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  • Sarah Ford Elliott
    The Day of Venus It is funny how you can remember certain moments in you life so clearly. One moment I remember is during a tutorial at University during the
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 15, 2006
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      The Day of Venus
      It is funny how you can remember certain moments in you life so clearly. One moment I remember is during a tutorial at University during the final term of my three-year Theology degree, a course in the study of modern doctrine (20th Century Theology). I enjoyed this course and worked hard to explore the theories of Christian Existentialists and others. I had just read my essay on the modern theories that sought to explain the doctrine of Judgement and Damnation. After some discussion my tutor, Trevor Williams, Chaplain of Trinity College, asked me a mind-shattering question: “What if God does not wish to judge people? What if God accepts the life of each human being like the beautiful fragrance of an unfurling rose?”
      I do not remember my muttered, incoherent reply – something like “But that’s not possible.” But I do remember the effect that the question had on me. It was as if I had lived in a house for 21 years and had only just discovered that it had an upstairs! Suddenly all kinds of new possibilities were opened for me.
      It is as if you are compiling a particularly complex timetable within certain fixed parameters. Then you suddenly realise that the parameters are not fixed at all (or they are not fixed in the right place), you can move them and suddenly everything else begins to fall into place.
      This is not directly relevant to the events of Good Friday, except that reminds me again how easy it is to become totally caught up in the bounds of accepted thought. How refreshing it is to turn something completely on its head and see if it looks better the other way up.
      Accepted thought and practice, both conscious and unconscious, surrounding the events of Good Friday are completely bound up with the ideas and experiences of human suffering. We are encouraged to dwell upon and relive the human suffering of Jesus. The idea is basically that Christ suffered so much that we ought to be grateful; not only grateful, but also somehow guilty for inflicting this suffering on an innocent person. Out of this polarity of gratitude and guilt arises the motivation to “do our Christian duty”, to in some way make up for it all.
      In my first year of University I also studied “The Doctrine of Atonement”. This was a study of all the reasons that have been thought up over the centuries to explain why Christ had to die. The power of human ingenuity is stunning. There was a transactional theory in which humanity had to be “bought back” from God, a sacrificial theory in which Christ was a pure sacrifice that appeased the wrath of an angry God. One was based very cleverly on the Roman legal system. One way or another, Christ paid the price for human sin.
      I do not remember any of them particularly answering the question of why a God (who is assumed to be angry and in need of placating) should send his son to die in order to placate himself – although they tried, with a great deal of impressive intellectual gymnastics!
      “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
      The parameters of the traditional views of the reasons for the events of Good Friday are 1. That God is angry at humanity; 2. That Christ suffered (as a human being) for our sake; 3. That we are responsible.
      The traditional picture of Christ as the suffering human begins directly after the last supper in Gethsemane. Here we have Christ uttering the words:
      “Take this cup away from me.”
      We can identify with this all-too-human lapse of courage: who wouldn’t have second thoughts in such circumstances! But is it even logical that the Christ, the great sun being, would leave the heavenly sphere of the sun, make his long journey down through the cosmos, be incarnated in a human body, only to reach a point in the Garden of Gethsemane where he says “Actually, I’ve changed my mind! I haven’t got the courage to go through with it after all!”
      Let us instead, with Bock, see Christ not suffering as a human being, but suffering as a spiritual being. This suffering began at the point where he left the heavenly sphere, it intensified at his incarnation into a physical body at the Baptism, it continued for three years, and it reached a climax at the point where the encounter with death was about to be enacted.
      Bock says that the strain of keeping this perfect, spiritual being – over whom death has no claims – within the physical body and its sheaths at this point is so intense that there is a real danger that death will occur too soon. The cup of death is offered prematurely (almost as a temptation perhaps) and it is this that Christ asks to be taken away. In order to achieve what needs to be done, Christ cannot slip away (relatively) quietly in a garden; his blood needs to be spilt.
      So it is not a human lapse of courage that asks “Take this cup away from me,” but a divine resolve of will which knows what needs to be done and is determined to do it.
      Throughout the trial etc. the confrontational energy of Tuesday is gone, it is no longer relevant. It is not a lack of energy that comes through from this part of the accounts, but a concentration of resolve into “Thy will be done.”
      There is something touching about Pilate’s attempts to save this innocent man who will not help himself. His earth-bound legalistic mind cannot comprehend that he is playing a part in a cosmic destiny that will unravel itself, despite any human sense of justice.
      We instinctively cringe at every description of pain and injustice inflicted on Christ: the crown of thorns, the flogging, the mocking, the nails, the cross. We suffer with him and imagine that we can share in what he is experiencing. But this is not a human experience at all. The sharp intrusions of pain would have been welcome to the Christ, helping him to focus his forces on the onerous task of remaining in the human body until the right moment.
      In some ways, what is happening to Christ in the physical world at this point is almost irrelevant; except that he needs to stay connected to the physical world while he wrestles with the power of death. Pain, thirst, the plight of the fellow human beings being executed alongside him, the distress of those who love him: these are all helpful to him in achieving this. The real battle is taking place at a spiritual level.
      It is not easy to summarise the effects of The Mystery of Golgotha (as Steiner called it), and others have done it better than I ever could; but I’ll try. I will leave out the part about “The Fall” because that is too redolent of unhelpful traditional images and unhelpful ideas of original sin and the like. Anyone can read Esoteric Science if they want to understand this.
      If you think of God as a being which encompasses all the entities and activities of the cosmos; the different parts of the being perform different functions. For most of the activities of the universe, or spiritual beings, their activity is bound up with their nature: they do not have freedom, they do not have what we would recognise as consciousness. In order to have consciousness and freedom of thought you need to have the capacity to “stand back”, to be separate from something, to be objective. Human beings perform the activity of the conscious thinking of the universe. In order to do this, they incarnate into physical bodies on the material earth. This is the realm that Divine Will does not penetrate – to leave it free. Other influences have stepped in, however, these are described as the forces of Ahriman (forces that bind human beings to the material) and forces of Lucifer (forces that distract human beings from engagement with the material world.) Although the forces of Ahriman and Lucifer are polarities, their motivation is the same: they want to detract from the human capacity for freedom. Think of the forces of Ahriman as an addiction that bind us to itself; Lucifer as an obsession that occupies us in flights of fantasy.
      The human being is a microcosm of this. Some parts of us carry on doing the thing that they need to do regardless: most of the organs. Some parts of us can be affected by choice, whether conscious decisions or unconscious desires. The effects of the activities of the different parts of the body affect the health of the whole.
      The detachment from Divine Will was a gradual process of evolution: a kind of downward journey into materialism which climaxed (if a downward curve can climax?!) in the Roman era, at the time of Christ. If the Mystery of Golgotha had not happened then the downward journey into the material would have continued.
      I don’t know enough about Biochemistry to really relate this to the human body. But lets consider what happens when the body chooses to eat a lot of sugar. Let say that, through a conscious ego decision, or through a temptation of Ahriman or Lucifer, you decide to eat a fresh cream meringue! (This is where my memory gets dodgy – not of the meringue, but of the Biochemistry!) The body reacts: the pancreas produces insulin to stabilise the blood sugar level.
      On a cosmic level, something was in danger of going wrong in the material / spiritual balance of the cosmic being. If it would be allowed to happen, it would threaten the well being of the whole cosmos. A certain substance was needed to redress this imbalance. This substance was one that hitherto did not exist: the body and blood of a perfect divine spiritual being. Thus the sun being was released from the sun and began its journey to the place where it was needed. Since this was a cosmic event, the time-scale of the administration of this substance was vast. But the moment of it happening was on the cross on Golgotha when the blood of Christ flowed into the earth.
      “The medicine that makes whole.”
      “My God, my God (but I think this is actually plural, “gods”?) why hast thou forsaken me?” Christ has entered the realm where he experiences the disconnection from the divine will – the space that has been allowed for freedom to exist: the space where death has power.
      Due to the increasing connection between human beings and the material it was getting harder and harder for human beings to move into the spiritual world at death. They were getting stuck. If this were allowed to continue then part of the cosmic being would become ossified. There are diseases in the body like this. By passing through death as a wholly spiritual being, yet wholly connected to the earth, Christ could free up this death process, unclog the blockage, as it were.
      “It is finished.” The final words of Christ. Finally all that was needed had been achieved. At last the Ego of Christ can leave the body of Jesus. What is more, the Christ being can follow the blood and body into the earth. The Earth becomes the new physical body of the Christ being.
      Such transformations take place in the human body. At certain stages of development a new impulse becomes active in a certain part of the body; new capacities become possible.
      The darkening of the sun, the earthquake and the rending of the curtain in the temple are popularly imagined as the “fist shaking” of an angry God objecting to what is being done to his son. Bock describes it as actually the anger and frustration of the forces of darkness as their plans are being thwarted. But even with a less anthropomorphic view, it is likely that such a powerful transformation would have physical effects. Is God angry? We might feel some discomfort, even side effects, when a medicine is administered. On the whole I think God would be very pleased that part of his body was being “made better”!
      Should we feel personally responsible for the death of Christ? Well personally I don’t feel responsible at all. I don’t even particularly feel grateful – not in a debt of gratitude sort of way. I do feel blessed to be part of a universe that is fundamentally good and can look after itself so well. I do feel motivated to do my part in contributing to its continued well being.
      The Mystery of Golgotha was a healing event of cosmic significance at the turning point of time (in this Earth epoch). However, in the context of the above, I don’t think we need to dwell on it over much: it needed to happen; it happened – Alleluia!
      “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
      Venus is the feminine, nurturing planetary force. Venus is always looking out for what needs to happen in order for things to be balanced and beautiful. Venus creates spaces and opportunities for something to happen. It seems apt that this great act of healing should have been made possible on the day of Venus.
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