Friday, December 08, 2017

Christmas memory

My parents got divorced the day after I graduated from high school. I had spent most of my unschool time raising my baby sister and baby brother (aged 4 and 7 when the folks got divorces, my babies of the heart!). Mom swore to the judge she would keep those kids in the State of IL even as she knew she had hired a moving company to come to our house that afternoon and remove most of the furniture, including the beds of a couple of her kids left behind.

She disappeared for a couple years with my babies. I used to drink 3.2 beer in my college in Wisconsin which allowed eighteen year olds, back then, to drink 3.2, get drunk and weep about my babies. It hurt so much that they had been ripped out of my life. [Not unlike the greater pain of having my only child begin to shun me at age 17 and she still does at age 35. . . wtf did I do to attract that karma, eh?).

My mom had the balls to go back to that judge and ask him to force my dad to pay his court ordered child support. That judge told my dad he did not have to pay a cent, and never had to pay it retroatively until our mother told us where the kids were in this world. Mom was shocked but she held out another year or so. She told us older kids she was afraid our father would kill her.

My father was a flawed man but not at all a violent one.  I was so appalled to hear my mother telling her older kids, three of us in college when she disappeared, that our father would kill her if she toild us where she lived.

He finally hired a detective to find his kids. He did not try to kill our mother. And then she showed up to demand her child support.

She had a lot of nerve. She left him with college bills for three of her children. She did not contribute a cent for our college. And, kinda pathetically, she had told me that my indentured servitude for her children and housekeeping for, altogether, about a decade, was helping her go to college and once she had her degree, she'd help me get mine.  I wrote to her once at the beginning of a semester to ask for a sall contribution towards my textbooks for that semester. She said, and she was married to a wealthy man and had a full time teacher job, that she could not possibly spare me $30 because she spent most of her salary buying a Winnebago.

I have not been well loved and here I am, 64, and still struggling to see myself as lovable.

To the Xmas memory:  when the kids did return to our lives, they would spend Christmas with dad and the rest of us in Chicago. As the only adult female on the scene, I took over Christmas planning, cooking, gift buying.

So one Christmas while I was in college, or maybe law school (the date eludes), I made sure every sibling got what they really wanted for Christmas. I baked and cooked.  On Christmas morning all the kids, including my two bros also in college, tore open all their presents and then settled in to enjoy them when my dad noticed that no one, not even he, had given me a gift. Not one.

I had chosen virtually every gift that my five siblings and my dad had received (dad paid) but no one had thought to give me a damned thing.

Dad got up, hitched his pants as he often did and said "Charles, come with me, I need your help." And they went to Walgreens. In those days, the only stores open on Xmas were a very few drug stores for medicine. But Walgreens sold other stuff. Dad had asked Chuck to go with him to help him choose something for me at Walgreens.

When they returned home, dad said "I found some presents for you in my trunk. I had forgotten to bring them in." This was not true. He had bought me a couple gifts at Walgreens with my creepy brother Chuck's input. I got some Cachet cologne, a candle and an odd address 'book' that was made of metal, with a slider for each letter in the alphamet. Closed, I was supposed to slide the slider to the letter of the alphabet where I was supposed to correctly post people's names and addresses.

I kept that weird thing for years. I never used it.

Funny. Dad gong to Walgreens and buying me junky presents was more upsetting to me than getting no presents. Truth told, I would have preferred fifty bucks.

Oh, he had also bought an electric hair dryer. That was useful. And he made quite the fuss about how he had kept the hairdryer in the trunk to 'surprise' me. 

I acted happy about my gifts. I did not say anything negative. I just moved our holiday feting along to our Christmas brunch.

My daughter did not like to give me gifts. The last time I saw her near Christmas, when, I believe, she had decided to shun me for the rest of her life, she special ordered a pendant for me that was crafted by a jewelry artist whose work I really liked back then. I had several of the artists earrings and the pendant went with most of the earrings.  It was costume jewelry but it was very important to me because it was the first time my daughter had been thoughtful and went out of her way to get me something she considered special.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

a miracle


I am how I see others

As a man is, so he sees.
William Blake

It seems to be time for me to study some of William Blake's work. I have always been aware of him. As a teen and twenty-something, I used to tell myself the really great poets were beyond me. Now I know this is nonsense (to think Blake is beyond my comprehension!). I wish I had known this when I was a teen.

I did not get a really great education. Much of my education, especially in relation to great literary art, was about teachers telling me what things. What nonsense!  Like visual art means what the viewer gets out of it, what I get from a Blake, Dickinson, cummings, or whoever poem, is right.

When I gave weekly tours in a contemporary art museum, usually to grade school student groups but sometimes for adults, integral to every tour was my indivitation to the tour participants to trust their own vision, to trust that what they saw in any art I showed them was entirely accurate.

Who is to say what art means? Great artists know that as soon as they release their work into the world, they lose the power to define its meaning. Not just visual artists.

Once I had a then-new, not-not-a-friend ask me, when I had mentioned spending hundreds of hours studying Dickinson's poetry while I lived in Amherst, MA for two years, he said, and this guy has a doctorate from Stanford's English department and taught some kind of poetry classes (Yikes!), if I thought I could understand Emily Dickinson. 

I told my sister the English teacher, who has a MS on fellowship from Stanford and her PhD from somewhere else, scoffed at this guy and said "What? Two brilliant women like us couldn't possibly understand an Emily Dickinson poem?!"  I did not share sis' umbrage with the guy. And this particular guy did, over the seven or eight years we socialized but were not, as he once unkindly put it, ever friends [So why did he socialize with me all those years if we weren't friends? Sheesh.]  I remember feeling soothed by my sister's indignation, by her including me in her belief that anyone could understand an Emily Dickinson poem. Or any other poem.

Now I see the guy I just mentioned very differently than I saw him, oh, maybe ten years ago when he insulted my ingelligence about Emily Dickinson (did he ever spend two years in Amherst? did he read every book written about ED that was available thorugh the Amherst library and Amherst College library?!!! I think not.). Did he ever tour her home, feel her in that home, even hear her whispering upstairs to Lavinia?  I have.

Now I wonder if this guy is/was small and fearful and projected his smallness (smallness of thought) and fear onto me, wonder if he felt limitations and projected what he perceived as his limitations onto me.)

I just recalled an interaction with this guy, which is probably why I am thinking about him now. The day before Thanksgiving, maybe 7 or 8 years ago, we agreed to meet to talk about the stressors in our relationship. I prepared for this meeting carefully, listing specific examples of things he had said to me or things he had done, that had unsettled me. He prepped nothing. He showed up pretty late. He tried to leave early. He, and this struck me as odd, took notes on what I said. He, however, had nothing to contribute. He had nothing to point out in my behavior as unsettling or challenging to him.  He gave no indication that he appreciated the very sincere effort I had made, because I cared about him and our friendship, or what I then believed was a friendship -- who schedules a four hour meeting to work on a relationship and offers nothing?

Two things.

At the end of our conflict resolution attempt, he said "All you have done here is what you always do. Complain complain complain."  I did not always complain. And I had not complained that day. I had shared my experience of his treatment of me because I believed, obviously mistakenly, that he wanted us to have a better relationship.

I talked him to his car. When we got near it, he did say he regretted his complain complain complain remark.  I am sorry to say I did not forgive him.  I think I cried when he expressed regret.

And that brings me to a question:  is expressing regret the same as saying I am sorry? Cause that guy never once said he was sorry for any of his behavior. He would say he regretted my misunderstanding of his behavior, or that he regretted it if I had had an expectation different from his own (like when he showed up for my 60th birthday celebration with him -- and he had invited me to get together -- and said "Hurry up, I only have an hour. I have a work meeting." And it was a Saturday. When I said I was hurt about 'only an hour', he said "I knew you would be hurt." So why didn't he talk to me, during one of the three times I had phoned him the day before to nail down details of our celebration of my milestone birthday, that he was time limited.  I phoned once because we had not confirmed time or location of our birthday party. Then I phoned back to offer to show him how to make very inexpensive, homemade coconut milk. And then I phoned a third time to urge him to bring glass bottles for the hot coconut milk, for he had said he'd bring a plastic milk bottle. Three times we talked, yet he never mentioned he had made other plans and had to cram my birthday party in. And he later said "I knew you would be hurt".

I try, so hard, to avoid doing things I know will hurt someone, anyone, but especially those I care about.  When he told me he had to rush our lunch (I had assumed an afternoon since he had initially invited me to dinner and I suggested lunch to save him money), I said I didn't want to go to lunch anymore and asked him to leave. He would not.  He tried to tgroup me. He asked "is there anything we could do right now that might help you feel better?"  I had already tried to do what would have made me feel better, which was see him leave so I could nurse my hurt in private. I felt a little threatened when he just sat in my home and pressed me to talk. He did not offer to talk, did not offer his thoughts. It was all about me fixing things.  All I wanted was for him to leave me with my sense of wounding and when he tgrouped me, I said we could do the coconut milk before lunch so it would have time to cool. I caretaked. I took care of him, using the coconu milk making to help me cover my hurt.

I didn't want to go to lunch with him after that. I really had asked for what I really wanted, which was for him to leave. Then it would have been up to him to call and try again, invite me again, under circumstances under which he did not know beforehand I would feel hurt. He knew I would be hurt and he behaved as he did anyway.

I am wading through some low days. I haven't thought about the sixtieth birthday thing in years.

I see I still blame myself, as if it were wrong of me to hold the expectation that someone inviting me out for my birthday wanted to show he cared about me.  I am ashamed that I wanted to be treated kindly.

As far as what I "see" in his behavior, I can say now, four years later, that I don't have any understanding of his behavior. I don't understand why someone would invite me out to celebrate my birthday and then show up announcing it had to be a quickie lunch because he had a business meeting on a Saturday.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

daddy's little girl? yeah, right. . .

I went to the Apple genius bar today to get help with a software conflict. The Berkeley Apple store is down on 4th Street. It's full of what looks to me to be high end stores. It's a bit of a shopping mecca, I guess. I have only ventured down there for the Crate and Barrel closeout shop and for the very rare trip to Apple. The whole street was lit up, with holiday lights but also lit people, lots of people.

I don't really shop. I see clothing I like in some of the women's clothing shops but they look expensive and they don't look like they sell clothes for not-thin women. I like Sur la Table. I used to be an art docent at the Henry Gallery at the U. of WA with one of the co-founders of Sur la Table, the wife from the couple that founded it. They were very serious art collectors and hosted all the docents at their home so we could see their art-soaked house. Just about everything in the home was a work of art. But, yikes, nothing on sale at Sur La Table. Do they ever have sales? I still use the cookware I acquired when I got married in 1979. but I did need a new garlic press so I got one.

I tend to forget that many people consider current styles in many, even most, areas of life. I bought really good cookware in 1979, and really good stoneware and really good flatware back then. It's all still perfectly good!

I did get a slight taste of the lure of impulse shopping. I walked by a tiny lighting store and they had a few stringy things hanging in their doorway: wires wrapped around stones on a string, or pieces of glass wrapped with wire on a string. Pretty things. Pretty baubles that caught my eye and I thought "This would make a perfect couple's gift for the couple I am spending Xmas with in Canada!" I walked into the shop so I'd have a little time to think about buying that bauble. The two people behind the cash register both perked up to have one customer in their shop. The item that caught my eye was only $25. At first I said to myself "Yes, I will get it" but by the time I looked around for another minute, I began to watch myself. Watch how I was getting caught up in the capitalist version of 'the holidays'.

The real reason I didn't buy the bauble is because the colors of the pretty strung glass bits were no my friend's colors. It was all blue-y. Blue is me.

I was reminded of the year my then-two-year-old insisted on giving her father a Smurfette puzzle for Xmas, post-legal-separation. He was furious over that puzzle -- with me, not her as far as I know. He said "What an insult, giving me a children's toy." I explained to him that our daughter dearly loved the Smurfette doll he had given her, she kept it with her 24/7 and she had been so happily thrilled to give her dad that smurfette puzzle . . . not a Smurf but a Smurfette. He did not believe me when I said she had so happily chosen it and so happily believed she was giving him something special. I don't remember asking him if he criticized that puzzle to her. I hope not. I also pointed out to him that all of her toys were at the house she and I lived in and I thought it wasn't so bad that she had a puzzle she loved at his home.

This reminds me of a few years later, when the Berlin Wall had fallen. Dayton's, which eventually was bought out by Macy's, sold little pieces of the Berlin Wall as meaningless Xmas gifts, sorta the pet rock of that year? I tried to talk her out out of giving her dad a piece of the Berlin Wall because I knew he would see it as an insult, as me making a commentary on how I was, by then, free of any chains to him. And, sure enough, that is exactly how he interpreted that piece of the Berlin wall. and he refused to believe I had tried to talk her out of it. She thought it was a thrilling gift, to have a piece of real, exciting history he could touch!! She was thrilled to give him that gift.

Ironically, even kinda funnily, his favorite 'gift from her' was something I had purchased without her input and I had bought it to mock him. He had a mustache and I bought a ninety nine cent mustache clipper on clearance at a Target and had her give it to him. He bragged about his daughter's thoughtful gift for years. And I never told him she had nothing to do with it. How I loved it that he was so thrilled with that very cheap mustache trimmer. I had been pleased to get off so cheaply.  And I had the grace to never tell him it had been a 99 cent present. Nor did I ever tell him that she had nothing to do with that choice.

Until she left me, I bought him Father's Day, birthday and Christmas gifts (his birthday is tomorrow, Nov 26th!) every year after we separated, even when he was at his height of assholery regarding our custody litigation, such as having me followed 24/7 to collect evidence. Evidence of me driving to daycare, driving to my office, driving to my health club and driving to the shelter for battered women which was hidden in an old CAtholic orphanage.

One year I ordered a baseball from Neiman Marcus signed by Sammy Sosa in the year Sammy Sosa was a very big deal. Our daughter was at college and I did not consult her about that Sammy Sosa baseball but it thrilled him, as I had known it would. He could be like a little boy when it came to sports. Once he asked me how I knew exactly what to get him (this when still married -- he never credited me with any of the gifts I paid for and shipped to him on our daughter's behalf after we separated) -- did he think our four year old begged me to take her shopping for his birthday, or even remembered his birthday without my reminders? Yes he did -- Once he asked me how I knew what gifts he would like and I sang "Because I've got you under my skin . . . ". Which was true, in a bad infection kind of way. Upon reflection, I am not sure our daughter ever even registered the fact that 'she' had given her dad that Sammy Sosa baseball and yet he gushed and gushed over the awesome gift his daughter gave him. He seriously believed that.

Guess how many times he took her shopping for me, or just reminded her that maybe with Christmas coming, she might want to get me a gift? Never. Not once.

My daughter did not give me many gifts. No one had ever mentored her with the idea of giving her mother gifts for Mother's Day, birthday or xmas. The last time I saw her at Christmas, she did give me a nice gift. She special ordered a pendant made by a rhinestone jewelry maker I liked. I had lots of the jewelry maker's earrings and she ordered a pendant to match one pair of the earrings. In hindsight, I think she ordered that gift because she knew she was leaving me. a parting gift?

karma choking me

We attract forces according to our being. - Gurdjieff

go easy on yourself


Thursday, November 23, 2017

saying thank you

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is
–W.S. Merwin, From Migration: New & Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2005).
Copyright © 1988 by W. S. Merwin.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

is she my people?





the holiday hell hole is gone

My daughter told me in 2001, as I dropped her off at Cornell, that she never wanted to see me again. She was 19, not yet a full adult. I did not believe she would shun me forever. She has not interacted with me since, except for me to complete financial aid papers while she was still in college. I wonder if she ever considered the deep love that allowed me to ensure her education was paid for, while her father refused to participate in financial aid, even after she had told me she would never see me again.

I have had many years to keen in grief. And the holidays are still harder for me than the rest of the year. In the beginning, however, I would be engulfed in heartache before Halloween, dreading the upcoming holidays. Every note of every holiday song I happened to hear, every well-meaning question such as "Have a happy Thanksgiving" stabbed me, even gutted me.

I would hunker down and avoid human contact, unfit for human interaction and crippled by my emotional pain.  I came to think of the span from October through after New Year's as the holiday hellhole.  And it was a hellhole for me.

I had just completed a graduate degree when she left me, ready to launch into a new career. Actually I had already launched that new career. But as it gradually saw that she was not coming back, that my only child would go on shunning me, I spiraled into horrible depression. I never got that new career going. I was well and truly too unwell to work.

Writing this is bringing me down, making me cry. And all I really wanted to write is this:  It is Thanksgiving tomorrow and I am not in the holiday hellhole.  I am not in intense emotional pain. I grieve. I wish my daughter would act like a daughter.  What might that look like? An occasional phone call. A birthday card. Let's get crazy, maybe a birthday gift. An occasional visit, face to face.

I seem to be accepting she is gone gone gone, forever.

I am grateful this Thanksgiving that I am not in the holiday hellhole. I am not happy to no longer have a daughter but I am not in the holiday hellhole. Progress? I am not sure.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

cranberry pear pie

Every Thanksgiving week I think about my holiday pie. I can't eat cranberries anymore because of a medication I take. I have been thinking about making my cranberry pear pie. I like the way memories can float about, like the smells coming from a kitchen readying a holiday feast.

It is a simple recipe. A bag of fresh cranberries (usually a pound) and less than one cup of real maple syrup and a bunch of beautiful pears. Prebake the pie crust slightly. Peel and slice the pears. If you are baking this pie with a child, let the child eat all the pear slices s/he wishes to eat. Layer the fruit artistically. And use a lattice top. It is a very beautiful pie. The red cranberries shine like rubies nestled in the pears. The red peeks through the lattice crust nicely. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream. Let the child taste a fresh cranberry too, if they wish. Explain the word pucker afterwards.

The recipe is not really what I was thinking about. I was thinking about the real reason I love to make this pie.

You put the maple syrup in a saucepan with the cranberries. The actual recipe calls for two cups of maple syrup but one of the reasons I like this pie is that it is not too sweet. Cut way down on the maple syrup and you really taste fruit. Cranberries are tart so they need the syrup but use as little as possible.

Heat the syrup and cranberries gently, slowly. Here is the  reason I used to make this pie: as the cranberries warm up and start to both cook and absorb the maple syrup, they make a very soft puffing sound.

Oh my gosh, I love the sound of the cranberries puffing. I love to do this with a child. I love to enjoy the hushed anticipation as we listen for the first puff. While waiting, this is a good time to kiss the child on top of the head a few times.

As soon as the cranberries start puffing, you have to quickly pull the saucepan from the heat. The thrill does not last long, the puffing is only a few seconds and the sounds very soft. Yet it is a very fine experience. There is a temptation to keep the cranberries on too long in the hope that you will get to hear another mild puffing sound but you must resist. Resolve to make this pie again soon.

Then you layer the cooked berries, the pears and bake, not too long, just long enough to meld the flavors, to lightly bake the pears.

gentle sound of cranberries puffing in maple syrup

Every Thanksgiving week I think about my holiday pie. I can't eat cranberries anymore because of a medication I take. I have been thinking about making my cranberry pear pie. I like the way memories can float about, like the smells coming from a kitchen readying a holiday feast.

It is a simple recipe. A bag of fresh cranberries (usually a pound) and less than one cup of real maple syrup and a bunch of beautiful pears. Prebake the pie crust slightly. Peel and slice the pears. If you are baking this pie with a child, let the child eat all the pear slices s/he wishes to eat. Layer the fruit artistically. And use a lattice top. It is a very beautiful pie. The red cranberries shine like rubies nestled in the pears. The red peeks through the lattice crust nicely. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream. Let the child taste a fresh cranberry too, if they wish. Explain the word pucker afterwards.

The recipe is not really what I was thinking about. I was thinking about the real reason I love to make this pie.

You put the maple syrup in a saucepan with the cranberries. The actual recipe calls for two cups of maple syrup but one of the reasons I like this pie is that it is not too sweet. Cut way down on the maple syrup and you really taste fruit. Cranberries are tart so they need the syrup but use as little as possible.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

my ex could be very endearing

Suddenly recalling some happy times with my very long ago ex husband. . .
He had never cooked anything. He took boyish delight in being 'allowed' to help me cook our dinners after work.
He had never ventured out of the core cities where we went to law school until I suggested it.
He had never been to a pro sports game until I suggested we go to one of Minneapolis' pro sports teams. We ended up going to lots of North Star hockey games. I think the North Stars are gone. We went to many Minesota Kicks games, a pro soccer team. Tailgating. We went to some Twins games. Never the Vikings. I had no interest in football.  He had never been to a pro sports game because he had grown up in a small city with no pro sports teams and he grew up poor, so no money to travel to see a game.
When we moved to the small city he grew up in, we sometimes drove to Kansas City to see the Kansas City Royals. The idea of going to Kansas City just because we felt like it tickled his delightful child-self and then, icing on his cake, the KC Royals! 
I was always casting about for new exerpiences I could introduce him too. It was a delight for me to see his boyish delight in doing things for the first time.
I have a super power. I can direct my love rays around obstacles. When I love someone who does not behave in a loving way towards me, someone who does not seek out ways to delight me as I do for others, my love is like a heat-seeking missile. I do this thing in my mind's eye, with my love moving around any obstacles that arise, turning and curving and heading straight to the other being's core.
Once I have loved that way, I don't stop loving the person. My long ago ex -- we've been divorce about 33 years -- has always refused any contact with me, even when we were still raising a minor child. He would not talk to me about her.  He's basically never talked to me since we separated 34 years ago. Which is okay now. I have moved far beyond that relationship.
Just now, however, when I remembered he carved his first Halloween pumpkin because of my coaxing him to do so, then remembering his boyish delight in carving that pumpkin, I remember the love I felt for him. This is my super power.  I love around anything and everything. 



his first jack-o-lantern

When I was a newlywed, Halloween arrived two months after the wedding. I learned, astounded, even aghast, that my now-ex had never carved a pumpkin. Growing up in a family of six kids, as I did, his dad would buy one pumpkin and the six kids would watch him carve it. My dad always bought a pumpkin for each kid in the family, one for himself and we all carved our own pumpkins together. Then we lined them up on our long mantel in living room, were delighted to light the candles within and sit in the dark and watch our jack-o-lanterns' flickering light dance on the walls of our living room. So, newly wedded, I bought two of the largest pumpkins I could find and my ex got to carve his first-ever Halloween pumpkin. Our wedded bliss never really launched but I was very charmed by his endearing delight as he carved his first-ever Halloween pumpkin, age 30, a lawyer, with the thrilling eager delight of a little kid.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

hmmmm

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. ~~ Carl Jung

find my way under most complicated sitch

The human being is led to a specific set of parents, but not only because he himself is attracted to those people. High exalted beings are also involved and working on this, because at the current stage of development they have taken this task upon themselves to order karmic relationships in a way as to be true and just. So, if occasionally the parents apparently appear not to belong with the children, or it seems to be so for the children, we need not look for an error or injustice behind this seeming contradiction. For in this might often be found the good, in that a human being might have to find his way under the most complicated circumstances and among the strangest relationships, to learn from this.
Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 108  – Die Beantwortung von Welt- und Lebensfragen durch Anthroposophie – Breslau (Wroclaw), December 2, 1908 (page 61)
Translated by Nesta Carsten-Kr├╝ger

Thursday, October 26, 2017

the lathe of hell

I graduated from law school in 1979. Got married then, moved to the now-ex's home town in a very red state. Had my baby and stayed home with her for about 18 months. I was working when I got pregnant but I had a very tough pregnancy and had to quit working while pregnant. And then I could not tear myself away from my baby and my ex had a big shot job. Women pay a price, esp back then -- it aint all that much better now, eh? -- for staying home. It was very hard to get back into the game. By then a single mom with a toddler. I got jobs, but lousy ones. I networked and worked all the time at improving my lot. And then one day, in late eighties, a lightbulb went off. It was one of those deeply visceral, intuitive knowings: the world of work and money had changed. There were fewer and fewer middle class jobs. I knew then, around 1988, that the lathe of evil, energized by the conservative drive that began to undo the New Deal as soon as the New Deal was enacted, had been busily, slowly, turning their lathe of evil to get us to where we are today and get us to wehre they want to go. And they aint taking us to heaven, only a heaven for the elite.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

an unhealed part of myself


Swimming has always been meditation for me, with some qigong thrown in. Sometimes I move through my body as I have been taught by my qigong master. He said it is not necessary to do the movements, that one can mentally move one's qi.So I do the small universe and the large universe, sometimes, as I swim.

Swimming is great meditation, at least for me.  My Vipassana training tells me to ignore my thoughts and focus on my body part by part. I focus on my body in different order than when sitting in a meditation hall with others but all I do is focus on my body and I have almost no thoughts of anything else.

But when I do think of someone else it is usually me juding someone. I might think of someone in my life who has disappointed me and then I watch my thoughts go on to silently review that person's faults. Lately, happily, I let go of those thoughts and return to my breath, to moving my legs hard while moving my arms as fast as I can.

And here is a great lesson while swimming that I am finally beginning to crack.  Other swimmers sometimes do things my monkey mind does not think they should do. They should not get in my lane when they swim fast. My lane is a slow lane. They should not get into my lane if there are a couple empty lanes. Now I usually catch such thoughts and let them go and get back to pumping my legs for a faster backstroke. Or, sometimes, I do a lazy back float up and down so I can squint at the sun, slow down and behold the sky. Soon, I have forgotten the person in the next lane doing some weird kick and not quite swimming.

More and more, I either ignore what others do while I swim or I move away from such judgmental thoughts more and more quickly.

And the reason I am growing ever more adept at shrugging off my judgmental thoughts is I am loving myself more. There there, little Tree, be happy. Love yourself, I tell myself. Those others do nothing wrong and you can just go with the flow, which is an apt metaphor for a swimmer.

grateful to those who treat us badly

We should be grateful to people if they treat us badly,
because then we can exercise our forces of tolerance.
We should try to love these people anyway, and we’ll then notice that this is the right thing to do. 
~Rudolf Steiner  

isn't she loverly?

This is my daughter, Katie Kreifels and, I think, her sweetie, Christopher J. Devine.  They look very happy and gorgeous, don't they?

Monday, October 23, 2017

love with no place to go


Grief, I keep needing to learn, is love. It's all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

He's gone: only the shadow knows the deets

Heard this in lobby of my building while waiting for a ride: I wasn't eavesdroping me and the guy I overheard were inches apart. I could not NOT hear him.

He said, into his smartphone, "He's gone. He's over. We won't be seeing him again. Cops stopped him, he had dealer amount of drugs on him, he tried to run, they found two loaded guns on him, a parole violation. He's gone."

I squirmed. I wanted to know a lot more of that story. Were they friends? Cohorts in crime? Does the speaker on the phone live in my building? This man spoke with no emotion so I could not decide if he cared about the gone guy busted for multiple felonies or if he didn't care and was just reporting some facts. I wondered if the man lives in a world peopled by violence, drug dealing or if he just knows people in that world.

as my dad used to say, only the shadow knows

beams of love

We are put on earth a space to learn to bear the beams of love
~
William Blake

Me, I refer to 'beams of love' as love rays. Same difference?!

Monday, October 16, 2017

#MeToo again and again

I have to many stories of sexual harassment and/or abuse to post on FB so here are some more:


#MeToo again and again. Then there was the time my boss for my first full time job post-college, before heading to law school, asked me, when we had been working late, if I wanted to have dinner and he would drive me home. I said yes. I lived very far on public transit from downtown Chicago and I accepted more for that ride than dinner. But no dinner was offered. Instead he took me to a movie and I blithely went in, thinking 'ok, we'll see a movie and this place must sell at least hot dogs'. Downtown movie theaters in Chicago were fancy places. In those days (1975-76) new movies would only show downtown for awhile and move to neighborhood theaters after some weeks. I had almost never gone to a downtown movie theater and had not noticed that the one we entered was any different.

It was a porno theater, which may have been while almost no one was in it at dinner time. We sat in the middle of a long row. As soon as the lights went down and naked bodies appeared on the screen, I jumped out and fled. He ran after me offering, in his thick accent (he was German) "I will still take you home". As if. I demanded cab fare and demanded a lot more than the cab would have been. Then took the bus so I would calm down before I got home and faced my dad. I did not tell my dad about that porno theater interlude but I might have if I had gotten home fast.

Workplace harassment, right? I had been just about to quit when that happened, because it was time to move to MN to go to law school but Peter fired me. He had always been a jerk, blowing up in anger all the time. He once pulled the old time phones that were installed and hardwired into the walls out of the wall and threw it at me when I reminded him that we had agreed when I got hired that I would not do coffee. He was so furious when he learned that since he fired me, I got sixteen beautiful weeks of unemployment insurance. He even called unemployment and said he would take me back so he didn't have to pay but the unemployment people said no way. Unemployment asked me if I was only going to law school because I had lost my job -- another kind of misogyny, eh? -- so I sniffled and said "I don't know" because I wanted that sixteen weeks of checks. I also wanted payback to Peter, that boss.

memories. . . and then there was the time. . . . . once while house shopping, I spent a long evening looking at houses with a realtor. He was going to make a nice commission when I made my decision so when he said "I'd like to stop and guy you a drink", this naive dope and no longer a kid thought he was schmoozing to be sure I stuck with him for his commission because I was so clearly going to be buying a house. But, no, he thought my agreeing to the drink meant I had agreed to have sex with him, which he did flat out tell me as he tried to stroke me in that bar. I was out in is car and this was pre-Lyft life so I still let him drive me home. He did not get my sale.

and then there were harassments and assaults too dark to surface on FB -- yes, I do draw some lines.

I sometimes say, altho I almost never discuss my breasts these days, that my breasts went from a flat chest to a 36C overnight when I was in the sixth grade. Yes every boy in my world noticed and many of them ogled me or even commented. Worse, to child me, was when adult males would drive by as I walked to and from school and shout ugly stuff at me about my bosom and my sex appeal. This frightened me. Teenage boys did this too but the adult males were the really frightening ones. My breasts got bigger as I got to h.s. but I did go to an all girl school. Boys groped me at dances sometimes but not so much because these were always dances with nuns and/or priests as well as parental units chaperoning, eh? Once a boy, maybe 12, saw me in an ally near my home walking to church and he circled back just so he could grab one of my breasts -- for a three second grab. What did he get out of it? I was so ashamed, as if I had done something wrong. He circles around me, no longer having the advantage of surprise to catch, as he kept asking for, another feel. This was maybe 75 yards from our church and on a Sunday! I never took the ally shortcut after that!

And then .. . I could recount more examples of sexual harassment but I'd getting down to the ordinary shit virtually all women experience of oglilng, inappropriate comments . . like guys in law school would actually, loudly and openly discuss my body in front of me as if it was part of their commons and none of their beeswax. In line in our graduation robes, one pig law classmate said "You would be so beautiful if you just lost ten pounds".. . . . . Even after I got fat, which was not until my late thirties, some men, altho fewer as time unfolded, make comments, passes, even just demand sex.

It aint easy being green or female. Or human.

Speaking of green, I went out drinking on St. Patrick's Day just once in my whole life, in my first year of law. I went to downtown St. Paul MN to some Irish bar or another and while I was looking at the songs on the juke box because I was uneasy being in a bar, never was into bars and I was trying to fit in and failing, some male unknown to me came up to me and twisted one breast so hard that I seriously rushed to the restroom to see if he had broken the very tender skin of my nipple. I didn't see him either: he must have been quite practiced because he moved in and was gone so quickly that I didn't see him, only felt his sadistic attack.

This isnt' my story but a married female classmate in law school got pregnant unexpectedly near the beginning of our second year. The law school faculty, all lawyers so they knew the law, asked her to come to a full faculty meeting to discuss her pregnancy. She showed up with a lawyer who reminded those pigs - one female prof in my entire law school career -- of the law, assuring them the client would sue if forced to withdraw from law school, which is what the faculty had insisted she had to do. They said "No one can go to law school while pregnant". Needless to say, they did not force her out and she did just fine. Some of them had the poor judgment to suggest she abort. Lawyers! And, of course, several law professors were ally cats with their female students, sleeping with women students -- not all of them, just a few rotten apples. Once on a Moot Court field trip, where the school flew our Moot Court team to some city, put us up in hotels for the competition, once again I found myself in a bar with a bunch of males, including one law professor, the most noted Lothario on our faculty. He pitched his woo at me and draped his arm around me as we went up to the floor of our hotel rooms. Lucky for me, I was sharing with that one female law prof, there, I think, to chaperone me. She was asleep but I told Bill that I needed to get something in my room and he was so much older than me, he probably thought I meant my diaphrahm (sp?), and he did not know I never had one ever. Next day he pulled me aside to ask what happened and I lied to him. I concede he was very attractive, very charming.

the good that binds us

The good that binds us is Love, it comes from our Soul, it flows through our center, and connects us with everything.
--Alex Grey

Sunday, October 15, 2017

never in front of others!


Once while I was spending time with a new friend, also a Waldorf parent, with three kids to my one, she remarked that my daughter seemed so happy and she marveled over the fact that she had never seen my daughter quarrel with me. My daughter was maybe 13 and 14. I said "Oh, she quarrels with me but I was raised to believe quarreling in public or in another's home was ill mannered and I have passed that standard along to my daughter. She quarrels with me, just never in front of others." That's all I said. I could also have said that this other mother was often openly critical of her children in front of me, my daughter and others. I could also have said I never criticized my daughter except in private. I wanted to point out that maybe her kids were often openly critical of her because, um, she was openly critical of them.

Once, when this other woman's daughter, who was a bit younger than mine, was wearing a new, skimpy piece of clothing she had bought without her mother's involvement, my friend openly ridiculed the girl, 13 or 14, for being too bad to pull off the look she seemed to be going for.

When her daughter had moved away, I said "I don't think you should criticize her, mock her, in front of me. It looks to me like she is trying on ideas of who she is, what it means to be attractive sexually. She's experimenting, as kids her age do."  I felt a hard pinch of my heart as I watched that middle school aged girl wither under her mother's sharp tongue.

I do not suggest I never said things my daughter was hurt to hear. I just virtually never said such things in front of anyone but her and I.

This woman shifted her behavior with her kids.  Many parents admired my interactions with Katie. So what did those parents and I miss, for apparently Katie hated me all along.

Steiner on evolution

Lecture by Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, October 2, 1916

In the lectures given here for some time it has been my task to draw attention to certain impulses, certain forces, which work in the souls of men and thence into all that these souls bring to expression in earthly life. I have pointed out how these impulses and forces developed at the dawn of modern spiritual life. Today, because I want to call your attention to a particular kind of modern spiritual striving, we will consider, once again, an important starting point for modern spiritual life, which we have already considered but which is one of the most important and essential of all. When we inquire into the forces that are at work in modern souls, we are compelled to recognize the importance and significance of this event in history. I refer to the whole destiny and development of the Order of the Knights Templar.

I should like, then, to put before you once more the picture of the Order of the Knights Templar in order to show how what proceeded from this Order worked on in broad streams which flow even into the feelings and perceptions of human beings of our own times.

We know that the Order of the Templars was founded in connection with the Crusades. It was, so to speak, an important accompanying phenomenon to that great event in history whereby the peoples of Europe sought in their own way to come nearer to the Mystery of Golgotha than they had previously been able to. The Order of the Templars was founded almost at the very beginning of the Crusades. Leaving on one side all that is known externally about the founding of the Order and the further course of its activity — you can easily read it in history books — we find that this Order of the Knights Templar, inwardly considered, expresses a specially deep approach to the Mystery of Golgotha on the part of modern humanity. First of all, a small number of souls who were faithful and devoted followers of Christianity gathered together at a place that lay near to the ancient Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and established there a kind of spiritual order. As we have already said, we will not consider now the more external side of the event, but will look at it from a spiritual point of view and turn our attention to what gradually began to live in the souls of the Templars.

In their blood, as the representative of that which distinguishes earthly Man, in their I, but also in all their feeling and thinking, in their very being and existence, these souls were, in a sense, to forget their connection with sensible physical existence; they were to live solely in what streams from the Mystery of Golgotha, and fight for the continuance of the strongest impulses that are connected with the Mystery of Golgotha.

The blood of the Templars belonged to Christ Jesus — each one of them knew this — their blood belonged to nothing else on Earth than to Christ Jesus. Every moment of their life was to be filled with the perpetual consciousness of how in their own soul there dwelt, in the words of Paul, “Not I, but Christ in me!” And in bloody and severe combats, in devoted work such as the Crusades demanded, the Templars lived out in practice what they had spiritually resolved. Words are impotent to describe what lived in the souls of these men, who might never waver in their duty, who, even if a three-times-stronger power confronted them on the physical plane, might never flee, but must calmly await death, the death that they were ready to endure in order to establish more firmly in Earth existence the impulse which went forth from the Mystery of Golgotha. It was an intense life of the whole human being in union with the Mystery of Golgotha.

And now, when such an intense life is lived in the right rhythms, so that it can take its place in the whole stream of cosmic and earthly forces, then something of real significance develops out of such a life. I say advisedly "of real significance." For when such a consciousness as this is placed inwardly, mystically, and with a certain rhythm into all that goes on in the outside world, then Man can experience again and again how his own inner being is brought into connection with the divine and spiritual. 

But something else, something that has still greater effect, is developed when this inner experience is brought together with the course of external history and placed into the service of the course of events. And it was intended that what lived consciously in the souls of the Knights Templar should be in harmony with what had to be done in the attempt to regain power over the sacred grave. A deeply mystical life developed in this way among those who belonged to this so-called Spiritual Order, an Order which on this very account could accomplish more for the world than other Spiritual Orders. For when in this way a life that is lived mystically is also in connection with the life going on in the surrounding world, then what is experienced mystically streams into the invisible and supersensible forces of the surrounding world of that human being. It becomes objective — it is not merely within his own soul, but works on further in the course of history. Through a mysticism of this kind, it comes about that an experience of the soul is not simply there for the single human being, but turns into objective forces which were formerly not there in the spiritual stream that carried and upholds humanity. These forces come to birth and are there. When a person performs his daily task with his hands or with implements, he places some external material thing into the world. With a mysticism such as was unfolded by the Knights Templar, something spiritual is added to the spiritual “effects” of the world. And inasmuch as this took place, humanity was actually brought a stage further in its evolution. Through this experience of the Templars, the Mystery of Golgotha was understood, and also experienced, at a higher stage than before. Something was now present in the world, in regard to this Mystery of Golgotha, which was formerly not there.

The souls of the Templars had however at the same time achieved something else. Through this intense inward penetration into the Mystery of Golgotha they had gained the power actually to attain Christian initiation by means of the historical event. Christian initiation may be attained in the manner described in our books, but in this case it was attained in the following way: their external deeds and the enthusiasm that lived in these deeds drew forth the souls of the Templars, so that these souls, apart from the body, outside the body, lived with the spiritual progress of humanity and penetrated in soul and spirit the secrets of the Mystery of Golgotha. Many and deep experiences were then undergone, and not for the individual soul alone but for all humanity.

Then, as we know, the Order of the Knights Templar increased and spread, and in addition to the immensely powerful influence that it possessed spiritually — more in a supersensible manner than through external channels — it acquired great wealth. And I have already described how the time came for these external treasuries, which the Knights Templar amassed to greater and greater extent, to be converted into temporal power. I have told you how, through a kind of initiation with the evil principle of gold, Philippe le Bel was chosen to be the instrument who should oppose the Templars. That is to say, he wanted in the first place to possess their treasures. But Philippe le Bel knew more than most men in the world. Through what he had experienced he knew many of the secrets of the human soul. And so it came about that Philippe le Bel could be a fitting instrument in the service of Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic powers whose aim and object it was to render ineffective the Templar Movement in the form it had first of all taken.

Philippe le Bel was, as we have said, the instrument of other, spiritual, Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic powers. Under the inspiration of these powers Philippe le Bel knew what it would have meant if, into the spiritual streams which flow through the world just as truly as do the outwardly visible events, if into these streams had been allowed to flow what the Templars had gained as knowledge of the Mystery of Golgotha and as feelings and impulses of will connected with that Mystery. What had thus developed must therefore be torn away from the normally progressive divine-spiritual powers; it must be turned into other paths. To this end it had also to be brought about that something which could only live in the souls of the Templars should be torn out of the individuality of the Templars themselves. Just as that which the Templars had experienced in connection with the Mystery of Golgotha did not remain with them as individuals but was placed out into the general evolution of humanity, so now something else was also to be removed, as it were, from the individuality and embodied in the objective spiritual stream. And this could only be accomplished by means of a particularly cruel deed, by means of a terrible act of cruelty.

The Templars were committed for trial. Not only were they accused of external crimes, of which they were most certainly innocent — as can be proved on historical grounds, if one is but ready to see the truth — but they were accused above all of blaspheming Christianity, of blaspheming the Mystery of Golgotha itself, of worshipping idols, of introducing paganism into the Mystery of Golgotha, of not using the right formula in the act of consecration at the Transubstantiation, nay, even of desecrating the Cross. Of all sorts of other crimes also, even unnatural crimes, were the Templars accused. And hundreds and hundreds of them were subject to the cruel torture of the rack.

Those who committed them for trial knew what this torture on the rack meant. The ordinary day-consciousness of those who underwent this torture was suppressed, so that during the torture they forgot, in their surface consciousness, their connection with the Mystery of Golgotha. But they had become acquainted — and this is the case with everyone who truly sees into the spiritual world — they had become acquainted with all the trials and temptations which beset a person when he really approaches the good divine-spiritual powers. With all the enemies who work out of the lower spiritual kingdoms and who want to bring Man down and lead him into evil, who are able to work in the impulses and desires and passions, and especially in hatred and mocking and irony against the Good, with all these the Templars had become familiar. In many an hour that was for them a sacred hour of their life, they had gained those inner victories that Man can gain when with open eyes he passes through the worlds that lie beyond the threshold of the world of the senses; for these worlds must first be overcome before Man can enter with strengthened powers into the spiritual worlds where he rightly belongs.

During their torture, the vision of the Templars that could look out over these spiritual worlds to which they belonged became clouded and dim; their surface consciousness was dulled, and their inner gaze was directed entirely and only to what they had experienced as something to be overcome, was directed to the temptations over which they had gained victory after victory. And thus it came about that, during the moments while they were actually being tortured on the rack, they forgot their connection with the Mystery of Golgotha, forgot how with their soul they were living in the spiritual and eternal worlds. And the trials and temptations which they had resisted and overcome stood before them like a vision while they lay stretched on the rack, and they acknowledged the very thing that each one for himself had overcome; they confessed it to be a custom within the Order. They confessed themselves to be guilty of just that over which they had again and again won the victory. Every one of these Templars was obliged to seem to be the man in him over which he had inwardly gained the victory, over which he had to gain the victory before, with higher forces, he could attain to the highest and holiest of all. (I speak of all true Templars — abuses can of course be found everywhere.)

All this the opponents knew. They knew that, just as on the one hand the Mystery of Golgotha had been placed out into the evolution of humanity as an influence for good, so now, in the same way, because the ordinary consciousness had been dulled, therefore what lived in this evil consciousness was by this means placed outside, objectified, and embodied in the evolution of humanity. It had become a factor in history.

Two streams were thus allowed to flow on into modern history: what the Templars experienced in their holiest moments, what they had worked out and developed within the progressing spiritual stream of humanity, but also what had been wrested from them by Ahriman-Mephistopheles, fetched up out of their consciousness in order to make it objective, in order to form it objectively and make it effective in the further progress of the centuries.

At this point a simple-minded person might easily put the question: Why do the divine-spiritual powers of providence allow such a thing to happen? Why do they not guide humanity through the course of history without Man's having to undergo such painful trials? Such a thought is “human, all-too-human.” It arises in the mind of one who can believe that the world would be better if it had been made not by Gods but by men. Many people may think this; they may think that, with their intellect, they can criticize the wisdom that works and weaves in the world. But such a way of thinking leads also to the very extreme of intellectual pride.

We human beings are called upon to penetrate into the secrets of existence, not to criticize the wisdom-filled guidance of the world. We must therefore also gain insight into the place and significance of the evil currents which are permitted by the wise guidance of the world. For if only the good were allowed, if good impulses alone worked in history, human beings would never be so guided in their historical evolution that they could develop freedom. Only through the fact that evil holds sway in the spiritual course of human history can humanity develop to freedom. And if the Gods were to turn away Man's gaze from evil, he would have to remain forever an automaton — he would never become free. Things are indeed so ordered in the progress of humanity that even that which causes the deepest sorrow is led at last to good. Pain is only a temporary thing — not that it is on that account any less great and deep. We must not deceive ourselves as to pain and fall a prey to some cheap mysticism that will not see the pain; we must be ready to partake in it, ready to sink ourselves in it, ready to pour it out over our own soul. But, at the same time, without criticizing the spiritual purpose and will of existence, we must also learn to understand how the most varied impulses of a positive and negative nature are introduced into the evolution of humanity in order that human beings may become not only good, but also free and possessors of their own impulses.

And so in the evolution and destiny of the Templars we see an impulse that is important for all the succeeding centuries of modern times. If it had been possible for the purpose of the Order to continue to be lived out with the intensity and strength with which it was at first lived out by the great Templars, succeeding humanity would not have been able to bear it. The speed of evolution had, as it were, to be checked; the stream had to be held back. But in this way it was made more inward. And so we see how, in the two streams we have indicated in modern history, deep inwardness of life developed alongside external materialism. For the Mephistophelian impulse, which Mephistopheles-Ahriman through his instrument Philippe le Bel dragged out by force, lived on. It lived on, together with many other things, in the materialistic thoughts and feelings of men and in all the materialistic impulses which appeared among mankind from the 15th to the 19th century. Hence it has come about that what we know as materialism has spread itself so widely over the soul and spirit of Man and over all his social life and has prepared the ground for the karma of our own time.

Had things not gone in this way, had the stream of materialism not been allowed to spread so far and wide, neither could, on the other hand, our connection with the spiritual world have become so deep and intimate. For indeed what the Templars had accomplished by entering in a living spiritual sense into the Mystery of Golgotha was not lost. It lived on. And the souls of the Templars — after their terrible experiences on the rack, fifty-four of them were put to death — the souls of the Templars who had under these circumstances passed through the portal of death were now able to send down from the spiritual world streams of spiritual life for those who lived in the succeeding centuries.

Fifty-four Templars were burned at the stake in 1312. Fifty-four souls went up into the spiritual worlds. And from that time on, supersensibly and invisibly, without its being outwardly perceptible to the facts of history, there began in European humanity a spiritual development that owed its origin to the fact that individual souls were continually being inspired from the spiritual world with what these fifty-four souls carried through the gate of death into the spiritual world.

Let me give you an example of this. It is one I have mentioned before, but I will now deal with it in more detail from another point of view.

Before the tragedy broke out in the Order of the Templars — a whole century before the year 1312 — Wolfram von Eschenbach composed his poem Parzifal. Working alone, or in a very small circle, Wolfram von Eschenbach produced this song about a soul who strives by means of inward purification to attain the life which the Knights Templar also held before them continually as their ultimate goal. In a wealth of picture and in wonderful imaginations, Wolfram von Eschenbach unrolls before our view the inner life of Parzifal, who was for him the representative of the Templar ideal. 

Now let us inquire: Do we see any important external result of Parzifal — who was for him the representative of the Templar ideal — in the historical development of succeeding times? We do not. In the further history of European humanity it was, as we know, Richard Wagner who first presented Parzifal again, and then in quite another way. But the spiritual power, the spiritual impulse, that was able to flow into the soul of Wolfram von Eschenbach — at that time still from the Earth — became in succeeding centuries for many others an inspiration from the spiritual world. And one who is able to perceive the mysterious connections between the life on Earth and the spiritual life knows that the impulses which were carried into the spiritual world through the destiny of the Templars flowed also into the soul of Goethe. It was not to no purpose that Goethe began in the eighties a poem which he never finished. It is significant that he began it, and equally significant that even he was not strong enough to bring to actual expression the mighty thought of this poem. I refer to the poem The Mysteries, where the Brother Mark goes to the lonely castle of the Rosicrucians and enters the circle of the Twelve. Goethe grasped — in his own way, of course — the fundamental thought which is also contained in Parzifal, but he was not able to complete it; and we may see in that very fact an indication of how all of us are standing within the same spiritual development which Goethe experienced in its beginnings, and at which we must work and work and work that we may be able to give form to these beginnings and make further and further progress in the penetration of the spiritual world. Goethe devoted to the first beginnings of this spiritual development the best powers of his existence; he let them flow into his Faust, where he set out to portray Man's connection with the forces of the spirit, which include for him the Ahrimanic-Mephistophelian forces.

One who observes history concretely in its spiritual development can see quite clearly that into the soul of Goethe on Earth there followed from the spiritual world what the Templars — whose manner of death had been so cruel and so significant — had carried up into the spiritual worlds and, just because they had gone through the gate of death in this way, could pour down as inspiration into the souls of men. It flowed down, and if with more significance into Goethe's soul, it was not into his soul alone but into many others; and it continues to live, although but little noticed by human beings. The spiritual element in Faust itself still almost escapes notice in the outside world! It lives on, however, and is moving towards an ever richer life, and will have to become more and more fruitful if humanity is not to drift into decadence instead of evolving in an upward direction. But this lies in our own choice. In our age of time it is given into Man's own hands. The choice is set before him — and will be so more and more definitely — as to whether he will fall into decadence and continue to hold to materialism, or strive upwards into the spiritual worlds.

For we human beings, as we live on Earth, it is only in our physical body that we live a life connected with the Earth. The body that is woven of light and sound and life and is within this physical body — the so-called ether body — partakes not only in the life of Earth, but in the life of the cosmos. And when a human soul descends from the spiritual worlds to enter existence through birth, then, already before the event, forces are directed in the cosmos in a right way for the building up of the ether organism of the human being, even as the physical body of Man is built up from the physical forces and physical substances of Earth.

In the very simplest of Man's ideas lives pride and arrogance, and this is especially true in our materialistic age. In this materialistic age, parents actually believe that they place their children into existence all by themselves. And as materialism spreads, it will be more and more believed that it is the parents alone who bring the children to existence. Seen spiritually, it is different. Human beings here on Earth only provide the opportunity for something spiritual to come down to them. What a human being can do as a part consists solely in this: he can make ready the place by means of which an ether body that is being prepared from out of the far spaces of the cosmos may be able to sink down to Earth. This ether organism of the human being is just as much an organized entity as is the physical organism. The physical organism — we see how it has head, arms, hands, trunk, and all the parts that the anatomist and physiologist discover — for spiritual vision, this physical organism is shone through and glowed by the ether organism. 

The physical organism breathes in air, and breathes out air. The ether organism breathes out light, and this light it gives to us. And when it breathes out light and confers the light upon us, we live by means of its light. 

And it also breathes in light. As we breathe in and out air, so does our ether body breathe in and out. And when it breathes in light, it uses up the light, just as we use up air physically. (You may read of this in a passage in my Mystery Dramas where this secret of the ether world is unfolded dramatically.) The ether body breathes in light, uses up the light, and changes it into darkness, and can then receive into this darkness the sound of the worlds that lives in the Harmony of the Spheres, can receive into it the impulses of life. As we receive physical nourishment, so does the ether being that lives in us breathe light in and out. As we use up in us the oxygen of the air and make carbonic acid gas, so does the ether body use up the light, shooting it through with darkness, so that it appears in colors, so that the ether body shows itself to clairvoyant vision in waves of color. And while the ether body prepares the light for the darkness and thereby carries on an inner work of breathing, it lives, in that it receives this sound of the worlds and changes the sound of the worlds into the life of the worlds.

But what we receive in this way as our ether body comes down to us from the wide spaces of the cosmos, and it comes at certain times, from the far spaces of the cosmos. It is today not yet possible to show in all detail how the human ether body draws downwards on the paths of light when these paths are guided in a particular manner through the constellation of the stars at the time. For that to be possible, human beings will have to lift themselves to a higher stage of morality. For today, this mystery of the in-drawing of the human ether bodies on the paths of the light and on the paths of the sound of the Harmony of the Spheres would be misused by human beings in the most terrible way. For what is contained in this mystery would, if people of lower impulses wanted to acquire it, give parents unlimited power over the whole of their descendants. You will accordingly understand that this mystery of how the ether bodies come to the human beings who are incarnating — of how they come on the paths of light and on the paths of sound from out of the Harmony of the Spheres — will have to remain a mystery for a long time to come. Only under certain quite definite conditions can one learn anything of this mystery. For the failure to comply with the conditions would mean, as I have said, that parents could acquire a hitherto unheard-of power over their offspring, who might be completely deprived of all independence, of all personality, and of all individuality, and have the will of their parents thrust upon them. Wisely is this mystery hidden away for mankind in the unconscious and takes its course there in a good and healthy way, working through the will of the wise world-guidance.

Our ether body travels quite a different path from our physical body. After we have passed through the gate of death we still carry, as you know, our ether body for a few days; then we have to give it back to the cosmos. In the spiritual, in the cosmos, our ether body remains only as a picture for our own further life between death and new birth. It is incorporated into the cosmos in the most varied manner — in one way in the case of people who die early through some accident or otherwise, and in a different way in the case of those who attain maturity. But when one looks across into the world that lies beyond the threshold, one knows that both — the early death as well as the later death — have great significance in the whole cosmic connections. For our ether body that we give up continues to work on spiritually.

Fundamentally speaking, seen from a deeper aspect, we all grow old. Physically, one dies earlier and another later; seen from a spiritual aspect, we all become old alike. If we die early, our physical body comes to an end early; but our ether body continues to live on for the cosmos, and just because we have died early, our ether body has other functions in the cosmos than if we had died only later. When we count up the years that we live in physical and in ether body as human beings — we have the deeds on Earth that we accomplish in the physical body, and we have what we accomplish in the ether body also after death, and the life that we live there not for ourselves but for others, for the world — when we add up all this in its years, then we find that everyone lives to about the same age.

But when an event takes place such as happened with the Templars, something different again comes about from when it is only a case of the individual lives. The life that we lead as an individual remains within our own person; but there is also the life that can be objectively separated from us — as in the case of the Templars. On the one hand, what they were able to do for the continuance and spread of the Mystery of Golgotha and, on the other hand, what happened through the working of Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic forces for the impulse of modern materialism, all this also continues to live on as fragments of the ether body. But it is incorporated into the whole process of history. So that some of the life Man lives in his ether body lives on further with the human individuality, while some of it is incorporated into the course of history — when it has been torn away from the human being in the manner described. And the ether body is the means or medium whereby what a person lives in his soul so objectively that it can go out of his soul — whereby this may have, as it were, something to hold on to for its further life — it is the ether body that provides for this.

What flowed into the etheric world from the spiritual impulses of the Templars lived on etherically, and through this continued etheric life many souls were prepared to receive the inspirations that I have described as coming out of the spiritual world from the souls of the Templars themselves. That is what has actually been taking place in modern times.

Into what flowed from the souls of the Templars, however, there began to enter more and more that which flows from the Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic impulses and is steeped in the Mephistophelian element, and which was inaugurated on the racks where the Templars were tortured, inasmuch as they were forced under torture to speak untruths about themselves. This fact — not alone, but as one of the spiritual grounds of modern materialism — has to be understood if one would acquire an inner understanding of modern materialistic evolution.

And so it came about that in modern times, while certain individuals were inspired with high spiritual truths, the general culture became more and more materialistic in character; and the eye of the soul grew dim for what now surrounds us spiritually and also for whither we go when we pass through the gate of death and whence we come when we pass through the gate of birth. More and more was the gaze of Man turned away from beholding the spiritual, and this was true in all the different spheres of life — the spiritual sphere, the sphere of religion, the sphere of social life. More and more was the gaze directed to the material world as it showed itself to his senses. And the result has been that, since the rise of modern times, mankind has fallen into a great many errors.

Again let me say I am not criticizing the fact, I am not passing judgment on it. Through the fact that errors found their way into human evolution, human beings have to experience these errors, and they will gradually come to see them — and, in overcoming them, get stronger forces than they could have had if the path to their goal had been implanted in them automatically. And now the time has come when this insight must be developed and human beings must see how, in all that is material, live impulses to error. Today Man is called upon again and again to make up his mind to see through the errors and overcome them.

It is not our intention to lay blame on anything that has happened in history; what we want to do is to look at history objectively. The events of modern times have brought it about that Man's thoughts and feelings run their course only in accordance with external physical reality, only in accordance with what Man experiences between birth and death. Even the religious life has gradually assumed a personal character, inasmuch as it aims merely at putting into Man's hand a means whereby he may find blessing in his own soul. The religious life of more modern times, that turns Man's gaze more and more away from the concrete spiritual world, is really permeated with the materialistic outlook. As has been said, we have no intention of casting aspersion on any event in history; the events of history must however be described in such a way that they may be rightly understood — that is, if the coming generation is not to fall into decadence but to take a turn and move upwards.

We see the stream of materialism flow on and, side by side with it, the parallel hidden stream; and then at the end of the 18th century we come to a tremendous event, an event the influence of which was felt throughout the whole of the 19th century and right on into the present time. At the end of the 18th century, we see the French Revolution spreading its currents far and wide over European civilization. Many things took their course in the French Revolution as the historians have described them. But in addition to the understanding one has already of the French Revolution, in addition to the impulse one has recognized as proceeding from it and working on in European history, we must also understand the spiritual effects of materialistic Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic impulses. The French Revolution strove for a very high ideal. (As I said before, we are not concerned with finding fault but with understanding the events of history.) The French Revolution strove for a very high ideal; and it strove for it in a time upon which still fell the shadow of the event I have described today, the event which left Mephistopheles-Ahriman mighty to send forth into European life the impulse of materialism. And we may say of the best of those who were responsible for the French Revolution that they believed in the physical plane alone. It may be that in their consciousness they thought they believed in something else. What people profess with words is however of little account; the important thing is to have a live consciousness in one's soul of what is really working in the world; and those who were responsible for the French Revolution were conscious only of the physical plane.

They strove, it is true, for a high ideal, but they knew nothing of the trinity in Man: the body that works by means of the etheric principle in the human being, the soul that works through the astral principle, and the spirit that works in Man to begin with through the I. At the end of the 18th century, Man was already regarded in the way that he is regarded — to his lasting harm and loss — by modern materialistic physiology and biology. That is to say, even if in a religious way men had some notion of a spiritual life and perhaps also talked about it, their gaze was really only actually directed upon what is lived out here in the physical world between birth and death — what is lived out here, that one can understand. (Even that of course is not yet entirely understood; nevertheless one can understand it when one directs one's attention solely to the external physical body.) What lives in the entire human being: that can only be understood when it is known that with the external physical body are united an etheric principle, an astral principle, and an I-principle. For even while we stand here in the physical world, there is living in us something that is of soul and spirit and that belongs to the spiritual world. Body, soul, and spirit are we here. And when we have gone through the gates of death, we shall again be threefold beings, only with another spiritual body. So that anyone who observes and studies Man living out his life as physical Man between birth and death is not studying the whole human being, and is bound to fall into error in regard to the whole human being.

The events that happen in the world must not be looked upon as erroneous in themselves. What makes itself manifest in the world is indeed truth; but the way in which Man regards it and turns it into deed and action often causes confusion. And confusion arose in the minds of men at the end of the 18th century, because everything was applied to the body, and ideals which only have meaning when Man is seen as a trinity were aspired to as the ideals for a purely physical “monon.” And so it came about that lofty and beautiful ideals were on everyone's lips in a time when men were not capable of understanding them, but only confused and falsified them, because they tried to comprehend them all together, believing as they did in the physical body alone. As a matter of fact, of the threefold ideal — Fraternity, Freedom, Equality — Fraternity is the only one that holds good for the physical body of Man. Freedom only has meaning when it is referred to the human soul, and Equality when it is referred to the spirit as it lives in Man, in the I. Only when it is known that Man consists of body, soul, and spirit, and when the three ideals of the end of the 18th century are referred: Brotherhood, to the body; Freedom, to the soul; and Equality, to the I — only then is one speaking in a sense and meaning that is in accord with the inner meaning of the spiritual world.

Brotherhood we can develop, inasmuch as we are physical human beings bearing physical bodies of the Earth; and when we accept Brotherhood into our social order, then for the social order on the physical plane Brotherhood is a right and true thing. Freedom Man can acquire only in his soul, inasmuch as it is with the soul that he incarnates on Earth. And Freedom only prevails on Earth, is only possible on Earth, when it has reference to the souls of men who live on the Earth in their social orderings, to the end that they acquire the faculty of holding the balance between the lower and the higher forces. When we are able, as human beings, to hold the balance between the lower and the higher forces in the human soul, then we develop the forces that can live here between birth and death, and the forces too that we shall need when we pass through the gate of death. So that alongside of the social order a soul order is necessary on Earth, wherein the souls of men may take their places individually and be able to develop the forces of freedom, which they can carry with them through the gates of death, but which they will only carry with them if, already here in this life, they prepare themselves for the life after death. That a true intercourse between souls shall be established on Earth, that souls shall be able to develop the forces of freedom, that all human events, great and small, and all attempts to give form to human activity and creation shall have as their aim Man holding the balance in his soul in regard to what lives and works spiritually — this must come to be an ideal. Man becomes free when he is in a position to acquire these forces of the soul in the external physical world, as he can acquire them, for example, when he is able to follow the beautiful forms that live in an art that really has its sources and beginning in the spirit. Man becomes free when there is an intercourse and communion between soul and soul of such a nature that the one soul is able to follow the other with an ever-growing understanding and with an ever-growing love. 

If it is a question of the bodies of men with which we are concerned, then Brotherhood comes into consideration; if it is a question of the soul, then we must look to forging those delicate and subtle links that arise between soul and soul, and that must find their way right into the structure of our life on Earth and must always work in the direction of engendering interest — deep interest in one soul for the other. For in this way alone can souls become free, and it is only souls that can become free.

Equality applied to the external physical world is nonsense; for equality would be uniformity. Everything in the world is undergoing change; everything in the world is compelled to be in number; everything in the world is obliged to come to expression in multiplicity and variety. To this very end is the physical world there, that the spiritual may go through a multitude of forms. But in all the multiple and manifold life of Man, one thing remains alike, because it is still in its beginning. The rest of our human nature we have carried in us since the Saturn time, the Sun time, and the Moon time; the I we have for the first time in this life of Earth. The I is only in its beginning. During the whole of our life between birth and death we come no further in the spiritual than to say to ourselves “I,” and to take cognizance of this I. We can only behold the I, either when through initiation we are outside the body here between birth and death, or when we have passed through the gate of death and it is given us to look back in memory on our Earth body and behold the I spiritually. But through this I all possible variety comes to expression here on Earth. And our life on Earth must be so constructed as to give possibility for all the variety that can enter Earth life in human individuality to come to expression. One human being manifests one individuality, a second another, and a third a different one again. All these individualities in their several workings are focused in a point, the point of the I. There we are alike, and through this focus-point where we are alike can pass all that we communicate to one another as spirits. The fact that we all have this I-point where we are alike gives the possibility for the development of mankind of a community life. That which is different in all of us passes through what is alike. Consequently, it is not the establishment of what is contributed by the single human individual to the whole stream of cosmic spiritual evolution that is achieved in spiritual equality; rather it is so that because what has placed us each into a different kind of life passes through our I, through the spiritual in us, it becomes something that can be shared by all, it flows on as a common good in the stream of cosmic evolution. Equality belongs properly to the spirit.

No human generation will understand how the three ideals of Fraternity, Liberty, and Equality can come to realization in the life of mankind unless they understand that Man carries in him this threefoldness of body, soul, and spirit. That people were unable in the 18th century and have continued to be unable throughout the 19th century to understand this was a result of the strength of the Ahrimanic-Mephistophelian stream which entered modern evolution in the way I have described. The 18th century mixed up Equality, Freedom, and Brotherhood, and applied all three to external physical life. In the way it has been understood in the 19th century, it can only mean social chaos. And mankind will have to drift further and further into this chaos, if they do not receive spiritual science and spiritual life, which will lead to an understanding of Man as a trinity and to a reconstruction of Earth life for threefold Man.

Man had to go through materialism. His forces would have been too weak for the times to follow if he had not gone through materialism. For strange and amazing is the evolution of mankind. Let us look back for a moment to an event of the Lemurian epoch. We find there a certain moment in evolution — it lies thousands and thousands of years back — when the mankind of the Earth was quite different from what it is now. You will know from the descriptions I have given in Occult Science of human evolution on the Earth that the various impulses entered into Man only gradually. There was a moment in evolution when what we today call magnetic and electric forces established themselves within Man. For magnetic and electric forces live in us in a mysterious manner. Before this time, Man lived on Earth without the magnetic and electric forces that have developed ever since, spiritually, between the workings of the nerves and the blood. They were incorporated into Man at that time. The forces of magnetism we will leave out of consideration, and a portion of the forces of electricity. But the forces which I will distinguish as the electrical forces in galvanism, voltaism, etc. — forces that have taken deep hold in the culture and civilization of our time — these forces found entry in that far-off time into the human organism and united themselves with human life; and this very fact made it possible for them to remain for a long time unknown to human consciousness.

Man carried them within him, and for that very reason they remained unknown to him externally. The forces of magnetism and the other electrical forces we learned to know earlier. Galvanism, the electricity of contact, which has a much deeper determining influence on the karma of our age than is generally realized, was, as you know, only discovered at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, by Galvani and Volta. People give far too little thought to such facts as these. Just consider for a moment! This Galvani was dealing with the leg of a frog. “By chance,” as we say, he fastened it to the window, and it came in contact with iron, and twitched. That was the beginning of all the discoveries that rule the Earth today by means of the electric current. And it happened such a little while ago! People do not generally stop to think how it is that mankind did not come to this knowledge earlier. Suddenly this thought emerges in a human being, in a perfectly miraculous way; he stumbles on it — as it were, perforce. In this materialistic age of ours, we naturally never stop to think about such a thing. 

And this is the reason why we can understand absolutely nothing at all of the real becoming of the Earth. The truth of the matter is as follows:

After mankind had passed the moment in the Lemurian time when it implanted into it, or received implanted into it, the forces that go through the wire today in electricity and work in an invisible manner in Man himself, after this time had passed, electricity lived inside the human being. Now, evolution does not proceed in the simple, straightforward way in which people are inclined to picture it. They imagine that time goes ever forward on and on into the infinite. That is an altogether abstract conception. The truth is that time moves and turns in such a way that evolution is constantly reversed and runs back. It is not only in space that we find movements in curves as in a lemniscate, but also in time.

During the Lemurian epoch, Man was at the crossing point of the lemniscate movement, and that was the time when he implanted into himself the principle of electrical force. He traversed the returning path in the Atlantean time and, in respect of certain forces, in the Post-Atlantean time, and arrived about the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century exactly at the point in the evolution of the worlds at which he was in the old Lemurian time when he implanted into himself from the cosmos the principle of electricity. There you have the explanation of how it came about that Galvani discovered electricity at that particular time. Man always goes back again in later times to what he experienced earlier. Life takes its course in cycles, in rhythms. At the middle of the materialistic age which had been developing ever since the 14th–15th century, mankind was standing at that point in the world through which he had passed long ago in the Lemurian epoch. And mankind as a whole in that moment remembered the entry of electricity into the human being, and thereupon as a result of this memory impregnated his whole civilization with electricity. The soul and spirit in Man found again what it had once experienced long ago.

Truths like this must be clearly envisaged again, for it is only with truths like this that we shall escape decadence in the future.

Under the influence of the inspirations of which I have been speaking to you today, certain minds came upon such truths. For the fact that people went on such paths was the result of the fact that many and different currents work in human evolution. If, for example, what the Templars wanted to attain had been the sole influence working in history, quite a different evolution would have resulted for Man. Through the fact that the other stream too — the Mephistophelian — has been intermixed with it (the Mephistophelian stream was of course also there from the beginning, but it was given new life by the destiny of the Templars), Man has been brought, in our time, into materialism just in the way that it has actually happened. These Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic forces are needed in the evolution of mankind. And, as I have said, certain great minds were led by the inspiration that comes from the Rosicrucian Temples and has its source in the spiritual world to recognize this principle of which I am here speaking.

Do not imagine that a great poet, a really great poet who creates out of the spiritual world, puts together his words in the superficial way that people often imagine they are at liberty to take them! No, a poet like Goethe, for instance, knows what is contained and implied in the Word; he knows that in the Word we have something that lets spirit resound through the person speaking. “Person,” did I say? Here we must remind ourselves that “persona” is a word that comes from the Latin for the mask that the actor carries and through which his voice sounds. “Personare” means to sound through. All this is closely connected with the evolution of the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Divine was the Word.” The Word was not in Man; nevertheless human personality is closely connected with it.

The whole evolution, as we have said, is carried forward inasmuch as not merely good forces are working, but others also. And a man like Goethe uttered in his Faust — even though in part unconsciously, nevertheless under inspiration — notable and great truths. When the Lord is conversing with Mephistopheles in the Prologue in Heaven, he says at last to Mephistopheles that He has no objection to his work and influence. He recognizes him and allows him his place in the evolution of the worlds. It is owing to him that there are such things as enticements and influences that must needs create what is evil. But then the Lord turns and directs his word to the true and genuine Sons of the Gods who bring forward normal evolution, and with whose working the working of the other stream is united. And what does He say to these true Sons of the Gods?

But ye, the genuine Sons of Heaven, rejoice!
In the full living beauty still rejoice!
May that which works and lives, the ever-growing,
In bonds of love enfold you, mercy-fraught,
And seeming's changeful forms, around you flowing,
Do ye arrest, in ever-during thought!

The Lord gives to His Sons the direct command to set in the world's places enduring thoughts! Such an enduring thought was placed into the world when the principle of electricity was implanted into Man, and Man was led back again to the enduring thought when he discovered the principle of electricity and implanted it into his materialistic civilization. Of immeasurable depth is the thought expressed in these lines:

May that which works and lives, the ever-growing,
In bonds of love enfold you, mercy-fraught,
And seeming's changeful forms, around you flowing,
Do ye arrest, in ever-during thought!

And it means a deep experience for the soul to feel that mystery of the “enduring thoughts.” For then we feel how in the world here and there the Eternal stands at rest in the form of an enduring thought, and we who belong to the world of movement are passing through what is being placed into seeming's changeful forms as enduring thoughts, as the beauty that weaves and works everlastingly reveals itself in order that we may comprehend it when the right moment comes.

And may a right moment also come for mankind in the near future, even as it is predestined to come if mankind is not to fall into decadence. May Man understand that he has to pass through the next point, which reverses materialism into its opposite, the point where the great thought of the spiritual world can ray into mankind. Preparation is now being made for this in those whose karma has allowed them to come to Spiritual Science. And it will be the continually recurring task of Spiritual Science to turn its work in this direction. For to the materialistic age that has found the enduring thought which in its newest form Ahriman-Mephistopheles has placed into modern evolution, to this materialistic age must be added what can be experienced in passing through a spiritual enduring thought. Spiritual Science must see to it that mankind does not omit to grasp this spiritual thought. Therefore also must we not grow weary in warning Man again and again, lest the moment of time for the comprehension of Spiritual Science slip by and be lost.