April 14, 1935 was a Sunday . . . though no ordinary Sunday. It was what was later called Black Sunday*. On that very day there was a dust storm in the United States, as has never raged through the States before or since.
Many people believed that the end of the world had come! The damage was devastating.
Woodie Guthrie, inspirer of a generation of folk singers, sang in the Dust Storm Disaster** as an eye witness of the event: “On the 14th day of April of 1935, there struck the worst of dust storms that ever filled the sky (…) And through our mighty nation it left a dreadful track (…) It fell across our city like a curtain of black rolled down, We thought it was our judgment, we thought it was our doom.”
On that very same Sunday a spiritual dust storm raged through Europe and left behind no less serious devastation; its centre was in Dornach, Switzerland. On this day leading members of the anthroposophical society founded by Steiner in 1923, as well as the entire British and Dutch national societies, were expelled from the General Anthroposophical Society***. Steiner had hoped to strengthen the awareness of the eternal individuality in the hearts of his pupils, shining like spiritual suns amidst the diverse personalities and their conflicts.
Ita Wegman, Elisabeth Vreede, Eugen Kolisko, Willem Zeylmans und D.N. Dunlop – to name but a few – became the victims of a spiritual storm of fanaticism and petty-minded self-righteousness within the society. Personal impulses within the members triumphed over those of true individuality. The Over-Soul, as Emerson called the sun of individuality, was darkened by this storm. As Vreede, Wegman and Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz predicted, the events of this day gave enhanced strength to Hitlerism. The universal substance of anthroposophy was weakened. Since that day there have been anthroposophists outside the Anthroposophical Society. It is high time that this fact and its implications were truly recognized.
On May 30, 2015 there will be a commemoration in London of the 80th death day of D.N. Dunlop, one of the principal victims of the spiritual Black Sunday. Rudolf Steiner saw in Dunlop the ideal leader for the British Anthroposophical Society. Dunlop’s premature death, which occurred just six weeks after Black Sunday, stopped the unfolding of his fruitful and selfless endeavours for the blossoming of anthroposophy in the West. When Dunlop died on Ascension Day 1935, there was an earthquake in Quetta, Pakistan.
Discussing the egotistical aspects of personality, Dunlop, at age 28, wrote an article in the last volume of the Irish Theosophist entitled “By-paths of Occult Progress”. In it we find: “To paralyze this personality, to make it an obedient slave and to learn to take away our attention from it and listen to the voice of the Oversoul, – this is the science of true, practical occultism.”****
Like few others, Dunlop practised this very science in his many successful activities within the theosophical, later anthroposophical, movement as well as in the outer world.
This issue of The Present Age is dedicated to D.N. Dunlop in the hope that his supra-personal attitude and achievements may fructify and inspire anthroposophical work worldwide. May the devastating effects of Black Sunday be thoroughly transformed into the dawn of a coming White Sunday.
* It was Richard Ramsbotham who first drew my attention to Black Sunday.
*** The expel took place exactly 23 yrs after the Sinking of the Titanic (see April Calendar, TPAVol.1/No.1)
**** This article will be reprinted in the June issue of The Present Age.