A Reflective Summary by Joseph Rubano
We met in our little room in lower Brookside with the trees still in blazing colors blessing us through the windows. This was the second time this group has met and the feeling of connectedness was remarkable. This work offers the opportunity for people to come together to create a substance of relatedness that we feast on and take home with us as soul nourishment. Our theme was Gender/Feminine and Masculine. Signe Schaefer led us on a journey of the human being through time from Lemuria when the division into male and female first happened, to the Goddess of Willendorf and a time when a consciousness of the whole prevailed and the human being experienced his/herself as part of a unity, then to the time when the masculine became an important part of the story. It was a real gift to take in the stories of the Gods and Goddesses from Egyptian and Greek times, to see the common themes of loss, journey into the underworld, search and rebirth; to hear stories of Demeter and Persephone, Isis and Osiris, Mary and Jesus and then to hear and contemplate the New Isis Myth given by Rudolf Steiner. We had a very full schedule of talks and exercises. Many treasures were presented.
But it is the unexpected way that we meet where the magic lies; the unexpected ways that one piece of one person’s story or way of being is presented or made visible and then interacts with others. It is this subtle alchemy that is transformative. For instance, we were told of the inscription on the statue of the new Isis: “I am the human being. I am the Past, the Present, and the Future. Every mortal should lift my veil.” We were asked to look and feel into our life at a time where the ‘veil’ was lifted and we experienced a new way of seeing or being and we were asked to draw the event with pastels and share it with someone. We never know who the someone will be and the stories spoken and shared are always a surprise. The depth of sharing means that a piece of the substance of the person’s soul (along with the sweet smile and look in her eyes, the quality of her voice, the gentle swelling tear drop, the momentary light of knowing) enters into our soul and now that person lives in us and we are somehow changed. Or we are asked to form a lump of clay into a sphere with our eyes closed and then to form it into a likeness of the Goddess of Willendorf, again with eyes closed, taking peeks now and then as we pleased. We then passed our creations around the circle, each holding for a moment each other person’s clay sculpture, which was really more than a sculpted piece of clay: we placed a piece of our self into the hands of another trusting that we would be held carefully and sensitively.
Katinka presented her project on bread and what we got was a prayer. What we got was the absolute magic of waiting for the sourdough starter to come alive, the doubt and frustration turning into joy at the moment of birth. What we got was the care in which, like the fire-keeper of the tribe who keeps an ember of the fire alive, carries it from place to place, and blows it back into flame each morning and evening, she has tended the sourdough mother of all her bread for the past three years. We shared the holy communion of tasting her bread and awakened to special times in our own life when we broke bread with others. Her sacred relationship to bread has made sacred the breaking of bread in our own life, has transformed our relationship to bread. “It is not the bread that feeds us, what nourishes us in the bread is God’s eternal Word, his spirit and his life.”
Rie presented her project on Halloween night in the magic of candle light – five white paper sandbag lanterns (borrowed from the hundreds of lanterns lining the walking paths for the annual community celebration). She told, sang, acted out the story of her life in an enchanting way, not for the mind to follow, but for the part of our being below the mind and closer to our blood and breath to take in. The space was imbued with her creative impulses to such an extent that when she had us work in groups of three and four to act out different stanzas of a poem by Goethe we found a playfulness and ease of creating together that was surprising, fun and quite beautiful.
Our focus was on gender. We talked, did many exercises, shared how being male or female has affected our lives, how the masculine and feminine is expressed in us, moved curves and straight lines, made soft, gentle and dynamic movements in Spacial Dynamics. Practiced receptive and active gazes in observation exercises. Journeyed through time, in the realms of the gods and goddesses of the cosmos and the underworlds. And made daily contact with the natural world, observing, drawing and energetically dancing with trees. The pictures that were given of the human being and the human being’s relationship to the cosmos, to nature and to each other were in themselves life affirming and fulfilling. Everything that we do we do knowing that the way we meet, what happens between the people, the spiritual substance we build together is really what matters. In all that we do, we invite creative expression, whether it is drawing, writing, moving, or speaking, imbued with the living soul substance of our lives in a container of openness and acceptance made by our interest, holding and caring. And what happens is that parts of our being that are usually hidden from view, come out of hiding and are so happy to see and be seen.
One of the practices we do is to observe something carefully and then attend to the feeling that lives in the soul. Christian, a few days after the course, shared what lives on in his soul:
“I can feel, as I am sure we can each feel, the love of brotherhood and of sisterhood that has entered and graced our circle, perhaps even as the soul of our circle, as we have each opened and lived into our biography work with each other through our time together this week…. And what a gift it is to have this feeling, to miss you, and to feel it! For behind it is a subtle, spiritual presence I can detect only through the soft willingness to imaginably let it come into existence. Then, the feeling of your absence can lead like a golden thread to the awareness of a sun-sharing center of strength. “I miss you” can go towards the center of our circle, where within this feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood there is something like a sun glow of soul warmth radiating strength and support, love and connection to each of us in our present situation.”