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Click to return to ARJ Page, Photo of Kristina Kaine Statue of Archangel Mi-cha-el from St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Gretna, Louisiana, USA taken by Bobby Matherne, Click to Read next Review

A READER'S JOURNAL GUEST ESSAY(1)

Michaelmas
A Talk Given to Briar Hill Primary Steiner School

by
Kristina Kaine

October 21, 2004
Published by Good Mountain Press in 2004
Guest Essay Selected by Bobby Matherne
©2004 by Kristina Kaine

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Thank you for the kind invitation to speak to you tonight. I hope that together we can experience something of the Archangel Michael, the mighty spiritual being who guides this present age. As I understand it, some of you have studied the teachings of Rudolf Steiner for many years; others hardly know who he is.

We can all be comforted by the fact that Steiner himself said that the essence of his teachings could be written in about 60 pages. That his teachings are recorded in 600 volumes, simply means that there are many ways to view the facts that make up what are known as the esoteric teachings. Not only that, the meaning of words is so skewed today, that often it is difficult to even understand the terms that Steiner uses (never mind that they are translated from German into English). Take the word 'esoteric' as an example. This is not a word from the X files it simply means 'inner', the inner meaning of a thing. Esoteric knowledge simply means that we pass from the superficial meaning to the depth of an issue.

In the last months of his life Rudolf Steiner saturated himself with the Archangel Michael or Mi-cha-el as Steiner preferred to pronounce it. It was his way of emphasising the need for us to direct our attention to Michael who has no real place in this world today. Furthermore, Angels and Archangels are scoffed at, despite more and more people seeing them. Science wants to medicate the person who admits to seeing these heavenly beings. Yet it is with awe and wonder that we should meet them.

We don't need to see them to know that they are real but we can tune into their work and receive personal confirmation of their presence. This could be in a variety of ways, one of which is an assuredness, a knowing that we understand things in a less superficial way than we used to.

Steiner told us that about every 3 centuries a different Archangel guides the human race. Over the last 2000 years, seven different Archangels have guided us. The mood of each Archangel in inscribed in history.

Consciousness

The essence of Michael's work has to do with thinking. Our ability to think is directly linked to the degree that we are conscious. Have we always been as conscious as we are today? Or indeed, how conscious are we today? If we were fully conscious not a thing would escape our notice. We would have instant recall about everything we encountered throughout the day. We would know which cars; make, model and colour, we passed on the road today. We could describe every person we saw during the day, what they wore, what they were doing and so on. So we can agree that we are not that conscious - but! we are becoming more conscious and the reason for this is that we are in the age of the Archangel Michael.

Consciousness does evolve; mankind has not always had the same consciousness that we have now. This is the biggest mistake made today, especially by historians and anthropologists and even philosophers. In pre-Christian times, when Michael last ruled, he gave us ready made thoughts, we were like puppets. Now it is up to us to form our own thoughts. Also, in the past our consciousness was expressed out of our feelings not our thoughts. We had a heart consciousness.

Then in the 15th Century we started to develop a personal intelligence which we detect in our head. We gradually stopped expressing ourselves from our feelings and started using our thinking. Before the 15th century intelligence was intricately tied up with our blood, our rhythmic, breathing systems; now it is connected to our nervous system and our brain.

We have reached a time in our evolution where our hearts must once again do the thinking. Our thoughts will be warmed by a measured enthusiasm. We could say that the thinking so prevalent in the world today has passed its use-by date. Everywhere we see an abstract dry thinking that pumps out complex theories and develops acronyms to the extent that they form a complete language that only 'they' understand. You would never be able to perform eurythmy to these corporate or academic languages, you would probably faint or even die.

Thinking, Feeling and Willing

Let's take a closer look at how we use our thinking, feeling and willing in daily life. By becoming more conscious of these three activities we can change them, take charge of them and see a transforming effect in our life.

One of the great mysteries in life is whether we have a soul or not. If agree that we do have a soul then where is it? And what constitutes the life of our soul? It is thinking feeling and willing that make up the life of our soul. To find our soul we only need to become aware of the zone of thinking, feeling and willing. Compare these capacities with our raw human drives and instincts, like hunger and passion, and you get the sense that they arise in the physical body just as they arise in animals. The human abilities of thinking, feeling and willing arise in our soul. In this way we are distinguished from animals.

What takes place in this zone of thinking, feeling and willing? What is the quality of our feeling? Do we let our emotions run away from us? or do we control them with thinking, do we give things a second thought before we speak or act? Is our thinking cold and calculating or do we imbue it with the warmth of our feeling? In our willing, our intentions, are we thoughtless or thoughtful? Do we act for ourselves or in the best interests of others?

In our relationship with others, when we balance feeling, thinking and willing we are warm, receptive, and compassionate. If the balance is not there we can be distant, cold and disinterested. When we observe our interaction with people we notice that different people invoke varied responses in us. This is directly related to the strength of our soul, how easily we are able to imbue our feeling with thinking and how much will there is in our feeling. Some people just press our buttons and no matter how hard we try to think rationally, all we can do is have an emotional reaction. At other times we can be cold and calculating and emotion just doesn't come into it.

In our thinking we have become very clever; when we think our feelings can be quite remote. It is interesting to observe in our speech how often we say either "I think" this, or "I feel" that. When we say "I think" it generally means that we base our statement on fact, and when we say "I feel" it is because there is an absence of facts.

All too often, we use these faculties of thinking, feeling and willing in isolation when we should be merging them so that our thoughts are warmed by our heart and our feelings are guided by head. Unless we do this, we operate more out of our body rather than from our soul. The more we are soulless the more our body suffers. Many illnesses today arise simply because we don't connect up with our soul properly. The primary way to connect up with our soul is to exercise our thinking.

Michael and Thinking

What exactly is thinking? Thinking is a sequence of images which we have stored in our memory from past experiences. They are like frames in a movie.

Thus, when we think we only re-think what is already in our memory. To make things easier on ourselves we make our thinking a habit. This has to be so because it would be exhausting if we were to think anew everything that we had every thought. We should also ask where these images come from? Many of them come from television and movies. We have become voyeurs, living our life through sitcoms and reality TV. Advertising is another source of the images that enter into us. Each of us therefore has a dictionary of images upon which we can call as we interact with each other.

Michael tries to reveal how superficial these images are. Michael has cosmic images to reveal to us but the dragon 'drags-on' us so that we see only what is superficial. This in a nutshell is the role of Michael and the Dragon in our life. Every time we feel something dragging on us, something that is making our consciousness dull, keeping us in the dark, taking away our freedom; that is the drag-on.

If we are unfamiliar with the work of a man like Rudolf Steiner, for instance, all that means is that we have no thought images of the information contained in his lectures. It is pointless for any of us to try to convince each other about the truth of Steiner's teachings. We can't see each other's reasoning because we only have your own thinking habits, our own memory pictures, by which to make sense of the words. Michael is saying to us: let me help you create some thought pictures that you can share with each other. He says: if you put some effort into it, if you can raise yourself above the superficial meaning of things I will enliven your thinking, I will enliven the pictures in your memory and enrich them so that they become living images, imaginations that you can experience.

Then we don't need to convince anyone about anything that they have not experienced themselves. We must realise that we cannot reason with someone who does not share our thought pictures, our images. What actually happens when a thought picture is not shared is that we rely on our feelings. If we try to present our reasoning to the other person to convince them of something, then it is their feelings - not their thinking - which guide them to accept what you say. If they cannot see your images, they resort to their feelings which usually sway them away from your point of view. One person operating out of feelings cannot connect with the other person operating out of thinking.

When we work with material like Steiner's he shows us a new way to view our images. We become aware of a new way to think and feel and act. As we experience the inner meaning of Steiner's ideas it is as though our thinking is being stretched and exercised. We start to create new images from ideas that come to us as if unbidden, and we get better at that. Archangel Michael is our companion in this effort. He encourages us to be objective in our thinking, not to be swayed by feelings of like and dislike. Then our vision is eased out of its habitual rut and we can flex our thinking muscles and see more deeply into issues.

How Thinking, Feeling and Willing work together.

Let's take an even closer look at how our thinking, feeling and willing works. Consider that when we look at a chair or a table we never really enter into it. We don't think of the joints and the screws, all that keeps them together - well a carpenter probably would but for the rest of us - we don't enter intimately into the material they are made of, we don't think of the tree that grew to provide the wood, we don't think of the man or machine that created them.

The inner soul activity that results from this kind of thinking, this kind of imagery gives our thinking vibrant life. Thoughts are no longer superficial theory but active, living realities. If we can be more conscious we will know that it is Michael that gives thoughts light and warmth in the heart, otherwise our thoughts remain cold, lifeless and abstract in our head. We can only bring dead thoughts to life though our inner creative will.

One of Steiner's close pupils, Carl Unger speaks clearly of the progression through thinking, feeling and willing and shows how these must not act alone. These three work in a circular motion whereby thinking acts on feeling and feeling is tempered by will, and will rises up in our thinking and so on. Unger shows how science, art and religion are intricately connected with thinking, feeling and willing. He explains how the unbalanced approach of science, art and religion is caused by the imbalance in thinking, feeling and willing.

Essentially, when thinking, feeling and willing act alone freedom is eroded. Michael is the prince of freedom, he does not impel us to walk the path, he shows us the way so that we can freely travel on it. This takes an act of will.

Will-filled thinking is particularly the way of Michael. The use of will without thinking amounts to dogma and authority. For science to take its rightful place willing must be active in thinking. Without this science takes the place of religion, science is worshipped as a dogma. Science is worshipped today isn't it? Science is god! Stand-alone thinking, without willing and certainly without feeling, without emotion, is what we find in science.

This gives us an insight into how our soul and its evolving consciousness can feel ill at ease in the modern world. The symptoms in society can be traced to the way science, art and religion displace each other. Art is seen as science, religion is overpowered by art and science becomes religion.

Art can only be real for the soul when thinking is active in feeling. A lot of art today streams from thinking and the depth of feeling that should accompany thinking is not to be found. Thinking without feeling is science. People make a science out of art which overpowers it, especially when aesthetics is seen as a science. How can beauty be a science?

Religion - and I am not speaking of church as we have it today - is a real soul process which comes about when feeling stirs our will. Feeling on its own is sentimentality, then art is seen as religion, or religion is overpowered by art. The religious feelings that are essential for us to have can be found in the sense of awe, a sense of wonder for the beauty and wisdom in the world.

Unger then says; "In pondering over this "circular process" we shall indeed grasp something of the soul's longing; yet if we look at what the longing of the soul meets with in present-day life, the crisis in the spiritual life of our time is revealed. It can truly be said that this crisis owes its origin to . the criticism that comes from the heart, from the soul itself, which cannot maintain itself as a being in the midst of modern forms of life. But feels itself annihilated. In the one-sided course of the development of science in the external, material, technical forms of life, infinitely much soul substance has been poured forth, which now turns back as though demonically on man himself. And threatens the continuance of our spiritual-soul being.(2)

Can't we see that happening in Genetically Modified cropping, Mad Cow disease and other consequences of science interfering with nature? If we look closely we can see how many modern processes are soul destroying. If we become more aware we will understand Michael's battle with the dragon.

The trick is to think more rigorously, we often do not think things through to the end, we have a few thoughts about a situation and then we drift off. If we can think things through to the end then thinking becomes seeing - we see right into the heart of a matter. That is esoteric thinking, thinking that penetrates below the surface. That is the thinking that Archangel Michael presides over. The dragon encourages us to think hastily. Michael encourages us to have living Imaginations of how he works in our consciousness so that we can foil the dragon.

In a nutshell, Michael-thinking transforms feelings and strengthens will and creates rational coherence. Thinking actually becomes a spiritual Imagination which is freed from the nervous system so we can think with our heart.

If we are observant, which we must, we will notice that in our daily life pictures rise up within us unconsciously all the time. They bubble up and influence the way we express ourselves. What we need is conscious pictures, pictures that we create. Through an effort of our will we can create new pictures continually so that our soul life becomes more and more active and energetic.

The Will Forces

To complete the picture there are a few observations to be made about our will forces. The will forces are largely unconscious forces within us that digest our food, move our blood and other fluids around our body, and do many other things that keep us alive. So the will is associated with movement. When we raise our arm it is the will at work moving all the muscles and tendons in the right way so that our arm is raised appropriately. We are unconscious of how most of this happens which is a good thing because we wouldn't have time for much else if we were to consciously direct all that life-sustaining movement in our body. It is helpful to know that our will usually arises out of our desire and desire can be a very selfish thing. Michael wants our will to arise out of love, out of thought for others. A good illustration of the difficulty of this is when you give two children a glass of cordial and the glasses are different sizes. You know how difficult it is to convince a child that they should act in the interests of others, that they should take the small glass of cordial and let their friend have the big one.

The will also operates in our thinking, but in a natural way. When we think a thought, and then correct that thinking with another thought, it is by the will that we do that. So we can see that the directive force within us is the will. When will is applied to an idea we bring about an action in the world. Mostly our will operates in our body, not our soul, and in our body the will is on automatic pilot. Our will must burst forth into our soul life and wake us up. Then we can become more and more conscious and aware of how our thinking, feeling and willing work.

When we learn to use our will in a more conscious way we can use it to strengthen our thinking. There are many exercises to assist us in this area. We can do it though concentration - concentrate on a thought or an image for 5 minutes and preventing anything from interrupting the thought.

Freedom and individuality are the key notes to Michael's mission. Freedom is not about doing what we like; freedom has to do with being conscious. Freedom means that nothing impels us. When we are hungry we are impelled to eat - that is not freedom.

The dragon works in all things that are abstract, that are not our personal experience. He also works in all that is unconscious within us. If we are to fight this adversary then our experiences must be as living and as conscious as possible. For this we need strength and courage of soul.

Through the Michael imaginations we can experience ourselves as a higher soul being, a thinking and aware being, with control over our lower nature which always wants to rise up and take over. When our thinking is filled with the appropriate will forces we will be the conqueror. Then we will work side by side with Michael with a balanced consciousness. Thank you for your attention, I hope these ideas will assist you in practical and living ways.

---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------

Footnote 1.

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Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne

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Kristina Kaine gave this talk to a Steiner School (what is called "Waldorf School in the USA) called Briar Hill Primary School in Australia.

This essay is an excellent introduction to Michaelmas, one of the neglected cardinal or hinge points of the year. Michaelmas opens the gate to Fall for us in the Northern Hemisphere, just as Christmas opens the gate to Winter, Easter to Spring, and St. John's Tide to Summer. It is a time for us to bring into our awareness the deeds of the Archangel Mi-cha-el. Mi-cha-el is the favored pronunciation because when we pronounce it that way, we acknowledge him as Micha of El or Micha of God, where El represents "of God" in all the Archangels names, such as Gabriel, Oriphiel, Samael, and Raphael, among others. It behooves us to avoid eliding the reference to "of God" by our usual two-syllable rendering of "my-kull", up until now. We do best to replace it in our daily speech with the more rhythmic and beautiful "mee-kah-ahl" (regardless of how it is spelled) from now on.

In the usual image of the Archangel Mi-cha-el, we see a youth in armor wielding sword while standing upon a writhing dragon. He has the dragon under the power of his foot and is about to slay the dragon with his sword. The dragon represents the forces of non-thinking or darkness, and Mi-cha-el represents the forces of light. Someone once wrote about this image, that the palpable writhing of the dragon indicates that it is under Mi-cha-el's control and that we are safe when Mi-cha-el is around us.

Each Michaelmas in places around the world (more so than in the USA), school children re-enact the slaying of the dragon. They built a paper mache dragon and dance around the one chosen to be Mi-cha-el until finally with a play sword he slays the dragon and all the children have tea and cookies. A similar ritual is enacted in our skies every Fall when the meteorite showers of the Leonids and Perseids rain down meteoric iron upon Earth which strengthens the Michaelic forces of the Earth.

I wish to thank Kristina Kaine for giving us persmission to publish this fine essay on Good Mountain Press in A Reader's Journal. Through her work, many more will be brought to understand why the Archangel Mi-cha-el is very important in bringing freedom and light to our world during this time.

Return to text directly before Footnote 1.

Footnote 2. Carl Unger's Language of the Consciousness Soul, a study of the Anthroposophical Leading Thought #39.

Return to text directly before Footnote 2.

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