Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on the great annual festivals were not for edification, intended to caress the soul. In the course of his activities they increasingly took on the character of actual awakening lectures – awakening listeners from a sleep from which probably not all of them wanted to be so rudely awoken.
Thus the Christmas lecture, which Steiner held nearly 100 years ago, on 25 December 1919, begins with the sobering words: “When in recent years I have had to speak at one of the annual festivals, Christmas or Easter or Whitsun, I had to draw attention to the fact that especially on such occasions, these days we have no right to conduct such celebrations in the old customary way, forgetting all the pain, all the suffering of our times and only remembering at such times the greatest event that has occurred in earth evolution (…) We have the obligation to allow all the phenomena of decline in modern culture which grip humanity to stream into the event, even as far as the Christmas Tree. Today we are obliged to take even the birth of Christ Jesus into our hearts, into our souls in such a way that we do not leave out of consideration the frightful decline by which so-called cultured humanity has been gripped.” (GA 195) Today, this cultured humanity really seems to have been dragged down into this fearful decline.
Three challenges on the path of the Michael School
Today, we have to look up to “the greatest event that has occurred in earth evolution” while cognitively witnessing the misery of the present all the more intensively.
This is a leading goal and motif of a mantra which Steiner gave on 21 March 1924 for the Meditative Path of the Michael School1, namely, in the sixth lesson, the first mantra of which is:
“(…) But mindfulness of earthly needs
Maintains you as a human being.”
Without such contemplation, the Christmas festival threatens to become more of a numbing, luciferic-ahrimanic orgy of sentimentality and consumption.
The second mantra of this lesson ends with these words, as though pointing the way forward:
“(…) But love of values of the Earth
Will save your human soul.”
This by no means refers only to material values, but primarily the value of “the greatest event that has occurred in earth evolution”.
The third mantra of this lesson also ends with the inspiring words:
“(…) But earthly will, to spirit devoted,
Lets the divine in us hold sway.”
Who can honestly say that his will is devoted to the spirit? That he is on the point of grasping the divine in man and of letting it prevail? Yet this is precisely what is to be striven for in looking towards the festival before us. Mindful, in all modesty, of Christ’s words which are to be fulfilled: “You are gods” (John: 10:34).
We therefore stand before elemental challenges for a contemplative celebration of the Christmas Festival.
In the sense of these three challenges which appear on the path of knowledge of the School of Michael, we wish all our readers a true, beautiful and good Christmas Festival and a happy transition into the year 2019.
your T.H. Meyer
1 Der Meditationsweg der Michaelschule, edited by T.H. Meyer, published by Perseus Verlag, Basel, 5th ed. 2017. In English: The First Class Lessons and Mantras: The Michael School Meditative Path in Nineteen Steps, 2017.