Archangel Michael, icon by Simon Ushakov, 17th century.
By Mario Betti
We live in the age of Michael, the Archangel of the Sun, and as we are exposed to the influence of the oppositional powers, each of us is facing personal, professional, social and spiritual challenges.
At a time when humanity is crossing the threshold, we are in need of spiritualized thinking, nature observation and Michaelic communities.
As we cross the threshold we sense, deep in our souls, the proximity of death forces, but because of this we also experience our true, immortal-cosmic dimension lighting up. As a result, more and more people can remember earlier incarnations or have concrete premonitions and experiences of nature’s spirituality and their own higher self. Some speak of having met the Christ. Closeness to death and the yearning for immortality or for spirituality are effective, though still largely unknown, factors that profoundly determine our lives today.
Christ – helper at the threshold
Many hopes and fears are linked to this, because the powers of evil, too, become tangible at the threshold. Rudolf Steiner said that Michael, through whose being Christ reveals himself in a new spiritual form, is the great helper at the threshold to the supersensible world. He also said that the initiation principle should become a civilization principle today.
Michael works in two ways: firstly, by spiritualizing our thinking forces into free, visionary heart-thinking, a process in which feeling and will are also transformed; and secondly by spiritualizing our view of nature. Since true anthroposophy is a synthesis of science, art and religion, the arts and religious experience are included in this transformative process. This gives us two sides of a golden triangle: the spiritualization of consciousness both in relation to the inner world and to the outer world of the senses, with its practical implications.
This inner alchemy awakens concrete impulses in us for our social and professional life. And this points us to the third side of the triangle, the base, which is related to our co-existence as human beings – in relation to Michael. With his work, Rudolf Steiner intended to found a community that can stand up to the oppositional powers, so that the cultural mission of anthroposophy can be even more intensely realized. There have been individuals again and again who tried not only to establish cultural institutions out of the spirit of anthroposophy, but also to make the golden triangle a social reality.
Rudolf Steiner gave a few examples of this when he wrote about the Michael Mystery on 16 November 1924, in GA 26, in the chapter The World-Thoughts in the Working of Christ and in the Working of Ahriman (see quotation at the end of this article).
Borrowing from St Paul’s Hymn to Love in the first letter to the Corinthians, one could say that clairvoyance and mystery wisdom, scholarly works on Michael or the «Foundation Stone of Love» of the 1923–24 Christmas Conference, or even amendments to the statutes and articles are merely «a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal» if Michaelic thinking is without love. Love completes the golden triangle of Michael’s working.
The threshold becomes bridge
I am aware that original thoughts, artistic inspirations or genuine religious exultation don’t appear at the push of a button. Like the impulses of genuine, selfless love, they must be seen as a grace. But we can wish, or strive, for love. We can consciously struggle for selfless love, even if we fail again and again. And, yes, we can pray for it. As a preliminary step on the way to love we can form genuine Michael communities by being deeply accepting of others who may think differently.
We could rename the book How to Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds for our time and call it How to become conscious of the power of love in the soul. When it comes to the Anthroposophical Society, true Michaelic thinking would truly further social life. The threshold would become a bridge. Imagine, in all earnestness, a rebirth of the Anthroposophical Society out of the spirit of love. A utopian dream?
Love for the world
When we seek freedom, unselfishly, when freedom becomes pure love for the action that is to be performed, then we can come closer to Michael. When we strive to act freely but act out of egoism, on the other hand, when freedom becomes pride in manifesting ourselves in our actions, then we are in danger of falling into Ahriman’s sphere. […] When we feel that we are free and close to Michael, we are on the way to carry the power of intellectuality into our ‹whole being›; we think with the head but the heart feels thinking’s bright light or darkness; the will radiates out our being because the thoughts stream in the will as intentions. We become more and more human as we become an expression of the world. […]
If we follow Michael, we cultivate love in relation to the outer world, […] then the love for the world can radiate back to our own self, which is then able to love without loving itself. It is on the paths of such love that our soul can find the Christ. If we stay close to Michael, we cultivate love in relation to the outer world, and, in doing so, find the relation to our inner soul world that unites us with the Christ.
Source: Rudolf Steiner, GA 26, Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts, The World-Thoughts in the Working of Michael and in the Working of Ahriman.
Mario Betti born 1942, former Waldorf teacher and lecturer at Alanus University in Alfter and at the Waldorf Teacher Training in Stuttgart (both DE). He has published several books, the most recent one on the meditation of the Rose Cross (2018).