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Curative Eurythmy
GA 315

Lecture II

13 April 1921, Dornach

Today I intend to discuss matters related to the vowel element in eurythmy. We need only to recall—as it is known to us through spiritual science—that vowels express more that which lives inwardly in man as feelings, emotions and so on. Consonants describe more that which is outwardly objective. When we remain within the realm of speech, these two statements are valid: vowels, more expression, revelation of the inwardness of feeling; we reveal ourselves to an extent in the vowel, that is to say, we reveal what we feel towards an object. Through the movements which the tongue, the lips and the palate perform, the consonants conform themselves more plastically to the outward forms of objects—as they are spiritually experienced, naturally—and attempt to reconstruct them. And so basically all consonants are more reproductions of the outward form-nature of things. However, one can actually only speak of vowels and consonants in this manner when one has an earlier stage of human evolution in mind in which in fact the evolution of speech was given and in which—since the individual sounds were always to a degree connected with movements of the body—the movement of the whole body and of the limbs as well was self-evident. This connection has been loosened, however, in the course of man's development. Speech was removed more to the interior and the possibilities of movement, of expression through movement, ceased. Today in normal life we speak largely without accompanying our speech with the corresponding movements. In eurythmy we bring back what attended the vowels and consonants as movements and thus bring the body into movement again. Now we must realize that when we pronounce vowels we omit the movement and make the vowel inward, that previously joined in the outward movement to an extent. We take something away from it on its path to the interior. We take the movement away. Thus we restore to the vowel in outer movement what we have taken away from it on its inward-going path. In the case of the vowel, matters are such that the outward movement is of exceptional importance in the search for the transferal of the effect of the vowel, eurythmically expressed, onto the whole man. That is what we must take into account here.

In speaking of vowels today, we will speak purely of the meaning of that which is eurythmically vocalized in movement. Here it is very important that one develops a feeling for what flows into the movement. That one develops a perceptive consciousness which tells one whether that which is happening in the respective human limb is a stretching, a rounding, or such. One must decidedly acquire a specific consciousness for this. In what pertains to vowels it is extremely important that one feels the movement made or the position taken up. That is what is important. Starting from here, we will transpose each of the vowels from the eurythmic into the therapeutic.

Practically demonstrated (Mrs. Baumann): a distinct “I” made by stretching both arms. This stretching should be carried out in such a way that one then returns (to the rest position; the ed.) and performs the same movement somewhat lower, returns again, and does it with both (arms) horizontal. Now we go back and, if you had the right forward at first, now, as you go lower, you must take the right to the back, and now to the front, now a bit back again, and then somewhat deeper. Now I don't want to trouble you further with that, but if one wanted to carry it out, one could make it more complicated by taking more positions; one would then start with the “I”, return, do it a little further on, go hack, a bit further on, and so forth, so that one has as many “I”-positions as possible, carried out from above to below, always returning (to the rest position; the ed.). When these movements are performed, they are an expression for the human being as a person. The entire individual person is thereby expressed.

Now we could notice for example that some child, for that matter a grown up person, cannot express himself properly as a person. He is somehow inhibited in the expression of himself as a complete individuality. He might be a dreamer in a certain sense or something similar. Or, if we think of a physical abnormality—in the case of a child, for example, that he doesn't learn to walk properly, he walks clumsily—or if in the case of an adult we notice that it would be desirable for hygienic or therapeutic reasons that the person learn to walk better, this particular exercise would be very good for this. When grown-ups step out too little in their stride, when they don't reach out properly with their steps, it always means that the circulation suffers under it. The circulation of the blood suffers under an insufficiently outreaching gait. So when people walk in this way (lightly tripping; the ed.), that has a consequence that the circulation becomes in some fashion slower than it should be in that person. Then one must attempt to have this person learn to step out again, and by having him do this exercise, one will be certain to attain one's goal. Then the person will have greater and more penetrating results in learning to walk properly. Thus one can say that in essence this modified “I”-exercise furthers those people who—I will express it somewhat radically—cannot walk properly. It can be summed up approximately so: for people who cannot walk properly.

You can extend the exercise further, and, with the addition of a sort of resumée of what Mrs. Baumann has done, it will be that much more effective Now try to do the whole exercise without bringing the arms back (to the rest position; the ed.) so that you reach the last position only by turning: turning in a plane, quick, quicker and quicker. The “I”-exercise as it was first demonstrated and described can be intensified in this way and will benefit those people who cannot walk properly. It will then be extraordinarily easy to bring them to walk properly. One can admonish them to walk properly and their efforts to walk in a different manner will bring suitable results as well.

Now Mrs. Baumann will demonstrate an “U”-exercise for us. The arms quite high up, and back to the starting position, now a bit lower, back again, a little lower, now horizontal, back again, now below, back again, and again below; that is the principle of it. And now do it straightaway so that you start above maintaining the “U” as you move downwards; and now do it increasingly quickly so that at last you reach quite a speed.

Please keep this in mind as the manner in which to execute the “U”-exercise. If I were to summarize again in the same fashion as earlier, I would call this the movement for children or adults who cannot stand. In the case of “I” we had those who cannot walk, with “U”, we have those who cannot stand.

Now not being able to stand is to have weak feet and to become very easily tired when standing. It would also mean, for example, that one could not stand long enough on tiptoe properly, or that one could not stand on one's heels long enough without immediately becoming clumsy. Standing on tiptoe or on the heels are no eurythmic exercises, but they should be practised by people who have weak legs, who tire easily while standing or who can't stand properly at all. To be unable to stand properly is to be easily tired in walking as well. That is a technical difference: to walk awkwardly and to tire in walking are two different things. When the person is tired by walking, one has to do with the “U”-exercise. When the person walks clumsily or when as a result of his whole constitution it would be desirable for him to learn to step out with his feet, that can be technically expressed as being unable to walk. However, to be tired by walking would be technically expressed as not being able to stand. And for such people the “U”-exercise is especially appropriate. This is interrelated with matters with which we must deal once we have come a bit further.

Now please do the “O”-movement: quite high up and back (to the rest position; the ed.) and now somewhat lower, back again, lower still, and so on. Now do it so that you make the “O”-movement above; feel distinctly the rounding of the arms within the movement as you glide down. When you glide down with the “O”-movement it must remain an “O”. Now increasingly faster.

You would see this exercise complete in its most brilliant application if you had here in front of you a really corpulent person. If a child or grown-up becomes unnaturally fat, then this is the exercise to be applied. By making the “O” so often and by extending it to this barrel-shaped body at the end—then it is really a barrel that one describes outside oneself—that which forms the opposite pole to those dynamic tendencies at work in making a person obese is in fact carried out. One can apply it very well hygienically and therapeutically, and you will be convinced that a tendency to become thinner actually appears when you have such people carry out this movement, especially when they practise other things as well which we have as yet to discuss. But at the same time it is of special significance in this exercise that you have the person practise only so long as he can without sweating heavily and becoming too warm. If one wishes to attain the desired effect, one must try to conduct the exercise so that the person can always rest in between.

Now Mrs. Baumann will make an “E”-movement, quite high above. It is a proper “E”-movement only when this hand lies on the other so that they touch. Now return (to the rest position; the ed.), then somewhat lower, the right hand over the left arm, and then, so that it is really effective, we will do it so that it lies increasingly further back and now again from above to below; then the “E” must be done so that it penetrates thoroughly. And now, in bringing it down, you must move (the crossing) further back, so far that you split the shoulder seam at the back. Now this is the exercise that will be especially advantageous for weaklings, that is to say, for thin people rather than fat people, for those people in whom the weakness comes distinctly from within, but is organically conditioned. It must be organically caused.

Another exercise which can be considered parallel to this should be applied with some caution as it affects the soul
more closely. It is the following: make an “E” to the rear as well as you can and as far up as you can. That really hurts. It is a movement that is in itself a bit painful and that is indeed the purpose. It should be practised with those children or adults in whom there are psychological grounds for becoming thin, such as being worn down and so on. Since one must in principle be careful in approaching from the outside with healing by such spiritual means, this too must of course be applied with caution. That means that one must inspire a child who has failed or who shows signs of depression so that he takes heart when one will have him do these exercises. If one concerns oneself with the child otherwise by comforting him and caring for his soul, then one can have him do these exercises as well.

You can see that in the case of all these things it is to a degree a matter of extending what comes to expression in artistic eurythmy in a certain manner. This is especially true in respect to the vowels.

Now it is very important that we make the following clear to ourselves. You know that the vowel element can be developed in this fashion, and that it is in essence the expression of the inward. One must only grasp through feeling and contemplation that which takes place. One must bear in mind that the person concerned, the person who carries out these things in order to be healed, must feel them; in “E” he feels that one arm covers the other. In the case of “O” however, something more comes into consideration. In “O” one should feel not only the closing of the circle, but the bending as well. One should feel that one is building a circle. One should feel the circle that runs through it. And in order to make the “O” particularly effective one should make the person doing it aware as well that he should feel as though he himself or someone else were to draw a line along his breastbone, thus by means of feeling, closing the whole to the rear in spirit; as if one were to experience something like having a line drawn on the breastbone by oneself or someone else.

Now we want to make an “A”: we return (to the rest position; the ed.), now we make an “A” somewhat lower, return again, make an “A” horizontally, back, make an “A” somewhat lowered, back, an “A” very deep, back, then to the rear; that you need to do only once, but return first (to the rest positon; the ed.). And now make the “A” above and without changing the angle bring it down, and, again without the feeling that you change the angle, to the back.

This exercise can he really effective only if one has it clone frequently. And when one has it repeated frequently, it is the exercise to be used with people who are greedy, in whom the animal nature comes particularly strongly to the fore. So if you have in school a child who is in every way a proper little animal, and in whom the condition has an organic cause, when you have him do this exercise, you will see that it has for him a very particular significance.

In the case of these exercises you can observe once again that if they are to be introduced into the school it will be necessary to organize the children into groups especially for them. You will soon become convinced that the children do these exercises much less gladly than the other eurythmic exercises. While they are eager to do the others, one will most likely have to persuade them to do these, as they will react at first as children often react to taking medicine: with resistance. They won't be particularly happy about it, but that is of no especial harm in the exercises having to do with “O”, “U”, “E”, and “A”; in the case of “I” it is somewhat harmful when the child doesn't enjoy it. One must try to reach the stage where the children delight in the “I”-exercise as we have clone it. In the case of the others, “U”, “O”, “E”, and “A”, it is not especially damaging if they carry out the exercise on authority, and knowing that it is their duty to do it. With “I” it is important that the children have pleasure in doing it as it affects the whole individual, as I have said

You will profit further by coming to terms with the following: the “I” reveals man as a person, the “U” reveals man as man, the “O” reveals man as soul, the “E” fixes the ego in the etheric body, it permeates the etheric body, strongly with the ego. And the “A” counteracts the animal nature in man.

Now we will follow the various workings further. If you have a person with irregular breathing, who is in some fashion burdened clown by his breathing and such like, you will be able to bring this person to normal breathing by applying the vowels. You will be able to achieve in particular the distinct articulation of the consonants by means of these exercises, as that is greatly facilitated through the practice of the vowels. When you notice that certain children cannot manage to form certain consonants with the lips or the tongue—for the palatal sounds (Gaumenlaute) it is less applicable, although for the labial and lingual sounds exceptionally good—it will be of great help to the children with difficulties in this respect, when one tries to have them do such exercises as early as possible.

You will also notice that when people tend to chronic headaches, to migrane-like conditions, these can be appreciably alleviated through the practice of the vowels. So in the cases of chronic headaches and chronic migrane symptoms, as well as when people are foggy-headed, these things will be particularly applicable. Similarly, if you employ the exercises which we have done today for children who cannot pay attention, who are sleepy, you will awaken them in a certain sense to a state of awareness. That is a hygienic-didactic angle of a certain significance. It will be observed that sleepy-headed adults can definitely be awakened in this way as well. And then one will notice that when a person's digestion is too weak or too slow, that by means of these exercises this slow digestion and all that is known to be connected with it, can be changed for the better.

In certain forms of hygienic eurythmy it would be good to have the movements—which are carried out with the arms only in artistic eurythmy—done with the legs as well where possible, only somewhat less forcefully, as I am about to describe. Now you will ask how one can make an “I”, for example, with the legs? It's very easy. One must only stretch out the leg and feel the stretching in it. The “U” would be simply to stand with full awareness on both legs, so that one has a distinct stretching feeling in both. “O” with legs must be learned, however. One should really accustom the people with whom one finds it necessary to do the “O”-exercise ih the manner that I have described, to do the “O” with the legs as well. That consists in pointing the toes somewhat, but only very slightly, to the outside and then trying to stand in this manner and hold one's position. One must thereby stand on tiptoe, however, and bend outward, remain so standing a moment and then return to the normal position; then build it up again and so on.

It is necessary to take into account the relationship existing between the possibilities of organically determined inner movement in the middle man and the lower man. This is such that movement done for the lower man should be carried out at only one-third the strength. Thus when you have someone carry out the “O” movement as we have seen it, you must have the feeling that what is done later for the legs and feet requires only one-third of the time and thus only a third of the energy expended. It will be especially effective, however, when you place this in the middle, so that you have, let us say, A and then A again, with B, the foot movement, in the middle (see the table); it will be particularly effective to have them together.

       one-third         one-third         one-third
           A                 B                 A
          Arm               Foot              Arm

It will also be especially effective to do the same in connection with the “E”-exercise for the feet, by really crossing the feet.

Figure 1

But one must stand on tiptoe and lay one leg over the other so that they touch. Again, one-third, and placed, if possible, in the middle. That is something which it would be particularly good to have done by children, and by adults as well, who are weaklings. They will naturally be hardly capable of doing it, but that is exactly why they must learn to do it. In precisely these matters one sees that that which it is most important for various people to learn is that which they are most incapable of doing. They must learn it because it is necessary to the recovery of their health.

“A” (with the legs; the ed.) is also necessary; I have already demonstrated it to you yesterday. It consists in assuming this spread position while standing insofar as it is possible on tiptoe. That should also be introduced into the A-movement and it will be particularly effective there.

Now one can also intensify all the exercises that we have just described by carrying them out in walking. And you will achieve a great deal for a weak child, for example, when you teach him to do the “E”-motion as we have just done it in walking; he should walk in such a manner that he always touches each leg alternately. In taking a step forward he crosses over first with one leg, then with the other, so that he always crosses one leg over the other, so that he places one leg at the hack and touches it with the other in front. Naturally he won't move ahead very well, but it is good to have this movement carried out while walking. You will say that complicated movements appear as a result; but it is good when complicated movements appear.

Now I want to bring it to your attention that what we have said about the vowel element should be sharply distinguished to begin with from what we will practice tomorrow in respect to the consonants. The consonantal element is such that it generally expresses the external, as we have already said. In speech as well the consonant is so formed that a reconstruction, an imitation of the outer form comes into being through the formative motions of lips and tongue. Now the consonants have, as we will see tomorrow, very special sorts of movements and it lies within these forms of movement to make the consonant inward again in a certain manner by giving it eurythmic form. It is internalized. That which it loses in the outward-going path of speech is restored to it. And, whether one is contemplating them in eurythmy as art or performing them for personal reasons, in the case of consonants it is particularly important to have, not a feeling in the way one does with a vowel, a feeling of stretching, of bending, or of widening and so on, but to imagine oneself simultaneously in the form that one carries out while making the consonants, as though one were to observe oneself.

Here you can see most clearly that one must admonish the artistic eurythmists not to mix the two things; the artistic eurythmists would not do well to observe themselves constantly as they would rob themselves of their ability to work unselfconsciously. On the contrary, when you have a child or a grown-up carry out something having to do with consonants, it is important that they photograph themselves inwardly in their thought as it were; then in this inward photographing of oneself lies that which is effective; the person must really see himself inwardly in the position that he is carrying out and it must be performed in such a manner that the person has an inner picture of what he does.

If you would be so good (Miss Wolfram) as to show us an “M” as a consonant, first with the right hand, now with the left, but taking it backwards, now taking the right hand back, and “M” with the left hand and now with both hands, that can be multiplied in various ways, of course. Now an “M”—we will start with this example; to begin with, what is it as speech? In speech “M” is an extraordinarily important sound. You will experience its importance in speech, and in speech physiology as well, if you contrast it with the “S”. Perhaps Mrs. Baumann will make a graceful “S” for us now, right, left, and now with both hands.

Figure 2

Now to begin with it appears that you have the feeling, or should have the feeling when the “S” is done that you encounter something within you—it is the etheric body namely (at this point Dr. Steiner made the corresponding movement; the ed.); so that you have a snake-like line. This serpentine may approach a straight line in the case of a particularly sharply pronounced “S” and can even be represented as a straight Iine. By contrast, when you look at the “M” that was just performed, you should have the feeling—even when the organic form is carried out inwardly—that it is really not the same thing. And so the “M” is that which counters the “S”-direction when laid against it and that is in essence the great polarity between an “S” and an “M”; they are two polar sounds. “S” is the truly Ahrimanic sound, if I may speak anthroposophically, and the “M” is that which mitigates the properties of the Ahrimanic, makes it mild; if I may express it so, it takes its Ahrimanic strength from it. So when we have a combination of sounds directly including “S” and “M”, for example “Samen” (seed) or “Summe” (sum), we have in this combination of sounds first the strong Ahrimanic being in “S”, whose sting is then taken from it by the “M”.

Figure 3

Perhaps you will make a “H” for us (Miss Wolfram). When you really look at the “H”, when you feel yourself really within this “H”, then, you will say to yourself: there is something in this “H” which reveals itself as unequivocally Luciferic. It is the Luciferic in the “H”, then, which comes to expression here. And now try to observe yourself—here the feeling is less important than the contemplation of it—try to observe yourself, when Mrs. Baumann does it for us now, how it is when one does the “H” and allows it to go over immediately into an “M”. Make the “H” first and let it carry over by and by into an “M”. Now take a look at it. In this movement you have the whole perception of the mitigation of the Luciferic, of its sting being taken from it, brought to expression. The movement is truly as if one would arrest Lucifer. And, one can also hear it if you simply think about it—today's civilized man can actually no longer reflect properly on these things. If someone wants to agree to something Luciferic, but immediately diminishes the actual Luciferic element, the eagerness of his assent, then he says, “Hm, hm”. There you have the “H” and the “M” placed really very close to one another and you have the whole charm of the diminished Luciferic directly within it.

From this you can see that as soon as one turns to the consonantal element, one must immediately turn to the observation of the form as well. That is the essential thing and tomorrow we will speak about it further.