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Twelve Moods
GA 40

Rudolf Steiner's Words before the Eurythmy Presentation of the “Twelve Moods”

29 August 1915, Dornach

Before the presentation I would like to say a few words about how relationships can be seen in everything we are attempting—in everything that we attempt and in everything that emanates from what we attempt. Without doubt there is an intense longing in our time to gain the connection between the material life and the spiritual life. On the other hand, the possibilities for fulfilling such longings are not so easy to find, for, as I have emphasized on other occasions, very few Europeans today have a clear feeling of seeking the essential nature of the other worlds connected with and lying at the basis of our world. If you consider teachings that are offered today about poetry, about art, you will frequently notice how everything artistic leads back to something higher, and yet how difficult it is for people today really to sense the connection with this higher element. For this reason we may hope that as eurythmy becomes increasingly familiar, in the way we are attempting it, it will make more accessible from a totally human aspect what is needed in order to find the relationship between the human being and the spiritual worlds.

You will often have heard from this or that group calling itself theosophical that an essential aspect of the soul life is based on becoming one with the great universal being that fills space and weaves through time. Although this longing for feeling oneself at one with the great universe is emphasized in theosophical circles with great enthusiasm and fervor, there is little inclination to take hold of the reality of this experience. Many today emphasize the form in which the extinction of the self was striven for in the Middle Ages—for example by Meister Eckhardt or Johannes Tauler—the feeling of being at one with the divinely permeated universe. Today, however, we are in a period in which this must be striven for concretely, in reality, a period in which something must really be done to lend confirmation to the great truth that the human being in his doing and his being can harmonize with the doing and being of the world. This is just what is being attempted tonight in what we will come to know through those who are pursuing this in the second phase of our eurythmy. I will only direct your attention very briefly to something that could be gathered from today's presentation.

In the second presentation1This is a reference to the eurythmy presentation of the “Dance of the Planets” (Planetentanz). It was performed on August 23, 1915 in Dornach, according to documentation in Die Entstehung und Entwickelung der Eurythmie, by Rudolf Steiner, Verlag der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, 1965. Both the German and English texts of this poem are included at the end of this article. you have seen how something that moves and is at rest is presented as an image, so to speak, of what is in the universe: the twelve-foldness that exists in the universe as the Zodiac and the seven-foldness that exists in the universe as the sequence of the planets. You have also experienced how the resting quality of the images of the Zodiac in relation to the mobile quality of the planetary nature confronted you during the presentation. Such things are possible, of course, only if this spirit of feeling at one with the universe is inherent in the whole presentation. Thus an attempt has been made to do something in which there is a very intimate consonance between the spoken word—and not simply the spoken word but also the sensations revealed—and every single movement. It will gradually be understand that in this presentation the spoken word will be only one aspect contributing to the whole. Gradually it will be understood that if the movements are done in their fullness it will be possible to recognize from the movements what is being said, just as one can read the meaning in letters of the alphabet one is looking at. One need only have learned to read, and then gradually, when the whole system is developed, it will also be possible to read what is being presented here. One will be able to read not only in accordance with the letter, with the sound, but also in accordance with the meaning.

To that end it is necessary that one have a concept of the inner experience corresponding with the meaning. As an earthly human being—wandering about aimlessly, as man does, with the beings who were cast into the abyss, into the earthly depths—a person generally, as a matter of course, errs with his thoughts and feelings during earthly existence. Yet he is able to raise himself aloft out of this erroneous thinking and feeling, to raise himself to what becomes for him, out of quiet movement, a firmer thinking or feeling. You see, the cosmos that confronts us to begin with as our solar system is only a special case. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was of God.” And in the cosmos we see the word as though congealed, the word at rest and the word in movement. One must feel it in the cosmos, however. I certainly hope that what is presented here will not be taken for all kinds of confused mysticism current today. We are not concerned here with imitating the methods of those modern astrologers who outdo all materialism with their methods, simply adding ignorant superstition to materialistic ignorance. We are concerned here instead with introducing the lawful relationships of a spiritual world that manifest in the human being just as in the cosmos. True spiritual science does not try to find human laws from the constellations of stars but rather to find human laws as well as natural laws out of the spiritual. Although this spiritual science is again and again thrown together with nonsensical mystical strivings of modern times, it has no relationship to them at all. Here, where in certain descriptions of the human being analogies with cosmic relationships are applied as the basis of a way of expression, it must be emphasized particularly that spiritual science does not wish to have anything to do with the dilettantism of modern astrologers and their crude revelations.

Thus an attempt has been made to offer a sequence of feeling, sensing, and speaking, which, as it is presented, gives, as it were, another version of the inner soul-feeling in relation to what has flowed into the movements of our solar system. The structure of twelve verses, each with seven lines, corresponds, you could say, to the outer skeleton. If you take this attempt at a twelve/seven-membered poem, however, you will see that what wishes to reveal itself is present in every detail. If you take the mood in Cancer, for example, in which after the ascent there again follows the descent, where one has the feeling that the sun comes to rest for a moment—let us simply use this picture for now; many pictures could be used—there you will be able to feel something from the way in which the words within the Cancer verse are placed.

Compare this, if you will, with the verse for Scorpio. In every verse you find exactly the mood that corresponds to the constellation in question in the heavens. This is not all that is attempted, however; if you take certain verses you will be able to experience something else as well. I will take one line from every verse, the line for the planet Mars:

In Aries: Yourself ray forth, life-wakening.
In Taurus: Through worlds imbued with being,
In Gemini: Towards a mighty prevailing of life,
In Cancer: To meet with vigor each test
In Leo: Toward the firm resolve 'to be.'
In Virgo: Work out of powers of life,
In Libra: And being stirs and causes being
In Scorpio: In becoming activity pauses.
In Sagittarius: Into prevailing will-force of life.
In Capricorn: Through inward life-withstanding
In Aquarius: May it raise itself in the current,
In Pisces: And sustain itself by sustaining.

Although in every single line the general mood of the verse is maintained, you will be able to discern the Mars mood in each of these lines taken from the sequence of seven lines; you will be able to discern what corresponds with Mars. Thus the ideal would actually be for someone, were he awakened from sleep and had one line read to him—“In becoming activity pauses”—to be able to say, “Ah, yes! Mars in Scorpio!” With another line, he would have to say, “Jupiter in Libra,” and so forth. You see, this is the opposite of any subjective arbitrariness. Being at one with the laws of the universe is really taken seriously. Here we do not merely proclaim that one should be at one with the universe; rather it is this being-at-one. We are attempting, at least, to realize this being-at-one. You will also have noticed that the gesture is held, for example, in a certain instance; you will have noticed how, as the sun circled around, the Libra mood was also beautifully maintained in the gesture, not in an affected way but only by virtue of the fact that the corresponding consonant sound is simply there. In the Libra mood you have seen everywhere the balance of the scales! It happened by itself that the gesture of Libra was maintained just there. These things occur entirely of their own accord if they are done correctly.

What is actually being attempted in something like this? It is certainly something entirely different from mere whimsy! What is attempted is to maintain in real, inner comprehension what was carried out cosmically when our solar system was created. An attempt is made really to enter into it in mood, to enter into it in doing and in everything else; it could be said that what you have seen presented here offers the possibility of creating movement, as well as concepts steeped in movement, out of what can be expressed in the following phrase:

The word weaves through the world,
world-formation holds the word fast.

Das Wort wallt durch die Welt,
Und die Weltenbildung haelt das Wort fest

In the first presentation a world relationship was also attempted, but in a somewhat different way. There you will have seen that, portrayed precisely in movement, one is dealing with verses of four lines each and that the sun makes its twelve movements along an outer circle. There are also twelve verses, but on the outer circle the sun is represented as moving through the Zodiac.

The eurythmists who stood in the middle circle expressed the planetary element, and the one who stood in the center expressed the lunar element, the moon. Thus you had sun, planets, and moon. And there was also the inner connection of the lines of verse and always the relationship of the first to the last line: the first line is always of a sun-like quality, the last of a moon-like quality. Just as the sunlight is reflected by the moon, so the last line is always a reflection.

Thus it was attempted to develop the form out of the secrets of the universe, which can then be spoken as well as expressed eurythmically in movements. When, therefore, the time comes in which one learns to read these things, it will be known unequivocally, when seeing something like this, just what is brought to expression by such a complete system of movement.

One can certainly believe that it is unnecessary to do something like this, but it is possible to have various opinions, isn't it? It is also possible to have the opinion that the human being could be dumb and need not speak. And if all human beings in this world were dumb and only a few began to speak, the others would consider speaking eminently superfluous. Such views are entirely relative, aren't they? It is only necessary to admit to the relativity of these views; then it will already be noticed that true progress in the development of humanity can be achieved only if a person engages himself in really drawing forth all the possibilities inherent in human nature.

When those working in eurythmy are also in a position to teach what now forms the second phase of eurythmy—in addition to what meets your gaze macrocosmically and had certainly to be developed in that direction—you will see that the Auftakte [Auftakteis a German word which, when used in connection with eurythmy, refers to choreographed, lawful eurythmy movements that create an introductory mood but are done without the sounds corresponding directly to those movements being audible.] that we began with will certainly need to have musical accompaniment; [To accompany performance of the “Twelve Moods,” Jan Stuten composed a piece for small orchestra.] today there was only a silentAuftakt. You will see later that a microcosmic element will be added to the macrocosmic and that there will be presentations in which something will be brought to expression just as lawfully as in human speaking itself. Later you will see compositions of eurythmy in which you will notice that there arises at precisely the right place a labial sound, and then precisely at another right place a dental sound arises; what really takes place is what arises in another way in the human being in speaking, so that the human being comes to know himself in what is accomplished in eurythmy. You will also have noticed today that those working with eurythmy will gradually learn to teach that variations in the words, variations in the significance and meaning, come to expression in various ways. You will have noticed today that a concrete word is danced in a completely different way from an abstract word, that a verb suggesting an activity is danced in a different way from a verb suggesting a passive state or a verb suggesting duration, and so on. This connection, you could say, between the brain and the speech organism you will also find presented in eurythmy.

I hope that the satire that follows will not be misunderstood. The mood coming to expression in it must not be missing where a serious spiritual scientific world view lies at the basis of one's way of life. We are certainly not toying with serious matters if we attempt to bring some humor into what is serious; in some circles that deem themselves mystical, every frivolity that assumes the caricatured mask of “spiritual depth” is considered serious, displaying itself in gestures of physical nobility and with tragically elongated faces that merely represent burlesque somersaults of spiritual life to one who really knows life. Whoever wants to be truly serious in the face of seriousness must be able to laugh about the ridiculous when the ridiculous deems itself serious. Whoever can find no humor in the humorous is also unable to be serious in the true sense when confronting what is serious. Especially where knowledge of the spirit is sought after, laughter must also be possible about the absurdities of certain “spirit seekers.” Otherwise they will make what is serious into something ridiculous among those who laugh because their laughing muscles begin to move whenever they don't understand something; or they will enrage those people who fly into a rage when they encounter something they have never “seen or heard before.”