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A READER'S JOURNAL
The Archangel Michael, GA# 67
His Mission and Ours
Published by The Anthroposophic Press in 1994
Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2003
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In the Introduction to this collection of twenty-three Steiner lectures on the Archangel Michael, Christopher Bamford sums up the book admirably:
[page 9] Michael cannot fulfill his mission without humanity's cosmic vocation of freedom, individuality, and love. Human beings, too, depend on Michael for the fulfillment of their task . . . His great joy is helping those who of their own free deed enter the ranks of those collaborating in the great work of the invisible.
Since you, dear Reader, are reading this of your own free deed, you are enrolling in Michael's school. Since you might want to know what the curriculum is, the rest of this review will be devoted to explaining the nature of humanity's task as we near the mid-point of the Michael Age. In ARJ: Karmic Relationships, Volume 8, I gave a chronology of the Archangel Ages which shows the approximate dates of the rulership of each Archangel. Clearly the rulership of Michael began near the end of the 1879 and extends for about three hundred and twenty years or so from then. Steiner once wrote that anthroposophy was actually born in 1880, the first year of Michael's reign. The significance of this statement will become clear later in this review as we probe the relationship of this Michael Age and anthroposophy.
The Appendix of this book contains a treatise by Johannes Trithemius that he wrote for the Emperor in 1508. In it he outlines the history of the world from Creation in year 1 to the onset of the current Michael Age in year 7086 (1879 A. D.). In a brief seventeen pages, he lists the major biblical, religious, and political events and places them chronologically into their correct Archangel Age. Not only chronologically, but logically according to the characteristics of the Archangel of the age. This Appendix is a handy reference to the characteristics of the various Archangels and to the overall progress during the various phases of an Age.
Trithemius uses an exact period of 354 years and four months for each Age, but says, "There are some who believe that these periods correspond to lunar month." This indicates an uncertainty in the exact number of years of an Age. Steiner's notebook gives periods ranging from 320 years to 369 years.
Here is an example of his description of the first rule of Archangel Samael, which describes the major theme of his Age as well as the progression of Ages in general.
[page 301] Samael ruled for 354 years and 4 months and impressed his influence strongly upon humanity. Under Samael's reign, in the year of the world 1656, the universal flood occurred, as the Book of Genesis clearly shows. It is a remarkable fact, as the ancient philosophers tell us, that each time Samael, the Genius of Mars, governs the world, a complete change occurs in some great monarchy: religions and castes are overturned; great persons and princes are exiled; laws are changed as one can easily see in the historians. Such changes do not occur right at the beginning of Samael's reign, but only as it enters its second half. The same is true for all the other planetary Spirits, as history shows. That is, the influence of the secondary powers [Archangels] reaches its height when the stars reach the zenith of their revolution.
It has been about 120 years since the rulership of Michael began in late in the year 1879. We are nearing the midpoint of the current Age, so we can expect that Michael's influence is nearing its height as I write these words in 1999.
Let's look at the deeds of humanity during previous Michael Ages [Using the Trithemius treatise and dating system]:
Michael Age I (2126 to 2480): first King appears; Nimrod the first to use coercion; mathematics, astronomy, and magic were invented; first beginnings of agriculture and civilization.
Michael Age II (4606 to 4960): first King of the Hebrew people; reign of Balthasar; Romans designated two Consuls annually; Pythagoras in Greece; Temple rebuilt in Jerusalem; Gauls sacked Rome; Socrates and Plato taught in Greece; Alexander came into power right at the end of the Age.
Michael Age III (7086 to 7430): This Age began in 1879 A.D. when Rudolf Steiner reached the age of 18. Anthroposophy founded; great cosmopolitan areas flourished around the world in London, New York, and Tokyo, to name just a few; the history of this Age is being written every day. One prophetic remark by Trithemius appears on page 308, "And freedom will not be given to the Jews again until the third period of Michael . . ." This seems clearly to predict the creation of the country of Israel in the middle of the 20th Century.
In English we pronounce "Michael" as two syllables, "MY-KUL", but the final syllable "el", the name of God, is the last syllable of all the seven Archangels's names. It means, e.g., in Raphael "Rapha" of God. George Adams (page 29) is quoted as saying that we pronounce Michael "in effect as though we should say raffle instead of Raphael." Steiner once upbraided George for slurring the name of Michael by saying it as two syllables instead of the correct three syllables: Mi-cha-el or ME-KA-ELL.
Like every human has a guardian Angel, every folk has an Archangel assigned as folk spirit for the entire folk, whose job is to regulate the relationship of individual humans with the whole of a people or a race. The next level, Archai, is the top level of the Third Hierarchy, and one Archai or Spirit of Personality takes the role of Spirit of an Age or Time Spirit. What is the job of the Time Spirit?
[page 36, 37] You will readily understand that what must be done on earth must be done largely by earthly individualities. Certain epoch-making personalities have to appear at certain particular times. Utter confusion would reign in evolution if this were left to chance, if, for instance, a Luther or Charlemagne were to appear quite arbitrarily in one era or another. we must realize the significance of this in regard to the whole human earthly evolution: the right souls must appear at a particular moment in the overall pattern of earthly evolution, as it were. This is regulated by the Spirits of Personality or Archai. . . .
The Prologue includes many references in historical literature to Michael, both Christian and Hebrew. Christ may be thought of as sunlight, and Michael as reflected sunlight. Jehovah as the Moon being worshiped by the ancient Hebrews was known to them as Jehovah-Michael. Michael was the countenance of Jehovah, the Archangel through which Jehovah revealed himself to the ancient Hebrews.
Beginning with the advance of scientific materialism in the 16th Century, humans after death in the physical world began to enter the spiritual world with a progressive diminution of consciousness that culminated in a second crucifixion of Christ in the Angelic realms in the 19th Century.
[page 52] Twice already Christ has been crucified: once physically, in the physical world at the beginning of our era, and a second time spiritually, in the nineteenth century, in the way described above. It could be said that humanity experienced the resurrection of His body in that former time and will experience the resurrection of His consciousness from the twentieth century onward.
During the previous Gabriel Age from 1510 to 1879, the forces of Gabriel were directed to the development of the human brain. In the progressing Michael Age, the forces of Michael are being directed to flow into the human soul as Imagination and Inspiration.
[page 56] Michael does not work so much for the spiritual investigator, the initiate, but for those who wish to understand spiritual investigation, for those who are striving to achieve active thinking.
In this progressing Age, Michael is up for promotion. The highest of the Archangels, whom, in comparison to the other Archangels, Steiner likens to the Sun in comparison to the planets, Michael will pass over into the nature of Archai. As Time Spirit he will guide the whole of humanity. How will this show up in the material world? Every process in the spiritual world has an imprint in the material world, if one knows how to locate it. Basically the human personality that formerly has come from below, from Lucifer, will henceforth come from above, from the spiritual world. The blood and temperament that formerly were the hallmarks of personality will diminish and the Michael Impulse will infuse our soul with personality directly from the spiritual world.
[page 59] In the future, the strength of human deeds will come from the strength of the spiritual influences working into these human deeds.
Whenever someone is promoted to a higher job, the thought comes, "Who will take the vacated job?" To understand who will take Michael's place as Archangel, we must look for an Angel whose job has been completed. Since guardian Angels keep track of an individual from lifetime to lifetime, what happens to an Angel when its human ward escapes the wheel of reincarnation and no longer returns to an earthly life? That Angel is then ready for promotion to Archangel. Thus we can understand that it is the Angel of the Bodhisattva born as Gautama Buddha (who escaped the wheel of reincarnation) that will ascend to the rank of Archangel to replace Michael.
Steiner has said in several places that "evil is a good that is applied out of its time" for example, he hinted that having Luther or Charlemagne born in the wrong time would have led to utter confusion. The laws of nature, while good in their time, are not so if they are still used to construct a world view in the present Age. In a similar fashion, those people who favor a new technology that builds government without coercion are not against the coercive State, only against those who, in spite of the new technology, want a continuation of the coercive State. Or as Peter Koenig says in his e-article, "The McDonaldisation of Occulture", in referring to "ritualistic babbling about yoga, Kabbalah, gnosis, rituals and, for example Crowley": "The claimed expansion of consciousness turns out to be a simple reconfiguration of the world in order to permit things to go on in the same way as before." These attempts to hold fast to a good whose time is past will build up the strength of a fearful dragon lest we persist in our service of Michael.
[page 63] Michael did not fight the present dragon in ages past, for then the dragon now meant was not yet a dragon. . . . Michael overcoming the Dragon is an important imagination. To receive the inflow of spiritual life into the sense world: this is the service of Michael from now on. We serve Michael by overcoming the Dragon that is trying to grow to its full height and strength in ideas, which during the past epoch produced materialism and which now threatens to live on into the future. To defeat this dragon means to stand in the service of Mi-cha-el. That is the victory of Michael over the Dragon.
I wish to point out that "to defeat this Dragon" means nothing less than to exterminate it, to kill it not to push it to the ground and say, "Bad boy, don't do that again." The Dragon's nature is to grow and any temporary setback will not deter it from once again rearing its ugly head among the very humans who timidly scowled and pestered the Dragon instead of killing it, even in play during a Michaelmas celebration. Such a key element of the Michael curriculum should not be toyed with or watered down, especially for the very youngsters on whom we rely to continue the battle after us.
How are we to go into battle with the "Dragon" amongst us, those Ahrimanic beings who were cast out of the spiritual realms for attempting to flow a good to earth before its time? In 1879 the "Dragon" was the Angeloi , and once more they were defeated by Michael in the spiritual world and cast into the earthly-human world, where they are unable to prevent spiritual knowledge from flowing down to us, but endeavor to spread this knowledge prematurely among humans.
[page 65] The only way to combat the influence of these Ahrimanic Beings is to realize that nothing avails against some of Ahriman's aims, except to see through him, to know that he is there. . . . Human beings in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch must evolve to the stage where they can address the Ahrimanic Beings and Powers as Faust addresses Mephistopheles: "In thy Nothingness I hope to find the all." We must resolve to look into that realm where materialism see "Nothingness" and see the spiritual world . . .
We must be ready to apply a clarity of thinking if we are to ever have a chance "to see in the right light the ripened truths which are to fall from the spiritual world." If we allow ourselves to be confused by such materialistic theories as Darwinian evolution which claims that we descended from animals, "our souls will be confronted with the sorry fate of having to perceive its resemblance to its own thought!" (Quotes from pages 69, 70.) In the "nothingness" of Darwin's theory of evolution, we'll see our all. One might say truly, "I'll be a monkey's uncle if I'll believe in Darwinian evolution!"
In thinking about the materialistic scientist's view of evolution, I imagined that I was sitting at a table as I watched someone lay down an entire suit of cards from right to left in the order of King to Ace. Later a materialistic scientist comes into the room and finds the array of cards on the table. "Aha!" the scientist exclaims, "Note how the cards are arranged. They were laid down from left to right in ascending order! See how the Deuce follows the Ace, the Trey the Deuce, the Four the Trey, and thus it proceeds all the way up to the highest card, the King! This shows truly the evolution upward through the species of cards!" In Steiner's view of evolution the cards are laid down in a reverse order, but the result is the same and thus the Darwinian evolutionist can make a good case using the empty "nothingness" of logic for a progression up the chain of the animal kingdom to the human kingdom. These materialistic evolutionists will be accurate in their logic and thinking and completely incorrect in their conclusions. If I later re-entered the room and explained that I had actually seen the person lay down the cards in the reverse order of their rationalistic deductions, all my words would be to no avail. "How can you prove this?" they would ask me, "Show us your reasoning." Thus is the power of abstract thoughts to counter really effective perceptions and thoughts, up until now.
Rightly understood, materialistic medical doctors with all their armamentarium of drugs do not heal sick people, but rather attempt to help them temporarily escape the results of their folly a folly that begins in their thoughts. Directly the presenting problem is alleviated and some other problem surfaces, which requires another drug, another diagnostic test, and offers hope that this time the person will be healed without having to change the inner disposition that was at the root of the original problem. EAT-O-TWIST! Everything Allways Turns Out The Way It's Supposed To, where the supposing begins in the reality of our thoughts.
[page 71] What we think ourselves to be, that we are obliged to become. This is a truth that was destined, after the great changes in the nineteenth century, to find its way to humanity.
We are what we think but the "Spirits of Darkness inspired human beings to proclaim that 'We are what we eat.'" (page 71) And it is this principle that drives modern medicine to find the right chemical, the right drug, the right genetic alteration that will prove that only what we put into our physical bodies by the way of physical substances will make any difference in our lives. Missing the point, that we become what we think, not only affects us here on Earth, but it has a major impact on the time between life and death when we carry these thoughts into that time as our reality. There is also a major effect on those here on Earth who do not believe the dead lives on.
[page 74] Only by sustaining the thought that the dead lives on, can one guard oneself, as well as others, against the link with the dead becoming a source of danger to those who have been left behind. Indeed, in a certain sense the same applies to the dead themselves, who under an eternal, wisdom-filled law are compelled to lurk in the survivors in such a way that this influence remains subconscious and manifests, ultimately, as illness.
In his book Multiple Man [Click at left to read my ARJ1 review.], Adam Crabtree relates many stories of dealing with just such "lurking" by the dead in the survivors and how he helped the survivors simply by accepting the reality of the dead and convincing them to leave the bodies they had been lurking inside of. From my review of that book:
And we meet confused spirits who have wandered in a heavy mist for years after their death. One of these was a dead father who, unbeknownst to himself, was trapped in his daughter's body. When asked to examine his body, he exclaimed, "I'm female!" That helped to convince him that the voice he was hearing in the mist (Crabtree) was telling him the truth about his living in his daughter's body. Once he had received the full information about his status, he soon moved on into the spirit world.
In the various places where Steiner has talked about the stages of evolution, it is tempting to understand these stages as occurring sequentially in time from the earliest human time of Old Saturn progressively through Old Sun, Old Moon, to our present day Earth. From here we look to the future to our Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan stages. Steiner recommends that we picture the stages of our evolution as interpenetrating each other. As one reviews one's school career, if one is in the Fourth Grade, one can look back to Grades 1, 2, 3 and forward to Grades 5, 6, 7, 8. But all the while one is surrounded by others who are in those other Grades. Exactly so, we must picture all of the stages of evolution co-existing on Earth and the levels higher than our human stage interpenetrating each other and us.
[page 101, 102] Imagine now the following. Picture the surface of an ocean and a person wading there, moving forward through the water, with only the head protruding. This is an image but only an image of our present human situation. From this point of view, all that has made the head what it is today must be reckoned as belonging to the fourth evolutionary level, while everything through which the human being is wading or (we might say) swimming, we would have to call the eighth evolutionary stage.
The eighth evolutionary stage is the realm of the Spirits of Form, which are variously called elsewhere Powers or Exousiai or Elohim. In one of his lectures Steiner says that when we are doing hand work, our body excluding our head is infused with these Spirits of Form - essentially every part of our organism not involved with sense perception.
To understand how to balance Luciferian and Ahrimanic influences in our lives, we must be able to perceive these influences. When we are carried away in fantasies, i.e., we go out of our heads, we are dealing with, under the influence of, Luciferic forces. When we are most in our bodies, feeling heavy and materialistic, we are dealing with, under the influence of, Ahrimanic forces. As Tom Mellett puts it: Lucifer would turn us into moral automatons (moral, but unfree humans) and Ahriman would turn us into amoral, but free humans. Lucifer rules our blood, and Ahriman our bones. When our blood becomes feverish, we hallucinate (notice "Luci"lurking in that word). When our bones extend their tendency to the rest of our body we become sclerotic or arthritic (notice "Ahri" lurking in that word), and various parts of our body begin to solidify and stiffen.
[page 104, 105] As human beings we are the point of balance between the blood and the bones, just as we must strive for the psychological balance between visionary excesses and dry philistinism.
Imagine a balance scale in which on are side are the Luciferic influences and on the other side are the Ahrimanic influences. It is clear what influence is predominant when one side is lower than the other, but what does the scale in balance represent? Steiner says it represents the Christ-Impulse. This balance scale is an important image as it provides an antidote for the pervasive attempt of moralists and religious zealots to contrast only the polarities of good and evil, and whenever they do so, one side of the scale will be chosen as good and the other side as evil. This is the inherent danger of our neglecting the two faces of the Devil, Lucifer and Ahriman! When we blur the two into one being and call one side of the scale good and the other evil, we are basically suggesting that some evil should be sought as if it were a good. Steiner points out on pages 108 to 112 that Milton did this in his Paradise Lost epic poem in which the "paradise" was a Luciferian heaven from which humanity was expelled into an Ahrimanic realm , and takes Goethe to task for lumping the two sides of the scale into one Mephistopheles in his classic work Faust. One needs little practice to be able to recognize when speakers are tilting the scale in one direction or another. They either wish you to find freedom their way (to become their robot) or they wish you to be free to do what you wish with other's lives, thoughts, and property (to be amoral). Lacking the balancing influence of Christ and Michael, we are liable to soar to the heavens like Icarus and come crashing to Earth when our wings melt from the heat of the Sun. One interesting aspect involves evolution because those who claim humans descended from animals are apparently unaware that "only what is Luciferic in human beings has this animal origin." (Page 123)
[page 125] And first of all we must correct the great error that had to precede this change in thinking, namely, the materialistic interpretation of evolutionary theory which sees the whole human being as descended from the animal.
In 1999 we have seen several states and school boards in the USA remove the word evolution from their teaching guidelines, so as to remove the requirement that their teachers teach only Darwinian evolution. This is a sign of the beginning of the necessary correction that Steiner speaks of in the above quote. We must become aware in the midst of this great Michael Age that what we think and say becomes reality.
[page 127] For true as it is, as the Prologue to the Gospel of St. John says, that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us," it is also true that we have to add, "and human flesh must again be permeated by the spirit in order that it may dwell in the realm of the Word and behold there the secrets of divinity." That the Word became flesh the Incarnation is the first Michael-Revelation. The spiritualization of the flesh must be the second.
In my essay "Art is the Process of Destruction" I emphasize that art, true art, rightly understood, is not pretty, because it involves the destruction of the sameness that we have become inured to over time, and most people resent it when some new artist destroys artistic illusions they have worked hard to acquire. Here is Steiner saying something similar about art:
[page 137] Hence, if we really wish to grasp what art is, we must never forget that its fundamental concern must always and forever be to depict the battle between beauty and ugliness. Reality is achieved only by seeking a state of balance between them, and not when we accept the one-sided reality intended for us by Lucifer and Ahriman.
Steiner was not taken in by the promises of the workers's revolution of his time. Here he analyzes the battle cry of the proletariat, "Workers of the World, Unite!" and shows its paradoxical nature which so confuses our human understanding that its adherents will follow it blindly and its opponents will be unable to oppose it effectively out of the inner confusion the slogan engenders in both.
[page 175[ For what does this slogan really mean? It means: Nurture antipathy, as proletarians, against the other classes, nurture something similar to hate as single individuals, and then to unite, which is to say, love one another. Unite your feelings of hatred, develop love of your class a love for comrades of a common class born out of hate. Love each other out of hatred! . . . If I may use so paradoxical an expression, something actually exists in the nature of an anti-method that uses our own modern way of thinking to veil the sway of our instinctual life, making it especially vulnerable to attack by the Ahrimanic beings I have been describing.
Take a break from reading this review and focus on the four dots in the picture below for about thirty seconds. Then close your eyes and focus on the circle of light that appears.
The afterimage you saw that gradually disappeared, was it just a subjective process?
[page 185, 186] Modern physiologists say it is, but that is not correct. The afterimage is an objective process in the cosmic ether, in the same sense that the presence of carbon dioxide in the air we exhale is an objective process. You imprint an image upon the cosmic ether. You yourself experience it only as a gradually disappearing afterimage. But it is not just a subjective process; it is an objective process. Here you have something objective. You have the possibility of recognizing how something that takes place within you is simultaneously a subtle cosmic process.
But it doesn't just happen with images, but with everything we say and do in the world.(1) If someone raises a question about whether some activity is safe, the afterimage of that thought stays with us, sometimes for years. Unless and until we accept that what happens inside us has the reality of objective processes, we hold ourselves to being radio receivers when in actually we are both receivers and transmitters in the cosmic ether. Radio waves may seem to have no objective reality to people who don't possess radio receivers, but let them acquire radio receivers and hear the transmissions from others and themselves, then they will understand the objective nature of radio waves.
In our time we have become, to the spiritual Beings who guide us, like teenagers are to the average parent they do things with their bodies, with their clothes, with their music, and with their lives that few parents can understand. If we get most upset by things others do that we are also doing, but outside of our awareness, then it becomes understandable why the strange, independent behaviors of our teenagers should upset us so: we are doing equally strange things in the eyes of our spiritual parents.
[page 195] Since the first third of the fifteenth century . . . when divine-spiritual Beings look down to the earth . . . they find things everywhere fundamentally alien to them: they find that human beings are doing things on earth which they themselves planned solely in accordance with the phenomena and processes of earthly existence. To the Gods with whom we live between death and rebirth, this is an entirely alien attitude.
In August of 1999, I gave this lecture twice in California on doyletics in which I promised that the three bugaboos of humanity, anxiety, fear, and hate were endangered species from now on. [I point the reader to the twist in which I referred to things as "endangered species" that we don't want. ] I gave these speeches during the time of the Perseid meteor shower. Steiner tells us that this shower of meteoric iron should be pictured as the "iron of Michael's sword" and that its effects radiate into our very life's blood as scintilla of tiny meteorites in the iron of our hemoglobin.
[page 221] This human blood, which is in truth not such a material thing as contemporary science imagines, but is permeated throughout by impulses from soul and spirit, is rayed through by the force which is carried as iron into the blood and wages war there on anxiety, fear, and hate. . . . The effect of the raying in of the iron [from the meteors] is to drive fear and anxiety out of the blood.
What is the stand that Michael and his spirits take among us human beings? It is this:
[page 261] I am the ruler of the Intelligence. And the Intelligence must be so ruled that there shall not enter into it any illusion or false fantasy, nor anything that would restrict the human being to a dark, vague, cloudy vision of the world.
Rather we shall be guided by an "inner sun" during the course of our lives here on earth. We will meet with Michael in his office, so to speak, by transposing ourselves into the spiritual realms.
[page 293] This will enable human beings to travel their true path of freedom between seduction by Luciferic illusions in their thinking and living, and Ahrimanic enticement into a future shape of things that satisfies their conceit but does not rightly belong to them in the present epoch.
To fall victim to Luciferic illusions means to fall short of becoming fully human, that is, to fail to make the effort to progress to the stage of freedom, remaining content to stay at the earlier evolutionary divine-human level. To fall victim to Ahrimanic enticement means being unwilling to wait for the right cosmic moment to come to a certain stage of humanness and instead to take this stage prematurely.
How will we find our way through this maze of Luciferic and Ahrimanic snares? Only by holding at all times the image of Michael-Christ before us as our spiritual compass as we travel through to the world destination. Only this way will we be able to "see the cosmic nature of freedom in spiritual-scientific illumination."(page 293)
[page 294] This not meant with reference to my Philosophy of Freedom, a work based on purely human cognitive powers, when they can be applied to the realm of the spirit. . . . But it might be said that The Philosophy of Freedom prepares the reader for an understanding of freedom that can become actual experience of spiritual communion with Michael.
Rightly understood, philosophy is the primrose path to becoming a free, but amoral being to the delight of Ahriman. An easy path, but one leading to perdition or loss of soul.
[page 297] If we were to accept the present state of things, and be content to let only that universal rule of natural law conceived by a morally neutral intellect prevail, while restricting ourselves to a merely mental experience of freedom, we would be led in this age, when evolution must continue into ever deeper regions of the soul in order to counterbalance those higher ones in which freedom reigns to Ahriman, who would like to see the contemporary world turn into a purely intellectual cosmos.
Only by "looking outward in spirit [to] see Michael and looking inward [to] see the Christ"can we travel in security and certainty along the path to our truly human future.
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Bradford Riley pointed out to me how the objective after-image of events can occur. These occur in everyones life, but after a person has killed someone, the after-images are common, as one sees portrayed in movies in the twenty-first century. The image of the person becomes visible to the killer, haunting their dreams, but also their waking life. This is the inverted image of the event or in other words, the image of how the karmic deed must be overcome.
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Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne
See also An Outline of Occult Science by Rudolf Steiner.
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