the other, an elephant with a dainty little snoz! In between we draw the transitions. This will have the children legless, whilst instructing them on one of the greatest of mysteries. After all, you lot did extrude every animal on earth!
“But what of man?” said Teacher querulously. The 3 animals looked at each other in puzzlement. Moon rolled her eyes and drew a cloud over her white face. “Surely we draw the distinction between man and animal so that the lesson can go full cycle?”
Teacher continued with his peroration, not noticing that he was now alone. “We began with the creation of man – as an ‘invertebrate’, or head, on Ancient Saturn. What did we achieve on this 4th globe, Earth?” he idly threw out the rest of the bait, and waited for a helpful response, but here was none. And then he saw them – his own hands!
“These are what makes man, the 4th Kingdom – the universal limb. The human hand was created to serve the world; and especially those who are now so dependent on us, the Animal World. These hands were created to suffer the agony of the Stigmata on our long re-ascent to the Spirit. I am because I touch, caress, grasp, support, repel – and give!”
The next 3 weeks would present yet another opportunity to give, to serve – the privilege of bestowing rich educational gifts to his Class 4. Teacher could hardly wait to get back to start his Man and Animal main lesson – so Moon created, with her own invisible hands, a land-ward flow-tide to speed hi on his way.
Seashell, Seashell, lying on the sand,
Somewhere out there;
You are from a million-colored
Land where sunlight warms the waters clear.
When I hold you to my ear,
The rolling surf on the reef I hear.
You rode in upon the tide –
Hollow, hard outside.
If you could hear I’d talk to you,
To the Nautilus and the Urchin too.
Secrets you could tell to me,
From the bottom of the sea.
Sailfish, Sailfish, all alone and free,
Somewhere out there
Home is where the sunset meets the
Seagulls warn of Southern Ocean storms.
You feel the call of the current warm,
North to the tropics where you were born;
To a gilded sun in a crimson morn –
Flying Fish make way!
Blur-fanned fin on a crested wave,
The fastest fish through the flying spray,
Till you reach the Coral Sea,
On the Great Barrier Reef.
Sealion, Sealion, lying on the flow,
Somewhere out there,
Veils of polar light shine on the
Snowstorms warn of death for those who stay,
In a coat of fur, grey flecked with white,
On a journey to Australia’s Bight.
Catch a meal along the way –
Travel night and day!
A crowded beach on a coastal isle,
Your family’s grown, so stay awhile.
Sun grows strong and says grow long –
Soon you’ll all be gone.
Alan Whitehead (c) 1975
Full music notation in my book 33 Sun Songs
A FLUKE OF A TALE
“Why don’t you write something a little armer than your usual politics, pogroms and poverty pontification?” suggested by editor “Perhaps a travel piece; about some adventurer with tall tales from the frigid to the torrid zones.”
“A tall tailed traveler? Okay chief, if that’s what you want.” I replied, my tone puzzle. So I interviewed a Humpback Whale.
Me: Thanks for talking to me – I suppose you qualify as a feel good subject. You winter in the Coral Sea each year don’t you? That sure feels good to me. You migrate up from your Southern Ocean home to breed each year, yes?
Whale: What?! Ahem, as you say, we Humpbacks both copulate and procreate in the warm tropic waters. We don’t eat there though; rather loading on the fat reserves all through summer in the cold but nutritious waters of the seep south – to use a familiar phrase about an unfamiliar place.
Readers may be curious to know how this unorthodox interview was conducted Whales are reputed, by the more esoteric cetacean researchers anyway, to have supersensible powers – to be psychic even. To aid communication, terrestrially handicapped as I was, I positioned myself on the cape at Byron Bay. This is the highest point around with a view out to sea. I then took a star fix on the constellation of the wale, Cetus, which bounced the signal from moon-spangled ocean to me.
Me: So you began your northward journey in early Autumn yes?
Whale: that’s right, about the time of the Equinox. Most of us pass Cape Byron there months later, around the Winter Solstice. We travel about 200 kilometers a month, making an average of 70ks a day. We have to sleep in that time as well of course. Tasmania is on our port side in late April, we…
Me: Tasmania! – April? You probably didn’t hear about the massacre…
Whale: We heard – in fact I was just off Port Arthur on Black Sunday – we don’t use only physical eyes and ears to know what’s going on you know. But then tragedy isn’t a stranger to the ‘Holiday Isle’; for man or beast. Many thousands of whales were slaughtered in the early days as we rested in the Derwent River.
Me: At least some good has some out of it; there’s been a government clampdown on gun ownership; but the shooters say ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’.
Whale: Hrrmpph – a moral misfit kills 35 souls at Port Arthur with a semi-automatic weapon – a similar person tries the same thing in an English kindergarten a few months later with a machete – and only manages to wound seven. Guns do kill people, like harpoons kill whales!
Me: Hmm, a compelling argument – but on the brighter side, have you heard of the rare white whale seen occasionally on the East Australia migration route?
Whale: Who do you think you’re interviewing?!!
Me: I’m sorry! That makes you a kind of Southern Hemisphere Moby Dick.
Whale: Except Moby was a Sperm Whale; those are more common on the west coast of Australia. Speaking of legends, do you know that we whales are the only named animals in the Genesis creation story – ‘And God created the great whales’; that was on the ‘fifty day’. You lot were only created on the sixth – He knew His priorities!
Me: !?! … Anyway, we ‘lot’ are fascinated by your famed ‘whale song’; potent with nameless yearning as it is. What’s it all mean?
Whale: Our heartfelt keening is an elegy, an aural memorial to all the suffering in the world. I’m working on a song – a timeless lament – for the Port Arthur victims and their families right now.
Me: Goodness! On a more practical level, how far can you hear each other’s songs?
Whale: Oh for hundreds of miles; our ears receive extra low frequency (ELF) found., In fat interference by human marine cacophony is hindering long-range communication
between us, with unpredictable consequences.
But now I’d like to interview you; I’m a journalist for our own newspaper The Baleen Bugle. Let’s start with yourlove life. How far do you migrate to copulate?
Me: I, er – I’m sorry, I’ve got to file this story by morning – deadlines, deadlines!!
Two man & Animal excursions with my Class 4, 1975; an inner and an outer experience.
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