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Re: [anthroposophy] Steiner in GA 171

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  • Bill N
    Stephen, Would you send me that reference. Thank you. Bill ... From: SRC To: Sent: Tuesday, September 03,
    Message 1 of 22 , Sep 3, 2002
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      Would you send me that reference. Thank you.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "SRC" <mozartg@...>
      To: <anthroposophy@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, September 03, 2002 11:02 AM
      Subject: [anthroposophy] Steiner in GA 171

      > Dear Kenneth:
      > --- jackstrange11 <jackfreed@...> wrote:
      > > Stephen,
      > > You're quite right. I don't mean to imply that you were saying that
      > > there was no high Mexican culture 2000 years ago; although I am not
      > > so sure that Steiner said anything in the 2 relevant lectures of GA
      > > 171 that would indicate he was poorly informed or relying on bad
      > > sources. Plus given the incomplete nature of our present knowledge,
      > > how do we judge whether he was poorly informed? I may be misreading
      > > or reading the wrong lectures but the 2 lectures 0f GA 171 and your
      > > essay raise the following questions in my mind.
      > Thanks for this, Ken, and I will review my piece to see if I was unclear
      > in presenting my points, or maybe even mistaken. The two, almost
      > duplicate, lectures of GA 171 are the only places where he makes
      > substantial comments about Mesoamerica.
      > One thing that makes me leery of taking Steiner as Complete Gospel on
      > Mesoamerica - beyond the very limited extent of his remarks - is not what
      > he does say, and the questions that surround those indications, but what
      > he does _not_ say. Read Marman & Markman's The Flayed God or David
      > Carrasco's Religions of Mesoamerica to see what vast wisdoms are contained
      > in Ancestral American spiritualities. Steiner only focuses on the macabre
      > and degenerate aspects, and describes nothing of the _method_ of the
      > protagonist or of the positive elements in his culture which must have
      > engendered or supported him. It is this more than anything else which
      > causes me to look with a jaaundiced eye at what he _does_ say in these
      > lectures. There is also another instance in which he refers to indigenous
      > American spirituality in such terms as: <utterly decadent,
      > pseudo-magical>, <decadent superstitions>, <such lore is of negligible
      > importance>, <pure superstition>, <decadent>, <superstition>, <Mexican
      > culture is decadent culture>, and <something extremely primitive>, and all
      > in one paragraph. While all that may well be true, and accurate enough in
      > terms of context, it is still another instance in which, given the
      > opportunity to <find the beauty in a dead hound's gleaming tooth>, he does
      > no such thing, but displays his general lack of sympathetic appreciation
      > for things Mexican-American and his lack of nuanced information. I find
      > this disquieting. (I can send you the reference privately if you wish; I
      > don't want to feed the flames of Dugan's Steiner-hatred by giving it
      > here.)
      > The details of what he does say can be debated back and forth- as I do
      > below in replying to you - but all that is of not much consequence, in the
      > long run.
      > > RS's use of certain names seems to you to indicate that he's
      > > telescoping later Aztec culture backwards on to the more ancient year
      > > 0 Mexican cultures. For example you say:
      > > ////////////////////////////////////////////////////
      > >
      > > "First of all, the language. For instance: "Vitzliputzli." This name
      > > provokes no associations, and a casual search for explanation in the
      > > dictionaries and lexicons is fruitless. All his terminology for the
      > > Mesoamerican deities derives from the Aztec records (as interpreted
      > > by the
      > > Spanish), but the events to which he refers date from both the early
      > > Olmec-Mayan-Teotihuacan era and the late-classic Aztec; 1st C. A.D.,
      > > and
      > > 16th C. A.D., respectively. Between the two are vast gulfs and divides
      > > which were not even suspected in Steiner?s day, and while there is
      > > still
      > > no record of any written language for the critical Teotihuacan
      > > civilization, the prolific but enigmatic Maya script was mute for all
      > > researchers in Steiner?s day."
      > > ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
      > > But Steiner says--"The being of the virgin birth bore a name that,
      > > when we try to transpose it into our speech approximates
      > > Vitzliputzli." Why couldn't the Aztec names be a coalescense of
      > > sound archetypes that existed well before high Aztec civilization?
      > > Then Steiner may be referring to the archetypal name and not
      > > referring to the Aztec records.
      > Well, that's a very good point, and one I hadn't thought of, but as there
      > is __no__ record of any Olmec/Teotihuacan language, that is strictly
      > speculative. Also <Vitzliputzli> _is_ the German translation for the
      > English/Spanish <Huitzilopochtli>: it's the same name in different
      > languages. Since it is generally advisable not to multiply extravagent
      > hypotheses unnecessarily, I opt for the latter interpretation, although it
      > is presumed, from default and lack of contrary information, that Olmecs
      > and Teotihuacanos did speak some form of Nahuatl.
      > > Only if there was absolutely no
      > > contact between Olmec-Mayan-Teotihuacan culture and Aztec culture,
      > > including on the archetypal level, can we conclude that Steiner's
      > > naming is misplaced. Also since Steiner alluded to the sound of the
      > > name, then I suspect he was reading the Akashic and not the pop
      > > literature of this time. Wouldn't he be committing a fraud if he
      > > said the "the names sound like..." but he got the name by simply
      > > reading some book?
      > One would not need to call it fraud, only a confusing conflation of
      > esoteric and exoteric sources of information. Steiner does not always
      > make it easy for us....
      > Yes, Steiner could very well have gotten it from the Akashic, but he also
      > demands that we exercise critical Thinking and do the homework of
      > grounding his statements in common sense and scientific method. So, if
      > you opt for a <he read the Akashic Record> interpretation, I would like to
      > think that you could adduce convincing evidence that that was what he did,
      > evidence either from your own parallel access to the Akasha or from
      > explicit statements from Steiner that that was the case in this instance.
      > I think, on the other hand, and I went to great lengths to indicate it,
      > that he was, indeed, overly influenced by the pop literature of the time -
      > _in his circumstantial details, not in his main thesis_. (emphasis)
      > > Later you say:
      > > ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
      > > ".>"Vitzliputzli "" Huitzilopochtli"
      > > >we note that the term has not been translated, but left in its
      > > original
      > > >and unfamiliar German form. It is no mystery that Huitzilopochtli
      > > is -
      > > >and has always been - standard English usage for the German
      > > >?Vitzliputzli?, yet it seems that denoting the 1st C. hero by the
      > > name of
      > > >his 15th C. counterpart was simply too much. Why was this?
      > > Huitzilopochtli was the demon-god and culture-hero of the Aztecs to
      > > whom
      > > multitudes were sacrificed in ritual murder, and before whose temple
      > > the
      > > famously immense skull-rack with its countless trophies was
      > > displayed.
      > > How could this have been the same person whom Steiner describes as the
      > > saviour of the Christ-impulse?
      > > //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
      > > ////////
      > > Maybe it's not. Perhaps the sounds of "Vitzliputzli" were
      > > appropriated by the 15C demon God. Perhaps the translators thought
      > > that the sounds of Vitzliputzli were not accurately rendered in
      > > Huitzilopochtli who may be a totally different God anyway.
      > I certainly do think that there was a complete inversion/corruption of
      > atributes of our initiate between 1st. C. V. and 16th C. H., and that it
      > is the same name that refers to two entirely different entities, much the
      > same as <Jesus> means many things to different people, for instance 1st.
      > C. gnostics or 16th C. Inquisitioners - or Spanish Conquistadors!
      > > More importantly, you seem to suggest that Steiner confused
      > > Mesoamerican culture of the year 0 with Aztec culture 1000 years
      > > later, but I cannot find where he does so.
      > I may have not been sufficiently explicit about this; I'll have to check
      > what I wrote. What I meant to say was that _insofar as he spoke as a
      > typically well-informed man of his time and place_, it would be inevitable
      > that he would tend to draw unwarranted inferences of similarity between
      > the Aztec culture and the 1st. C. AD culture whose events he describes.
      > Everyone else who lived then did, and many still do. What is more
      > important, however, is that we, insofar as we wish to understand his
      > meaning and intent, use what we now know about the history of Mesoamerica
      > to refine the detail of what he indicated. As they stand, his sketchy
      > 1916 remarks are unsatifactory for developing a nuanced modern
      > understanding of events in Mesoamerican culture.
      > Specifically, Steiner's descriptions of the method of human sacrifice
      > practiced in the devolved mysteries, and the use of the words
      > <Tezcatlipoca>, <Quetzalcoatl>, these are all quite clearly Aztec-period
      > practices and nomenclature, as no evidence exists, even in our own time,
      > of these practices - as he describes them - or names existing in
      > pre-14th C. eras. As there is all evidence in support of this, and none
      > against it, it seems unreasonble to me to attempt to resolve the
      > difficulties by appeal to supposed supernatural powers of Dr. Steiner if
      > he himself does not invoke them. On the contrary, when he _does_ speak of
      > the method of the 1st. C. white magician/shaman, he invokes his initiate
      > skills three times in making reference to his <occult powers> and <occult
      > means>. And, indeed, in these instances, his communication seems to shift
      > into another gear altogether.
      > > //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
      > > /////
      > > "Secondly, as we have alluded, there is the conflation of the time-
      > > periods
      > > involved; a problem that continues to plague modern researchers. Let
      > > us
      > > note the back jacket cover statement that appeared in the first
      > > English
      > > edition of Steiner?s lecture-cycle, as it illustrates the tendency
      > > within
      > > the context of our present focus: "
      > > "We hear of how [?] forces, opposed to humanity, threatened to reach a
      > > tragic climax in the bloody Aztec mysteries of ancient Mexico, until
      > > they
      > > were thwarted by the heroic efforts of a Mexican Sun-initiate."
      > > "Yet the fabulous Aztec episode in history is
      > > substituted for the unknown, but essential one which took place a
      > > millenia-and-a-half before! The simple fact that the Azteca entered
      > > the
      > > Valley of Mexico in the 14th Century, and only began their trajectory
      > > of
      > > Empire a hundred years later , much like the Inca, who also only
      > > enjoyed
      > > ascendance for a mere score of decades , has difficulty registering"
      > >
      > > //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
      > > /////////////////////////////////
      > > I'm not sure, but if the essay refers exclusively to GA 171 Lectures
      > > 3 and 5 then I cannot find anywhere the word "Aztec" in the
      > > lectures. The back cover statement is not relevant.
      > I found it relevant because it reflects a typical significant confusion in
      > the minds of those who read Steiner uncritically, a confusion that arises
      > because Steiner himself did not make the distinction clear.
      > In the lecture of Sept. 24, Steienr says: <history tells of the fate
      > suffered by numerous Europeans who went to America after the discovery of
      > that continent. Many Europeans met their death at the hands of Mexican
      > priest-initiates who bound them to scaffold-like structures and cut out
      > their stomachs with expert skill. This is a matter of historical
      > knowledge, and it was an aftermath of what I have been describing to you.>
      > Now, although he does not say the word <Aztec>, it is abundantly clear
      > from the context that it is the Azetc era and the Aztecs that he is
      > referring to. And it is false that the stomach-excision of captured
      > Spanish is matter of historical record. It may be true that
      > stomach-excision was practised in the secret confines of the temples -
      > after all, almost every other kind of imaginable torture was practised by
      > them, so why not stomach-removal, also? - but there is no historical
      > record of such. So, here, Steiner was flat wrong, and must have been
      > relying on either faulty reading of the Akasha, or relying on bad pop
      > journalism. Or the translator was at fault. At any rate, his statement
      > is wrong as it stands.
      > > Why is he
      > > substituting 15 Century Azteca? Just because of the similiarity in
      > > names? But as I stated above, the similiarity in names doesn't
      > > necessarily show any confusion on RS's part. I don't even think that
      > > RS assumed a direct continuity between Aztec culture and the Mexican
      > > cultures of the year 0. He's basically only discussing the year 0
      > > cultures and not trying to draw any line between high Aztec and those
      > > early cultures.
      > Well, I disagree. Steiner _must_ refer to 16th C. Aztec practices
      > because those were all that were known in his day. In the instance above,
      > he does exactly that. And so he does, since as I have shown, his
      > descriptions of Mesoamerican reeligious practices are close to
      > word-for-word with those as they appear in Heckethorn and in the Spanish
      > codices and records. He can't cite any practices outside of the supposed
      > stomach-excision which are unique to 1st. C. era cultures, and that one is
      > unique to Steiner.
      > I would like to be able to develop a scenario in which stomach-excision
      > could be justifiably contexted within the function and intent of the
      > Olmecs' own practices, and relate it to and explain more of what is known
      > about their rites or remains, say the cleaved celts, collosal heads, or
      > the were-jaguar figurines. This is still a far way off.
      > > //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
      > > ///////////////////////////////////////
      > > "As Dr. Koslick observes in
      > > his Introduction to the lecture-cycle, there is a contradiction
      > > between
      > > Steiner?s statement that it was the stomach that was removed, and all
      > > other sources, both Aztec codices and Spanish records, which testify
      > > that
      > > it was the heart that was the object of excision. This contradiction
      > > has
      > > not resolved itself with time, and becomes even more complicated by
      > > the
      > > fact that Steiner does not acknowledge any practice of heart-removal,
      > > while Heckethorn, Steiner?s most evident source for his more
      > > circumstantial details, only refers to the accepted heart-removal"
      > > //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
      > > ///////////////////////////////////////////////
      > > Since RS has been discussing practices of 2000 yrs ago, then why
      > > refer to the records of the later Aztecs?
      > Because his descriptions so accurately mimic what people of his day
      > thought they knew about Mesoamerica as equalling the Azetcs - except for
      > the Maya, who were presumed to be idyllic folk ruled by peaceful gnostic
      > astrologer-contemplatives. ha.
      > > Does stomach removal
      > > contradict anything we know about ritual sacrifice 2000 years ago?
      > No, it does not, so it cannot be disproven, but that is a far way from
      > being able to confidently assert that Steiner was correct. I leave it as
      > a problem awaiting resolution.
      > > I am no expert in this and I certainly believe Steiner should be read
      > > critically. I just don't see any contradictions between these
      > > lectures and other forms of knowledge that I'm aware of about
      > > mesoamerica.
      > My attitude is that his indications regarding Vitzliputzli (however he
      > spelled his name!) are so significant that my advocacy of them shouldn't
      > be spoiled by any sloppy thinking - or evidence of sloppy thinking. This
      > material is not just for anthroposophists, who are justifiably inclined to
      > give Dr. Steiner the benefit of the doubt, but not always to Steiner's
      > ultimate benefit. People well-informed about matters Mesoamerican who
      > read Steiner on this, or my article about his remarks, are going to have
      > the same objections that I raise, and I don't want to get bogged down in
      > supporting the unsupportable - even though I personaly may also be able to
      > give him the benefit of the doubt.
      > Thanks for the chance to explain myself; your questions are all very
      > pertinent, and we are in agreement if we concede that answers to many
      > questions are still pending, and need more research.
      > In general, thank you again for your pointed questions and objections; I
      > shall continue to ponder them.
      > Best Regards,
      > Stephen
      > =====
      > Just cooperate and everything will be OK: The Authorities
      > Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big
      > ones are kept secret by public incredulity. Marshall McLuhan
      > In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in
      practice, there is.
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    • SRC
      ... And thank you for your replies and good will. Critical (not negative, just closely examined) review of Steiner s work is something conspicuous by its
      Message 2 of 22 , Sep 4, 2002
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        Dear Ken:

        --- jackstrange11 <jackfreed@...> wrote:
        > Stephen
        > Thank-you for answering my questions and your good will. I am new to
        > this topic and am looking forward to the continuation of your essay.

        And thank you for your replies and good will. Critical (not negative,
        just closely examined) review of Steiner's work is something conspicuous
        by its absence in AP circles, IMO. And look in the bibliographies of
        books by AP (my abbreviation for anthroposophical) authors: almost without
        exception, all the references are to other AP writers, most of whom parrot
        Steiner. Sure looks like a cult to an impartial outsider....

        > -I think that Steiner may seem unsympathetic to mesoamerican culture
        > because these lectures center on an Ahrimanic disturbance that was
        > left over from Atlantis. A disturbance that is still in effect and
        > which can have a negative influence on human evolution. A more
        > sympathetic and comprehensive view of mesoamerica was not the task at
        > hand.

        Yes, I think that explains it. Still, his limited remarks can give a
        false impression to the unthinking reader. Our problem, not his.

        > _Also, RS continually harped on the evil undercurrents that are
        > indigenous to all civilizations, especially Europe. Much of
        > anthroposophy concerns the illness of European culture-- utterly
        > decadent churches and cultures of dead materialistic superstition.
        > Recognition of evil in all of its forms and manifestations is
        > necessary for spiritual growth. His content was richer when
        > discussing Europe because that was his and his immediate followers'
        > enviroment.

        I agree with this, also. Still, a deep rut has been dug that obstructs
        access to positive aspects of American spiritual life for one who wants to
        go further with Steiner's method...just see what has - or hasn't been
        written about America in AP circles over the last 75 years.

        Sorry my replies are so short, I had a lightening strike on my building
        last evening, and things are still not up to speed...


        Just cooperate and everything will be OK: The Authorities

        Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big
        ones are kept secret by public incredulity. Marshall McLuhan

        In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is.

        Do You Yahoo!?
        Yahoo! Finance - Get real-time stock quotes
      • SRC
        ... I ve been mulling over our exchanges and it seems that there are a couple (at least!) of levels of conversation going on. One is the nuts and bolts of
        Message 3 of 22 , Sep 5, 2002
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          Dear Kenneth and Bill:

          --- jackstrange11 <jackfreed@...> wrote:
          > Stephen
          > Thank-you for answering my questions....
          > -I think that Steiner may seem....

          I've been mulling over our exchanges and it seems that there are a couple
          (at least!) of levels of conversation going on. One is the nuts and bolts
          of what Steiner did or did not say in GA 171; what he meant by what was
          transcribed of his lectures, etc., etc., etc. We may have talked that one
          out for the time being, since there's not all that much to work with
          anyway, certainly not enough to draw firm and obvious conclusions. Still,
          familiarity with the material is essential if one wants to maintain any
          kind of viable opinion....

          The other level is how de _we_ talk abaout Steiner. I mean, it is
          different if, on the one hand, we talk about him and what he said to other
          anthroposophists of good will, or even to credulous and naive
          anthroposophists who may tend to an attitude of belief, and, on the other
          hand, to reasonable and intelligent people of no particular persuasion who
          may not have even heard of Dr. Steiner.
          In the first instance, saying that Steiner knew what he knew because he
          was clairvoyant frequently answers all questions and silences all
          objections. While this may not be fair, either to Steiner or to the
          questioner, the possibility of its employment may frequently contribute to
          the rather sterile tone of many an anthroposophical discussion. Not here,
          thank god.

          With those who do not already <believe> in Steiner, this kind of attitude
          or rejoinder not only doesn't work, it will cause the one who uses it to
          immediately loose all credibility. And rightly so, because Steiner
          himself insisted over and over again that regardless of the privileged
          nature of the <sources> of his communications, their substance should
          stand on their own two feet and find their confimation in the
          rough-and-tumble world of normal discourse, evidence, and common sense.
          What I have tried to do in this (first part, only!) of my essay is to deal
          with Steiner's statements as if they were made by anyone else, and to try
          and understand their possible meanings and implications not only in
          relation to other statements of Steiner's, but also in relation to the
          general fund of information that human enterprise has generated about
          their ssubject matter.
          Other people have done this in other areas, but, to my knowledge, no one
          has tried to attempt this with what significant and mind-blowing remarks
          Steiner has made about Mesoamerica. I hope this is not true, and that my
          submissions here might stimulate someone to tell me who has previously
          tried to plow this furrow. In the meantime, since <Assumption Is The
          Mother Of All F*ckup> I have tried to be as rigourous as possible in
          examing Steiner's statements themselves before going on to draw
          conclusions from them. For those that simply take what Steiner says at
          face value, case closed, that may seem unecessary and even anti-Steiner,
          but if Rudolf Steiner's work is to enter the mainstream of modern
          cultivated discourse and escape the cultic ghetto into which his followers
          have unwittingly consigned him, his authority must proceed from, not
          preceed, his statements.

          So that's my attitude in dealing with his GA 171 material like I do.

          Best Regards,


          Just cooperate and everything will be OK: The Authorities

          Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big
          ones are kept secret by public incredulity. Marshall McLuhan

          In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is.

          Do You Yahoo!?
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