origins of holy communion
- Dear Dr Starman,Do you know what the origins of the bread of wine ritual are? Apparently they were originally pagan or related to the sun god, then Jewish. The Christ changed it at the Last Supper by? The rest of my knowledge about this is scanty. I'd be interested in hearing what you know about it.ThanksSarah
- sarahwh@... writes:
Dear Dr Starman,
Do you know what the origins of the bread of wine ritual are? Apparently they were originally pagan or related to the sun god, then Jewish. The Christ changed it at the Last Supper by? The rest of my knowledge about this is scanty. I'd be interested in hearing what you know about it.
*******That's a tiny part of a vast subject, the origin of religious rituals. All religious rituals were created by initiates, and all originated in a former state of consciousness such as modern man seldom possesses. Anthroposophy is a scientific body of knowledge designed to enable modern man to develop this state of consciousness again.
One of its teachings is that man is basically a fourfold being, composed of two "heavenly" parts (the astral body and ego, symbolized by air and fire) and two "earthly" parts (the etheric body and physical body, symbolized by water and Earth). Spirit and soul are identified with the ego and astral body, while their earthly habitation, the living human body, is a mixture of Water and Earth which is "offered up" for the soul & spirit to inhabit. It is this mixture which is symbolized by the wine and bread, and in ancient times, when people had a much greater feeling for ritual actions, wine and bread were ritually offered as a reminder of the offering of Mother Earth of her substance to be our bodies.
In Scripture, for instance, Melchizadek offers bread and wine to Abraham on his victory. Every ancient people had rituals which have survived in fragmentary form, but their central essence was in the much greater consciousness of performing ritual actions which all ancient people had. The libation or offering of wine to the gods is an example of something which, if you simply described what people did, could easily be made to sound absurd without the consciousness people had then. There were many various forms of rituals. In some, the round loaf of bread was identified with the sun, which also ripens the grapes on the vine, so that these two earthly substances were seen as a reflection of heavenly realities.
When the Christ broke the bread and passed the wine around at the Last Supper, it was a reenactment of these ancient rituals, and signified that He Himself was now taking charge of the earth, for he distributes these to the apostles. "Do this in memory of me". He said, and thus came into existence what we know as the Christian ritual of the mass, what the early Christians called the "love feast." The meaning of this is that He now assigns us our etheric and physical bodies, as the Earth Spirit used to do. Dr. Steiner expressed this by saying that the Christ united with the Earth Spirit, and has since become the Lord of Karma.
Here is one of the great tragedies of our times, that the Christian religion has become twisted into something that regards nature as evil or at least separates us from it, when actually with every morsel of food or drink we take in, we are taking in the Christ. All that we eat is His body. He permeates all of nature. Right down through the middle ages, Christians still had a sense for this, as can be seen in the Easter time song "Now the Green Blade Riseth" (also called "Forth He Came at Easter"). It's an example of why Dr. Steiner pointed to the Middle Ages as something that we can use to connect once again to what has been lost.