I write this piece with some hesitancy and doubt, being only too aware of how little I know about the subject. Yet I feel that these present times are calling for a new type of eurythmy and that it is vital for all our futures that eurythmy should evolve to meet a new set of needs. It has often puzzled me as to why, among the various initiatives brought by Rudolf Steiner, only eurythmy has so far not been able to gain some measure of mainstream acceptance – why is this?
Before looking at some of the reasons why this might be so, it should be explained for those who are not yet familiar with eurythmy, that it is an art of movement developed by Rudolf Steiner in the early 20thcentury, so as to create a visible expression of the sounds, forms and dynamics that the human larynx makes while interacting with the environment during the activity of speaking and or singing. Why the larynx? It is because the larynx, like the foot or the hand (as we know from reflexology), contains within itself the whole map of the human being. You can see a performance of eurythmy from the stage of the Goetheanum in Dornach, here on YouTube.
In eurythmy the inner qualities of speech and song are made visible, and not the feelings evoked by what is heard. The performer becomes both the speech and the music so that the hidden inner life within them is revealed. This inner life is found in our etheric body.1
So eurythmy is thus an art of etheric movement, which as far as I am aware, makes the whole concept of eurythmy quite unique as a form of movement in the West. Steiner first developed eurythmy in 1912 and, like other developments he introduced (eg Waldorf education, anthroposophical medicine, and the birth of anthroposophy itself), it came about through a question brought to him by someone else. The questioner in this case was Clara Smits, who was looking for a career in movement for her daughter, Lori. Although Lori was still in her teens, Steiner began to introduce her to a new art of movement through exercises and imaginative pictures.
It soon became clear that eurythmy could be not only an art but also a health-promoting activity, and specific exercises for a wide variety of medical conditions were developed and came to be known as ‘curative eurythmy’or ‘eurythmy therapy’.
In 1919 the first Waldorf School opened and eurythmy was introduced as an integral part of the curriculum. Like the rest of the curriculum introduced by Steiner, the eurythmy lessons develop through the school in tune with the development of the children.
Since it was first created just over 100 years ago, eurythmy has developed into four main areas:
- As a performance art
- As a pedagogical activity within Steiner Waldorf schools
- As a curative therapy
- As Applied Eurythmy 2
I first came across eurythmy when I was a parent at my daughter’s Steiner school and saw performances of it by pupils and sometimes by teachers and/or visiting eurythmy troupes. Later, when I started to work at the school, I also became aware of curative eurythmy to help individual pupils. Later still, long after I had left the school, I was fortunate enough to receive curative eurythmy for some health issues of my own.
It’s curious how topics for this blog come about. I had no intention of writing about eurythmy until I received an email from a dear friend, Anne Davison, who said that she had for some reason felt moved to send me an article written about eurythmy by a friend of hers in New York. In my reply to thank her for the article, I said that: “… my view of eurythmy as a performing art is that it is severely hampered by two main factors: i) that for anyone who, like me, does not have an understanding derived from years of study and/or experience, it requires truly inspired performers if it is not to become a touch boring as a visual spectacle; and ii) that it really is time for eurythmists to evolve their art beyond the wearing of floaty coloured silk garments and to start to engage with the more visceral issues of today.”
I added that: “I have had a little bit of experience of curative eurythmy and I would like to have much more of it; I think it is a very profound and truly valuable addition to the healing repertoire.”
Anne replied to say that she agreed with me; she had gone to Dornach in the 1980s and had seen some performances of eurythmy. She thought that “men in floaty garments on their tippy toes was not such a good look. And, at a time when I was bent on ‘earth’ consciousness, I thought eurythmy was too ‘high’…(spiritual?).”
This accorded with my own responses to stage performances of eurythmy, and also reminded me of one performance that by contrast I had really enjoyed. It was at my daughter’s school and was by a group of boys from Class 12, who had been working with a newly-arrived eurythmy teacher to devise their own performance based on Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech. While a speaker spoke out the words, these teenage boys moved rhythmically, thumping the ground with wooden staves as though to summon the earth to witness them. It was powerful and moving, demonstrating how to harness aggressive young male energy in the service of a high ideal – truly eurythmy for our times. As we applauded and cheered at the end of the performance, we heard a teacher behind us say: “That’s not real eurythmy.”
It was interesting that the performance which I and many others had found so inspiring, vital and relevant was decried by some teachers as “not being real eurythmy”. A short while later, the eurythmy teacher who had devised this production with the boys left the school, no doubt having been made aware that her approach to eurythmy was not welcome there.
That this kind of subtle bullying was a wider phenomenon, by those who thought they knew how eurythmy should and should not be done, came home to me when I read the following in Dean Pollard’s blog about his experiences at Dornach:
“During the breaks and after a eurythmy performance, the greater portion of the audience and especially the eurythmy students and teachers, were all in conflict and discussion around what they witnessed in the eurythmy performance. ‘Was that really eurythmy or not?’, or ‘It was way too athletic to be eurythmy’ or: ‘Too astral to be true etheric movement.’ Get real, people! For god’s sake, stop and look at that behavior. If so many anthroposophists spend so much time disagreeing about what is Eurythmy or etheric movement, how the hell do you expect the rest of the world to understand it?….Do some of you even care if anyone else on this planet has a grounded experience of Rudolf Steiner’s work?”
Later in the same piece, Dean says:
“If there is one thing that my experiences as a eurythmist have taught me, it is that as soon as human movements tend toward dance-like, physically strong or athletic expression, the typically trained eurythmist will make statements and claims that what they are seeing is not ‘etheric movement’ but ‘physical movement’, or that what they are witnessing is ‘etherically bruising’. (…)
What is passed on as ‘etheric movement’ by eurythmy training centers can be easily summed up as, learning how to lead your movements from almost entirely the head and upper torso areas. Sports and athletic movements, due to the sheer physics of the activity, must utilize and lead from the lower movement center and in concordance with the torso and head, thus inhabiting, articulating and using the entire human body as an instrument of expression. That is the paradox … it has become an acceptable, common practice to access the trunk (lower movement center) only during the naughty humorous portion of a eurythmy performance, but not encouraged to be developed any further by eurythmy students as part of their training.”
The floaty clothes, the subtle snobbery and the exclusiveness builds a picture of the shadow side of anthroposophy that one comes across occasionally. It is found in those anthroposophical enterprises that have ignored Karl Konig’s advice that “Tradition is nurturing the flame, not worshipping the ashes.” It is the same phenomenon seen in too many Steiner Waldorf schools right now, which have failed to evolve and develop their practice to meet the needs of the times – and as a result are facing severe problems.
Why I find this to be so relevant brings us back to my friend Anne Davison, who is a highly-developed channel in her own right. This is an excerpt from the April 2019 channelling on her website:
“The etheric body – the first layer in the human energy field – is disturbed. Everyone feels they are being prodded and cajoled and disturbed, as though somebody or something is poking into their etheric field.
The way to think of the current times is that the earth’s etheric field is being nudged and prodded, cajoled by universal energies that wish to destabilise the earth, destabilise individuals, in order now for a new etheric to take its place on planet earth. There really is a sense that everything has wobbled and changed and disturbed the status quo.
When this status quo has been disturbed in the etheric around individuals, and around the earth, it does have a huge effect; it feels so uncomfortable. And this discomfort makes you feel that things have to change. The disturbance tells you that we can’t carry on like this; there has to be a different way of doing so many things. And it’s urgent. (…)
Values and structures within society, were set up on old understandings; on a hierarchical (and monetary) system where there could never be equality, where certain people had value and others didn’t. This must change. Equality has to be universal.
When the etheric realigns, resettles its new form and influence, individually and collectively, it changes our understanding of how we are in the world. We will feel comfortable in this new world, in the new order where there are no anomalies, and no exceptions and no ‘specials’. We can live our lives in the most productive, caring, understanding and accepting way, with no special religions or companies or people telling us what to do.
In the coming weeks and months the realisation that there is no consensus for the old politics, the old monetary system, the old work system, will be a revelation to many, many people who will truly be relieved not to be on the treadmill of the old regime. They will realise in some way that this is what they have been waiting for. A conviction to change the hearts and minds of other people in a new recognition of what it is to be human on planet earth.”
I started this piece by outlining my doubts about expressing views on something of which I have far too little knowledge. I’m also conscious of the hard struggle that eurythmists endure to keep their art going in the face of lack of wider recognition, limited financial resources and public incomprehension. I also have my own positive experiences of the very real benefits of curative eurythmy. So what I am saying here is not said to discourage eurythmists on their difficult path but on the contrary to encourage them to find new ways to communicate and celebrate the vital contribution that eurythmy can make in these times when the etheric is shifting for all of us. Floaty coloured silks won’t cut it any more…
1 According to Steiner, the etheric body is essentially an energy body that contains and forms the physical. It is this etheric body which maintains the physical body’s form until death. Next to the etheric body is the astral body, which provides us with awareness and self-awareness, our emotions and our feelings and intentions. Then comes the ego, the immortal and inalienable core of a human being, which goes with us from one incarnation to the next. When we go to sleep at night, the physical and etheric bodies remain in our bed, while the astral body and ego go into the spiritual world for rest and inspiration and remain there until we wake up, when they re-enter the physical and etheric bodies.
2 “Applied Eurythmy is the application of the principles and elements of Artistic, Pedagogical, and Therapeutic Eurythmy into an individual’s work and leisure activities. Whether you use a shovel or a ball, jog or sweep, drive or ride, bringing moments of focused attention to everyday habitual movement patterns in the light of Applied Eurythmy can engender a natural reverence, respect, and playfulness to your connection with the universal in and around you.” (Definition from Dean Pollard’s blog.)
45 responses to “Why has eurythmy not yet gone mainstream?”
Hear hear Jeremy. I completely concur!
Warm wishes Ann
Thank you for discussing hard-to-discuss issues. New tattoo artists who have no formal training are called ‘scratchers’ and they are resented by established artists. However, they bring new innovative art to the table. For example, when Madonna sings a Beatles song and then later the same song is performed by the latest boy band, that same song gets reintroduced to new generations, and they make it their own. It is a way to pass on songs that speak to younger people – the really good songs will probably withstand the test of time. Perhaps, there could be more teaching or setting the stage to embrace new ideas while some dances remain unchanged like doing a performance set in a certain era of time. This could allow for the artists and the audience to recognize movement within eurythmy itself (no pun intended). This is a larger topic that is going on all over between generations. It is an important one to have and to keep having . Thank you for taking it on. I would love to hear stories about how newness is being embraced in our community and what it took to get there.
Hi Jeremy and All,
My wife’s a Eurythmist (and a physician) – we’ve often discussed this question. I think it boils down to two things: lack of exposure and lack of understanding. Consider that to really appreciate eurythmy requires either an open mind or a spiritual perspective, the implications of which, you clearly lay out in your O.P. The underlying problem is still the battle of world views: a form of materialism or reductionism versus a spiritual understanding (not mere belief)… Reductionists don’t like the implications of eurythmy, whereas, (in my judgemental opinion 🙂 the “new agers” don’t go deep enough to get what’s really going on. However, have a patient – who holds any perspective – do curative eurythmy several times, and get a result, then things open up for them. It’s just going to take a long time … – Howard in Florida
Thanks for your comment, Howard. I agree that a spiritual perspective deeper than typical new age attitudes is required in order to ‘get’ eurythmy – but I still have a strong sense that eurythmy as an art form has simply not evolved in any meaningful way since the 1920s and this is a barrier to it finding wider understanding. Best wishes, Jeremy
As far as I know, Steiner said eurythmy should touch people by itself, one does not need to be a trained and experienced spectator… isn’t it the same with ballet, opera, and Shakespeare, we don’t have to be trained to enjoy a great performance.
I also think eurythmy is evolving, there are innovative eurythmists pushing the envelope with experimental and contemporary work…
The essential difference between tone and speech eurythmy was also described by Steiner (1924):
“What are we doing with eurythmy? We divide it into tone eurythmy and speech eurythmy. In tone eurythmy, we evoke in the child movements that correspond to the form of the astral body; in speech eurythmy we evoke movements that correspond to the child’s I-being [I-organisation]. We thus work consciously to develop the soul by bringing physical elements into play in tone eurythmy; and we work consciously to develop the spirit aspect by activating the corresponding physical elements in speech eurythmy.”
Click to access Essentials_of_Education-Rudolf_Steiner-308.pdf
Movement therapies, along with a variety of biofeedback and brain stimulation modalities, are gaining ascendancy in the practice of psychology and neurology today. It looks to me that we are on the verge of a huge step in human understanding and, potentially, into an expanded awareness of how the physical, brain-body-bound human being functions. The light is dawning on what is being called the “neuroplasticity” of the brain. A variety of interventions, both new and old, are being experimented with. Movement therapies, such as Tai Chi and Feldenkrais Exercises, along with a number of biofeedback and brain stimulation modalities, are being recognized as instrumental in altering multiple conditions. We are coming to understand that (and how) the brain can be self-programed. Neglected executive functions in the prefrontal cortex can be exercised (or exhorcized?) – they can be rebooted. But more importantly, we can now begin to explore the deeper question: what am I that I can re-program myself? Who is this programer? If “It” is altering my brain, where is “It” located? I think we may be moving into the lived-experience of our higher bodies.
An inconvenient truth exists here: much better, more direct, more precise, more therapeutically direct methods, of connecting with the etheric body were innovated 1955-1995. Many of these are documented in Best Practices in Energy Medicine, a book-booklet series written by a waldorf-trained person.
Chief among these methods is Inner Child work. Perhaps a new generation of Anthropops will be more open to this?
I was struck when Dean Pollard wrote “As soon as human movements tend toward dance-like, physically strong or athletic expression, the typically trained eurythmist will make statements and claims that what they are seeing is not ‘etheric movement’ but ‘physical movement’, or that what they are witnessing is ‘etherically bruising’. (…) What is passed on as ‘etheric movement’ by eurythmy training centers can be easily summed up as, learning how to lead your movements from almost entirely the head and upper torso areas.”
I’ve heard eurythmists vehemently make exactly those statements and claims that Pollard rejects, and I’m wondering if anyone knows their origin. Did Steiner say something to that effect about where movements should originate, or Marie Steiner, or some early eurythmist? And if so, why was it important to them?
Like Jeremy, I’ve had good personal experiences with eurythmy, but I can nod off quickly at eurythmy performances, even by very good artists. How much that is due to my ignorance and how much it might be due to eurythmy’s communication limitations as an art form for someone who isn’t already well-versed in its basic building blocks, I really don’t know.
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A very poor recording but a ‘must watch’ to restore faith in how brilliant eurythmy can be… ‘Hebrides’ by Else Klink
Thank you, Gary. I watched it with some interest and can see that it was superbly done. But it still speaks to me of art from a century ago – and in fact, I found myself bored by it after a few minutes. My fault, no doubt; but I would really like to see some eurythmy that tells me something of our own times. Best wishes, Jeremy
To me it was like “seeing”: the music, sometimes startlingly so– so maybe that’s what tone eurythmy aspires to?
Yes, of course – but why do it in the first place, when you can just listen to the music and form your own pictures? Mendelssohn has already done most of the work so that we can have our own experience of the “hidden inner life” of the music. What can eurythmy add to it?
Maybe the eurythmy is adding something like what a fresh orchestral interpretation can add — through it you can experience the music in a fresh way. It is still art from another century,as you say, but so is Shakespeare.
The difference is that Shakespeare can be produced in any kind of style, from traditional to avant-garde; and because of the universalism of Shakespearean themes, they are always relevant to our times. Perhaps it is because Rudolf and Marie Steiner are held in such high regard by anthroposophists that there has so far been little attempt to produce eurythmy in any other style than that which was laid down by them – and that is one factor today in holding back eurythmy from reaching beyond anthroposophists.
I may be wrong about this – a friend who is a teacher of eurythmy has written to me privately to say that there is some really interesting work being done in a few places but the main reason it is not seen more widely is simply the lack of money and resources to keep it going.
I’m not sure that there would be universal consent to the idea that great music from earlier centuries is neither universal nor relevant to our times. Klink herself, judging from her bio on Kulturimpuls, may have been more successful than any other eurythmist at making eurythmy visible in and relevant to the cultural mainstream, so, to return to the theme of your posting, whatever challenges eurythmy may be having now in terms of identity, visibility. and relevance, I don’t think can be connected in a straightforward way to the video gc-photo-art posted.
Yes, I would concur – there is interesting, exploratory work being done, and yes, lack of money and resources cramps its progress. Steiner exhorted Eurythmists to charge highly for their work, we were told during our training – to use a great South Africanism in answer – Ja well, no fine – in other words – nice ideal, but church mousedom is more the norm for this profession – particularly if you are way off the Eurythmy world beaten track. I chuckle reading recommendations from otherwise excellent Eurythmy teachers and philosophers like Reg Down on how to manage, for example, that bane of a Eurythmy teacher’s life, the shoe cupboard… Where I teach there are no shoes available unless you import them at prohibitive prices, let alone cupboards for them in the two mechanic’s garages that have served us as teaching spaces over the last 5 years!
That aside, however, I believe that this art form, only in its babyhood after all, needs to encourage its 3 year old’s capacity to speak its pronoun – I. It begs more feisty, skilled communicators to ‘walk’ with greater assurance on this path, to interact with other artists, and indeed, to attune oneself to an even greater degree so that as Mark Neil so eloquently expressed it – the audience can see the sparks fly from the tone gestures.
Maybe Eurythmy awaits (dare I say it) its Greta Thunberg – an impervious- to-egoism, fearless proponent of its multiple possibilities – to inspire multiple others and bring the exceptional fruits of this art to a much wider world..
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Here’s a humorous persiflage of speech and tone eurythmie by Bettina Grube (Youth Eurythmie Festival 2012): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIj6sjGBUMk
Eurythmie movements were not described as dance by Steiner, but as visible tone and speech movements, especially of the larynx in the neck area.
Cf. “During the waking life of day there is a certain regulated connection between the four members of man’s being: physical body, etheric body, astral body and Ego. This connection can be indicated if I make sketches to show how the so-called aura of the human being appears to clairvoyant consciousness — but of course the sketches are only very rough. … During the waking state the Ego-aura holds together in the form of an oval but during sleep divides into two parts Etc.” GA0141/19121210
[Here an additional sentence is left out twice in the English translation: ‘In the neck area, the ego-aura is interrupted…’.]
Does Steiner emphasize Eurythmy as performance art form – something to be observed, understood,experienced from without? What little I know about it points to it being experiential and therapeutic – that it changes/integrates one from within – that it integrates the bodies of the individual doing it. No?
Since no one more knowledgeable is responding to your very good query, I’ll throw in my vaguely-informed two bits. If nothing else, it might prod someone else with more experience to answer. Eurythmy started as a performance art form in 1912. Pedagogical and curative eurythmy started after WWI. I’ve heard that the trainings do lay a great deal of stress on the transformative work you mention, but this stress goes hand in hand with and is integral to the training as performing artists. The few eurythmists I know do take the performance element very seriously.
Intellect, feeling and character (or etheric, astral and ego body) are all involved in eurythmie. Art combines inward and outward experience.
“Every Eurythmic movement may be looked upon as being of a threefold nature … In the first place we have, embodied in the model as a whole, the movement as such, that is to say, the arm movements or the movements of the legs. Secondly, in the draping of the veil, in the way the veil is held, drawn close to the body, or thrown into the air, or allowed to fall again or to fly out in waves — all this gives the opportunity for adding to the more intellectual expression of the soul-life, as this is shown through the movement, another quality of the soul-life, that of feeling. … Through this consciously experienced tension of the muscles, character is brought into the movement. … The moment a Eurythmist becomes conscious of possessing a charming face, in that moment something is introduced into Eurythmy which is completely foreign to its nature; on the other hand, the knowledge of how to make conscious use of the muscles of the face does form an essential part of Eurythmy.” GA0279/19230826
Why eurythmy did not become mainstream (yet)? Anthroposophy did neither yet. It is OK to be a small stream within the big landscape of the arts of movement, as long as it remains and is innovated. And it is. I don’t know whether this link will work but it offers a glimpse of eurythmy as a support for (spiritual) community building (in Taiwan):
The link worked, Hans. Community-building in movement – how beautiful! Thank you!
What a stimulating discussion. Thank you all. Here are some of my observations and experiences as a Waldorf class teacher and a Eurythmy teacher. My first watching of Eurythmy, in my late 30s, was of a German group where the one woman came across as a former commandant – stiff, stern and not inspiring. Luckily, a French Eurythmist visited next and held a short introductory class which left me gasping with the insights she brought.
“Why didn’t they talk about this when I learned ballet?” I thought. Since then the experiences have been mostly positive with highlights leaving me convinced that no other art form could encapsulate the essence of and reveal the potent depths of the poem/piece of music as utterly as did the Eurythmy performances. I have found that the initiation into Eurythmy (and that it most definitely was) has enhanced my teaching of everything else.
Again, I know that Eurythmy has been, too often, cringingly and awfully brought to children and teenagers with a stentorian discipline or precious waftiness. For myself, I have found that one’s own groundedness, up to dateness with what’s going on in the world, deep interest in the children and – sense of humour have enabled overwhelmingly positive responses from every age group.The ‘earthiness’ actually enables those more ‘elevated’ moments of wordless, silent realisation of the most spiritual within us.
And adults, whether yoga teachers or businessmen, have also come away from with eye-brows raised in pleasant surprise at their experiences. I think it’s a case of neither ‘as it was in days of yore’ nor ‘chuck that out for what the future has in store’. It’s both. To end off – a couple of appraisals from two 11 year olds.
“Eurythmy is a calm movement of the body. It can be fast, slow, big, small, curved, straight, tall or short. You use all the parts of your body. I would miss Eurythmy as much as my mom if she went away.”
“Eurythmy is a dream. It follows me in my sleep. A breeze that flows through my heart.”
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Those were lovely appraisals from the children. I’ve seen magnificent eurythmy teaching where I could tell from how the children were responding just how fortunate they were to have this experience.
I’m wondering, though, what benefits you think the children might be receiving when eurythmy is being, as you put it, “too often . . .cringingly and awfully brought.” It must be one of the hardest subjects to teach well; I imagine that it requires that the teacher be a gifted inspiring mover with a deep understanding of eurythmy, as well as a gifted inspiring teacher. I remember watching one class that looked like it was hell on earth for teacher and students alike, as well as others less dramatically chaotic where it looked like the students were just reluctantly going through the motions and the teacher didn’t seem to have any idea of how to bring them out more. Ideally, teachers will be inspired in all the subjects they teach, but perhaps eurythmy is more heavily dependent on that inspiration than other subjects?
Eurythmy was compared to dance, ballet and sports. I think it is better to compare it to movements made by priests in all religions; movements which are often accompanied by words, mantras or vice versa. Or look at our unconscious movements, the „body language“ which is well researched and used by actors, also look at the body language of parents towards their very young children. There you find the bodily, external expression of what lives in our souls and which translates into the etheric and physical body.
I m not an eurythmist, I only tried some „exercises“ with trained eurythmists a few times and I d say that only by doing it yourself you ll understand what eurythmy is. And if you dont know any eurythmic movements try this: Put yourself into the mood of loving openess: How would you, how could you express this with your arms, with your whole body? Put yourself strongly in the mood of being a ruling general, being alone, at the top, no advice needed or accepted: How do you express this with gestures? Try it, when nobody sees you, try it with the child inside you. Doing this you come to eurythmy yourself and you are surprised and glad that so many before you have done this before, studied it, found out so much.
It is true that eurythmy is one of the least known and beloved children of anthroposohy, also on this continent so far from the UK. So yes, the ayes have it ;-). But the „eurythmic scene“ is quite diversified with different „schools“ and yes, parodies, pantomime, even circus remembrances are popular in Waldorf schools. And there is a new development in eurythmy to be reported and that is applied eurythmy in the field of seed research, agricultre, quality improvement etc. I didnt find anything in English on it, but with a translating machine like https://www.deepl.com/translator you will be able to understand what it is about.
Click to access Forschung_2012-6.pdf
Click to access Kilthau-Baumgartner.pdf
Dear Jeremy, please add this link to my letter. It shows perhaps the only English book on the subjects, called Eurythmy and its Effects on Plants and Substances
Thank you Ottmar
Fantastic, Ottmar, what an important window on eurythmy and Nature. Essential for healing the Earth. It reminds me in a way of my time as a student of the rural development programme at Emerson College, U.K. At that time there was a “South garden” laid out by Mark Feedman an American pioneer of biodynamic agriculture in developing countries. In the morning we had classes and in the afternoon we worked in the garden. We also had our jobs to do like milking the goats at 5 o’clock in the morning. More or less the only persons who visited the garden regularly, with real interest, were students from the eurythmy course. They demonstrated (sometimes a bit pretentious, but often very real and humbly) a kind of oneness with Nature which filled the garden with a different spirit than we could bring in while “double digging” the soil and mowing the hay. It helped us to fine-tune our aspirations.
In this link https://institut-artenova.ch/publikationen/ you ll find the only publication in English I know of, called „Eurythmy and its Effects on Plants and Substances“. Also in the Jahresberichte, the year reports you find „hard“ evidence, statistical prove for the effects of eurythmy on plants and substances. (Working with elemental beings is a different matter.)
There are a few people who work on similar fields or along similar lines in the Netherlands (your name sounds Dutch) and in the UK, see here:
Click to access bk_uebgruppen_2018-02-26.pdf
I know my reply might make this thread drift further, but with Ottmar’s mentioning of the Bildekraefte research, (thank you Ottmar!), I think it’s also important to note the work of Lawernce Edwards. His tree and plant bud observations have been continued by others in several locations around the planet: On-going research over the last decades has yielded clear, solid statical correlations between the moving shape of a bud and the moon’s alignments with specific planets. It’s a fourteen-day cycle and a lunar month. A specific tree species has an affinity to a specific planet. Nothing in modern physics can explain this phenomenon.
If you are interested in learning more, here’s a good jumping off point:
(Disclaimer: I am personally deeply involved in this research too. So, although I’m biased :), I am also absolutely certain this is a real phenomenon.)
Hans, to the translation of “Bildekraefte” — yes, it is usually translated as you mention immediately above (Life forces – formation forces). However, “Life forces” is normally used for Lebensether. And Bildekraft falls under the general rubric of the Etheric – of which Dr. Steiner speaks of seven. Four of which we can talk about, the other three, “higher,” Dr. Steiner literally said we (humanity) are not far enough along to discuss.
Interestingly, the word Bild or Bildung has many nuances in German. Another translation, one that would be unwieldy – more of a transliteration – would be Pictorial Forces (or Pictorial Power). But that comes across in English far weaker than the German’s implied meaning. In a sentence, I’d explain Bild-Kraeft something like ‘pictures which have formative powers streaming from them into something else.’ Which, we might recall, is one of the ways Dr. Steiner describes how the spiritual world works into and with the physical world. That goes full circle to the Life Ether.
It’s also a lovely phenomenon of language that Bild translates to Picture, but we have in English “Build” as in “Building” or “Build something.”
And BTW, it’s highly likely that the plant bud phenomena mentioned are the result of “some kind” of “forces” working from the planets, moon, and earth. One can only think of an etheric – or building / formative force – but no one knows yet! And many very smart people have been bashing their collective heads against this problem for decades. (If anyone here is very interested, I’m sure they would welcome your participation.)
Pulling this back to the thread topic. To me, there is no doubt that a Eurthymist is working with the etheric. Otherwise, at the least, Curative Eurythmy would be nothing more than dance or mechanical movement therapy. It works, it heals.
For me, the future of Eurythmy is for a eurythmist to be so “in tune” that they portray the messages of the Stars, that they reveal “eternity in the passing moment.”
Your research on the moon s influence on plants is very interesting indeed. Does your study group have any connections with other anthroposophic or goetheanistic researchers? For me it looks like your research is part of the chronobiology, isnt it? This is what I know of researchers into chronobiologywith an anthropsophical background:
and check google for chronobiologie dorka pictures
Most research goes into chrono medicine of course.
On the word Bildekraefte: kraft, plural kraefte means forces and Bildekraefte I would also translate as forces, energy which form, shape, create, build.
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Etheric, formative forces are also called ‘plastic‘ or plasticity forces in German (Fundamentals of Therapy 1925). They ‘work from all sides of the universe streaming to the earth’ and in their metamorphosis as intellectual forces in the movements of eurythmy too:
“Thus the formative or sculptural [plastic] force, appearing from the one side in the soul-content of our thought, is revealed to the imaginative spiritual vision from the other side as an etheric-spiritual reality.” GA027_c01
Steiner (Torquay 1924, True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation) contrasted the statistical method with the phenomenological method, which he and Ita Wegman applied to human organs (‘true organology‘). Now, buds are plant organs, and the bud shape of different trees (beech, ash etc.) can be linked to the phenomenology of different human organs (spleen, heart etc.) with their well-known planetary correlations.
“The path that starts from the individual human organs which we apprehend and perceive directly through a spiritual anatomy is the path that can lead to true results in contrast to the false approach that seeks to understand external phenomena by statistical methods that are a travesty of natural science.” GA0243/19240821 (cf. Boundaries of Natural Science, GA0322/19201002 and 19201003)
Thank you, Ottmar. Yes, there is a group in the Netherlands who translated and studies the book of Dorian Schmidt Lebenskraefte – Bildekraefte, 2010 (Life forces – formation forces?). But from you I learned that there may be a direct link between this kind of perception research and Eurythmy. And this could not only be limited to perception but also to influencing. “Healing Self. Healing the Earth”.
By the way I wonder how the olive tree of Jeremy is doing. Did Spring bring the recovery you hoped?
I remember having problems with Dorian Schmidt s book, it is more a theoretical foundation of his work. For me the „results“ are more interesting and as you know this method of „etherical“ perception has spread into many fields indeed.
Tanja Baumgartner from institut artenova looks for „scientific proof“ of her work; people working with the method of Dorian Schmidt try to „view“ the etherical changes through eurythmy directly. There are attempts to „prove“ the truth of these perceptions with statistical methods but I wonder if these proofs are the right approach for etherical research.
And there are eurythmists who are trained in both in Dorian Schmidt s method and also work on plants and substances with eurythmy.
Once I had the privilege to test and compare beans from a field that had „received eurythmy“ and a field next to it without eurythmy. There was a difference indeed.
I m glad to report that there is a good cooperation among these people, also with the institute in Herrischried https://stroemungsinstitut.de/current-issues/ and others.
When you download the following paper and search for the keyword eurythmy you ll find some answers or hints https://www.sektion-landwirtschaft.org/fileadmin/landwirtschaft/Pr%C3%A4parate/The_biodynamic_preparations_in_context_web.pdf
This is a new field of work, much is still in the experimental stage, few preliminary papers are circulated privately.
„Healing the earth“: This is also very much a private business. Once I went for a hike with an eurythmist who suddenly told me: wait here, I ll go back a bit, there s a place which needs help and she did some eurythmic movements. Of course you dont want to expose yourself to ridicule or nonsense talks. So I think many people, not only eurythmists, not only Steiner students do a lot of things to „heal or help the earth“ but this is not talked about.
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The tree I was worried about is a plum, not an olive, but I’ve painted all of the trees with tree paste. I don’t know how to post a photo in these replies, otherwise you could see the plum arrayed in white blossom, like a bride awaiting Christ! I’m hoping the tree paste will keep the bacterial canker at bay but it’s still a little too early to tell.
I thought it was a plum, not an olive, but Hans is such a loving figure that he would have it an olive tree because of the connotations. You see, Steiner spoke about the olive tree and its significance at the time of Christ, and these were some early remarks:
“Paul is great throughout the world where the olive tree is cultivated. I know I am saying something strange, but we shall see that this strangeness explains itself, in a certain sense, when tomorrow we enter a little into the character of Paul. Geographically, too, the world is full of secrets. And the region of the Earth where the olive tree flourishes is different from the regions where flourish the oak or the ash. Man as a physically embodied being has a relationship with the elemental spirits. In the world of the olive tree the rustle and movement, the whisper and gesture, are not the same as in the world of the oak or the ash or the yew. And if we want to grasp the connection of the Earth-nature with human beings, we need to pay attention to such peculiar facts as this — the fact that Paul carries his message just as far over the Earth as the domain of the olive tree extends. The world of Paul is the world of the olive tree.” GA149, 29 December 1913.
So, you see Jeremy, Hans has the idea of the original olive tree transferred into the modern age of the plum. Yet, he wonders where we are at with it. You proffered an Easter conference in 2019 which hasn’t happened, and maybe he was looking forward to it.
All we have today is today. Three years ago we had the “crowd-think” you wanted, and yet, it came to nothing. Thus, Brexit is a sty in the eye in the world scene, and isn’t that sad?
Happy Easter. The whole Earth is awaiting Christ …
The most vibrant eurythmy performance I ever saw was the Terra nova group of you g people from Sao Paulo in Brazil, performing at the Connect Youth Conference in 2003 at the Goetheanum. I couldn’t believe how different it was, even though the words were in Portuguese. The music was Brazilian and a young man played saxophone on stage as the eurthymists flowed around him. There maybe great Eurythmy going on, just not in Europe. Caroline
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A timely, thoughtful and provokative blog. I started Eurythmy over 70 years ago in the kindergarten at Michael Hall. Then continued through to class 12. Boys were obliged to hate Eurythmy. simple. Eurythmy is girly OK? What is more when seriously asked in later years ‘what is Eurythmy all about?’ the teacher could not give a meaningful answer. Of course a Steiner School leaves pupils to develop in freedom. In Eurythmy we tended to get walloped with a copper rod if we stepped out of line or chatted.
As a teenager I was very shy and there is no doubt that Eurythmy is very revealing. This is sensed subconsciously and for me was very off putting.
Only Steiner kids experience Eurythmy as ‘part of normal life’ so might be expected to become a natural audience for performances. No luck there.
Many decades later I joined a course at the Goetheanum which had a Eurythmy component. It was then that I became aware of how much of a person was revealed when ‘going through the motions’ of Eurythmy.
Later still I spent some years at Botton Village, when it was still a ‘Camphil Community’ and not a bog standard care home.
In those days CVT supported the Botton Eurythmy School. That made Eurythmy Performances one of the main entertainments in the village.
by watching the students at various levels of training and the teachers and visiting performers I finally GOT What it was all about. When I now watch good Eurythmy it can sends shivers down my spine. It can be wonderful. Unlike music, which can be enjoyed passively, Eurythmy needs active appreciaton and aware openness to the experience. Which probably explains why this Art of Movement has not gone mainstream.
Eurythmy as required subject in STeiner schools is for me a big question,. The going through the motions by children is NOT Eurythmy. In recent years I have seen some pretty good attempts by year 12 pupils in German Steiner Schools but even then it is usually a very few individuals who ‘become the movement’ Which is when Eurythmy becomes an art,.
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I very much appreciate John Anthony’s contribution above.
It is appalling to read that he was ‘walloped’ with a copper rod. I hope the teacher concerned was not allowed to assault other children.
Ve hed Dizzipleen on our days. Uniform caps, saturday detention and no nonsense (except when we could get away with it) . The dear lady with the copper rod is long over the threshold, where she no doubt experienced her ‘misdeeds’ in Kamaloca. Hey! she got me to move almost rhythmically and had i not been so very shy I might have actually enjoyed the lessons.
No Hippy nonsense in the 1950s.
Eurythmy becomes an art when human beings realize that every movement is an act of consciousness. This is an astounding account, John. Thank you for providing it. Of course, there are different levels of reception to the inculcation of eurythmy into the curriculum of Steiner/Waldorf, but it is no less than the same difference in any kind of physical education, or even sports activity in a national school.
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Ottmar wrote: „Healing the earth“: This is also very much a private business. Once I went for a hike with an eurythmist who suddenly told me: wait here, I ll go back a bit, there s a place which needs help and she did some eurythmic movements. Of course you dont want to expose yourself to ridicule or nonsense talks. So I think many people, not only eurythmists, not only Steiner students do a lot of things to „heal or help the earth“ but this is not talked about.
The most concrete demonstrations of “healing the Earth” I witnessed were Gaia Touch group exercises in and around Amsterdam by geomant and sculptor Marko Pogacnik http://www.markopogacnik.com/ .Marko does not directly refer to eurythmy but the movements he directs around acupuncture points of landscapes, in my feeling, resonate with it.
In that period he closely worked together with his then clairvoyant daughter Ana. Her poetry published in Dutch helped me through a period of deep crises:
“Looking inward, to see inwardly“
I look at the world with closed eyes.
I’m scared of the view in the mirror,
because I’m afraid of meeting myself in it.
I’m scared to come across myself,
as I fear the touch of the sight.
Only when I’m ready to open my heart
and to look upon life through it,
I can touch my deepest essence
and thus the world as a mirror of myself.
Much later, in May 2015, two signals with a strong message directly from the world of eurythmy coincided (I found out just recently): an article was published “Eurythmy for the Etheric Organisation of the Earth: Is this Useful for Today?” https://srmk.goetheanum.org/fileadmin/srmk/XRBRE/RbE63.pdf page 19
It was written by Werner Barfod and Carina Smith, both very respectable eurythmists. “We are living in eurythmy with its surplus etheric forces; our internet connections surround the earth with the opposite forces. Each one of us can decide freely whether we want to contribute in a healing way to the survival of the earth: after one hundred years of eurythmy it is now time to help the earth’s etheric sheath. It is as endangered as the bees and without help it will not survive. Collectively we can give the earth new etheric forces on a daily basis, to counteract the grey network that is growing in strength on a daily basis. How can we do this practically? The etheric forces inherent within eurythmy can strengthen the earth’s etheric body in the same way as the preparations strengthen biodynamic farming when they are added to the earth.”
The other signal came by means of the eurythmy performance we included in a weekend conference in The Hague with Ibrahim Abouleish, founder of SEKEM, Egypt, June 2015. The performance directed by Elsemarie ten Brink and with modern live bajan music by young Ukrainian musician Maxim Shalygin was titled “Earth, O Earth” and based on a poem of Nelly Sachs “Chorus of the Stars”. The eurythmy troupe included professional eurythmists, elderly amateurs and children. During the multi-cultural dialogue and conference my wife and I conducted a workshop “Who Owns the Earth? A Buddhist question.”
Earth, O Earth,
Star of all stars,
One day a constellation will be called Mirror
Then, O blind one, you will see again.
Erde, o Erde
Stern aller Sterne
Einmal wird ein Sternbild Spiegel heißen.
Dann o Blinde wirst du wieder sehn!
It hasn’t gone mainstream because:
– it’s boring to watch
– it’s embarrassing
– it’s lame as a form of exercise
– the pseudo-scientific and spiritual mumbo jumbo that props it up in the eyes of its practitioners is unappealing to the general public.
Clearly, you are writing from a position of opposition and lack of understanding of eurythmy. But if you’re willing to explore a little further, may I suggest that you take a look at ‘The Green Snake’, the really fascinating biography of Margarita Woloschin, a Russian artist who was involved in the construction of the first Goetheanum and who worked closely with Rudolf Steiner. On pages 286-287 of the Floris Books edition, she describes how Steiner and Lory Smits (the young woman chosen by Steiner to develop eurythmy) worked together in a wonderful manner and what they were able to achieve with this new art. It is both moving and full of promise for the future of humanity, even if some of us struggle to appreciate it purely as an artistic spectacle.