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Curative Eurythmy
GA 315

Lecture VII

18 April 1921, Dornach

Held before physicians

(held before physicians)

In respect to particulars you will find it necessary to elucidate what I have to tell you today about eurythmy through your knowledge of physiology and so on. How that can he done will reveal itself to you as if of its own accord, if I may say so. When we look into a spiritual-corporeal process such as that which takes place in eurythmy, we may do no less than to indicate the deeper spiritual-physical connections as well. Thus I would like to draw your attention to the following.

First we must contemplate that extra-human world process which one usually traces only in its details and not in regard to what is actually inwardly active. Just consider what earth formation is, in reality: a formative tendency works from the planetary sphere inward. And furthermore, from what lies without the planetary sphere a formative working into the earth takes place: continuous, radiant cosmic forces revealing themselves in the individual potentialities (“Kraftentitäten”, entities of force) radiating towards the earth.

In this connection we may conceive of these cosmic powers as working centripetally and building up that which is on and in the Earth from without—although they encompass all that I have said about such rays previously as well. The fact is that the metals of the Earth as a whole, for example, are not in essence formed out of some force or another within the Earth, but are actually set into the Earth from the Cosmos. Now these forces that work through the ether can be called formative forces, formative forces working in from outside and not from the planets, for in that case they would work towards the centre; the planets are there for the specific purpose of modifying them, that is, the planetary sphere. Please take note of them in precisely this context: the formative forces. In opposition to them stand those forces in the human being and in the earth which take up those formative forces and make them fast, which assemble them around a point so that the earth can come into being. Those forces which make secure we may thus call the consolidating forces (“Kräfte des Befestigens”) (please see the following diagram, and the one shown on page 81.)

Figure 1

In the human being they are present as the forces that build up the organs plastically, whereas the other forces, the formative forces, have more to do with propelling the organs out of the spiritual-etheric world into the physical world. That is a process which becomes so tangible in the contrast between the propulsive powers of magnesium and the rounding-off forces of fluorine. It is a process active every-where: in the teeth from below upwards and rounding-off at the top, but from front to back as well and from the back forwards, from above to below, rounding-off at the bottom. This process will become directly tangible if you picture to yourself that, in association with the tendency to push something spherical forwards, from without inwards, some-thing is formed which is opposed by a process of spherical formation from below upwards (red, in the following illustration).

Figure 2

Between these two processes is that which mediates: processes of secretion and on the other hand, the absorption of what the other has secreted and so on, that which can be called processes of secretion in the widest sense; then in the final analysis absorption is dependent upon a secretion inwards which is in turn re-absorbed. In between lies thus what can be best called secretory processes.

Such a secretory process becomes tangible when you picture to yourself that on the one side lies what continually wants to secrete carbon (orange, in the illustration) and that which takes it up through respiration from the fore in the formation of carbon dioxide (white).

Figure 3

Behind this such a process of secretion is taking place. When you descend further into the metabolic-limb system, you have a proper process of consolidation. However, this process is present in the other direction as well. You will be able to follow it most tangibly by studying the eye, which is built inwards from without, as embryology demonstrates, but is consolidated from within. The formation is internalized. That is the manner in which the eye develops. It is internalized (see the following drawing: orange).

Figure 4

Thus, as we progress to that which is of soul-spiritual nature in man, to the organs of the soul-spiritual, to the sense-organs, we find that the process of consolidation has become spiritualized, truly ensouled and spiritualized in perception; that is, more or less, the descending process which leads to the formation of. the organs (please refer to the first illustration and to the chart which follows).

Thus we find at the lowermost end the process of sensory perception, objective perception. If this development continues, if it goes further in this direction, then the process of perception encounters the consolidating forces; should it become conscious in this encounter, it will become imagination. If imagination develops further and becomes conscious in encountering the process of secretion, it becomes inspiration. And when inspiration develops further in the direction of the formative forces, collides with them consciously and thus sees through these forces, it becomes intuition. Thus Dne can develop this progression in the life of the soul stage by stage from objective sensory perception to imagination, to inspiration and to intuition.

      Formative forces
      Secretory processes

This process which unfolds in the soul is based, however, on the process of coming-into-being. It is in fact, as you can see here, only the inverse of this genesis. One steps out to encounter what has already come into existence, rising into this becoming in the opposite direction. Formation takes place in the descending direction. The human being ascends in the opposite direction; he advances to meet what is coming into being. Thus, what one develops as powers of perception and cognition in imagination, inspiration and intuition always has its counter-activity in the creative powers which express themselves in the formative forces, in the processes of secretion and consolidation.

From all of this you will gather that what is active in the human organism in the opposite direction, in its coming into being, is that into which one ascends when rising in knowledge. You will perceive that in reality what we attain in imagination are the same powers which, without our being conscious of them, reveal themselves in the phenomena of growth, in the plastic phenomena of growth. If we ascend to inspiration, we come upon the forces which inspire man from without inwards in his breathing, which shape him through and through as he breathes, which shape themselves into the plastic forces as they work these forces through, to a degree. And if we ascend to intuition, we rise in reality to the primal mover (“Agens”) who enters into our plastic forms from the world without as substantial being.

You see, in this way we grasp the human being as he takes shape out of the Cosmos. If we now apply the knowledge which we have gained in one way or another through anatomy or physiology and illuminate it with what is given us here, then we begin to understand the organs and their functions. This is an indication of how to understand the organs and their functions. Thus what is always at work plastically in the human being, what permeates and shapes him, lives on the other hand in the movements for the consonants, the unconscious imaginative forces which call forth a permeation of the organism, as I said yesterday. Yesterday's lecture should be of help. Here you can perceive how consonantal eurythmy takes hold of deficient formative powers, deficient plastic forces in the human being and transforms them into something truly sculptural.1Rudolf Steiner uses in every case here the word “plastic”.

Let us assume we have a child before us and we see that he is insufficiently formed, that his growth is rampant. What does it mean, when we say that something of a plastic nature is growing uncontrolledly? It means that the plastic is working centrifugally, thus making the head large, and, in doing so, is no longer permitting the head to be permeated in the proper manner with imaginative forces. These must be supplied. Therefore one will let the child do consonantal eurythmy.

Here we have a question about “a two-year-old boy with a large head, who is nevertheless not hydrocephalic and is otherwise apparently healthy.”

Here you have the effective antidote, in properly applied consonantal eurythmy. Here we have arrived at the point at which a thorough observation of the morphology, of the more profound morphological facts, can provide a direct indication for the eurythmic treatment.

Another: “a twelve and three-quarter-year-old boy whose growth in height is distinctly retarded, with no organic findings other than worms; intelligent but intellectually quickly tired.” A most interesting complex of symptoms, all of which indicate that the imaginative forces are insufficent, that the plastic forces in the organs are running rampant because of a lack of inner fictile forces, of plastic soul forces. These plastic forces of the soul are those which destroy parasites. It is no wonder that when these forces are insufficient the child has worms. Thus one should have him do consonantal eurythmy; therein lies the antidote. These associations will provide you with concrete indications of where you can employ eurythmy. Although the phenomena are somewhat camouflaged here, eurythmy will have an extraordinarily positive effect even in such cases, particularly if one complements it medicinally.

Here I have an interesting question that has been presented to me. Naturally I must answer the questions in principle. If complications of any sort should appear, they can later be taken into special consideration as the case demands. However, although it may be necessary to combine something else along with it, the matter has nevertheless been thoroughly dealt with from the side characterized.

“I have as a patient a five-year-old child who lost a great deal of blood as the result of a bullet wound suffered in the outbreaks of violence; two years ago a deformation of the joints set in. These are things which could lead to anaemia and similar conditions in adults. How could one help this child therapeutically?”

Here you have a deformation of the joints. That is an outwardly-working tendency of plastic forces that are unable to remain within. Thus these forces ray outwards, leaving the human being instead of working within him as they should. They will be reflected in the most effective manner precisely through the practice of consonantal eurythmy. In doing consonantal eurythmy you will call forth the objectively effective imaginations which offset the deformations. As the manner in which the question is placed quite correctly indicates, people in the future will in general tend to deform in the most manifold ways, because they will no longer be able to build up the normalizing human form out of the involuntarily active forces. Man will become free; he will gradually become free even in respect to the building up of his own form. However, he must then be able to do something with this freedom. Ile must go on to engender imaginations which continuously counter the deformation.

Now as to the other; you see that we are here concerned with a dearth of objective imagination. We could have to do with a deficiency of objective inspiration as well, which would express itself in a deformation of the rhythmic system, if I may call it that. In the case of a deformation of the rhythmic system, the objective inspiration which goes inwards does not encounter the circulatory rhythm in the proper manner. One can work towards a normalization of the situation by practising vowels in eurythmy. In eurythmy the vowels affect internal irregularities which are precisely not accompanied by morphological changes, even as consonantal eurythmy affects deformations and the tendency to deformation.

As I said earlier, it may nevertheless be necessary to render aid when something appears in particularly radical form, as in the case of the deformations of the joints that we just discussed. There it would he necessary to come to the assistance of the consonantal eurythmic process therapeutically. This consonantal process works by stimulating through its imagination the inner breathing of the organs orientated from without inwards and lying on the far side, of the intestinal wall: the lungs, the kidneys, the liver, and so on. When a person does consonantal eurythmy, it is a fact that particularly the back of the head, the lungs, the liver and the kidneys begin to sparkle and flash; something is really there that indicates the reaction of the spirit and soul to what is _lone outside in the consonants. Man becomes a shining being in these organs, and the movements that are carried out are in continuous opposition to the luminous movements within. In particular, there appears an entire luminous reproduction of the excretory process of the kidneys, through certain consonantal movements. One has a picture of the excretory process of the kidneys in this luminous process which comes about as the result of consonantal eurythmy. And that works over into the unconscious imagination. The whole process in which this part begins to shine is the same process that I described as being especially under the influence of copper. It is the same process. Here one must draw the attention of the physicians to the fact that there are people with particular forms of illness. These forms of illness were brought to my attention again yesterday when I was shown some painted pictures that were very much admired in some quarters at least, and was asked whether they were particularly occult. In a certain sense, of course, they are occult, but it is extraordinarily difficult to speak to people about these things, for they are an objectively-fixed kidney-efflorescence; they are the objectively-fixed process of the excretion of urine. When in the case of persons predisposed to this illness the process of urinary excretion becomes an abnormal, luminous process, that is, when the process of excretion falters—a purely metabolic illness—the kidneys then begin to shine. When this inwardly directed clairvoyance then sets in, people begin to draw wildly. What they produce will be aesthetic, in an outer formal manner beautiful in every case. The colours applied will be beautiful. But, of course, people are not content when one says to them, “Yes, there you have painted something very beautiful; it is in fact your obstructed excretion of urine.” I can assure you that the obstructed urinary process and suppressed sexual desires—which lead as well in a certain manner to metabolic irregularities—are often presented by people of particularly mystical nature as mystically profound drawings and paintings. In much of what makes its appearance in the world in this manner one should recognize the symptoms of pathological abnormalities in the human being that are just bearable still.

As you see, anthroposophically oriented spiritual science is not mysticism as mysticism is commonly understood, since it fosters no illusions about matters such as we have just characterized. Quite the contrary: it investigates just such matters. People take exception to one for doing so, however. They resent my having gone so far in a public lecture as to indicate that the lovely poetry of Mechthild von Magdeburg, for example, or of Saint Theresa, are the inspirational reflexes of processes arising from repressed sexuality. Here, of course, the things are not drawn or painted, but poetically expressed. Naturally it is not pleasant for people to hear Mechthild von Magdeburg or Saint Theresa described as personalities with a strong sexuality which they restrained precisely because it was too strong for them, that certain metabolic-circulatory processes resulted from this retension, and that the reactions to this in turn appeared in such a form that they were fixed in very beautiful poetry. Indeed, this phenomenon leads extraordinarily deep into the mysteries of existence, when considered in a higher light. However, one must be able to rise to such an interpretation. And, therefore, one must have at least a notion of these peculiar processes which light up as inward processes when eurythmy is done outwardly. And in the moment when what is concealed within the poetry becomes eurythmy, as I showed you yesterday—when a beautiful poem is read and the eurythmy corresponding to it is done as we saw yesterday in vowels or consonants—then the one thing crosses the other; then an inward silent speaking joins what is carried out outwardly in movements in the person doing eurythmy as well. And when this process does not exude in sultry poetry but takes instead the course of accompanying beautiful poetry as eurythmy, then that which takes place in the human being does not become a recording of mysticism, but a definite process of healing for the human being. Thus one can say that when one lets the patients do eurythmy in such a manner that one continually brings to his attention: listen carefully, bring intensely into consciousness the sound that you hear, the relationships of the sentence you hear, to which you are doing eurythmy; then one will initiate his ascent to the outward formative forces, to the objectively intuiting powers. When one wants to affect all that has remained in the human being from what no longer took place between birth and death, but what materialism calls inheritance—the greater part of which, however, is carried over from the pre-existent spiritual soul-life—if one wants to affect what can be called congenital defects and so on, then one will do well to work—particularly during the course of youth—again and again through eurythmy by challenging the person doing it: make very clear to yourself what you hear outwardly! By this method one can drive out all the tendencies to fix inwardly what would like to arise and take form in something like mystical poetry or mystical drawing. Precisely that will be connected to the beautiful outer poem. It is the reverse process. A true mystic knows that that of an abnormal nature which is reflected by the human being as beauty always has a questionable side. By contrast, one cannot claim that, when what is beautiful in the outer world is experienced inwardly, it appears as a particularly magnificent and beautiful picture: on the contrary, it becomes schematic and thereby abstract; abstract as if it were sketched; abstract, as a drawing is abstract. That is precisely what is healthy, however, and what is desired. The beautiful historic process would not have taken place, but if for example Mechthild von Magdeburg had been instigated to do eurythmy to good poetry, her entire mystic fate would have been spared her. Naturally one can say here that a point has been reached where in a certain sense good and evil cease to exist; one enters into the amoral sphere of Nietzche, beyond good and evil. Of course, one cannot be so philistine as to claim that all the Mechthilds von Magdeburg should be eradicated. On the other hand you may be certain that from the super-sensible worlds care will be taken that the corresponding connections with these super-sensible worlds nevertheless remain, when man attempts to prevent this tendency from undue proliferation.

Although it is quite late, I would still like to go into a few matters in order to perhaps bring some clarification. I would like to start with the following question:

“Couldn't the therapeutic eurythmy exercises be reinforced by rational breathing exercises? It needn't necessarily be Hatha-Yoga.”

To this I would like to make the following remark. In our times, and within the direction that the continually progressing human nature has taken, rational breathing exercises, as a reinforcement of the eurythmic exercises, can in fact only be treated in the following manner. It will be observed that a tendency towards a modification in the rhythm of respiration arises of its own accord under the influence of the vowels in eurythmy. One will notice this quite clearly. Here one finds oneself in the uncomfortable situation that one should avoid stereotyping, avoid saying the one thing or another in general, but should first observe what is to be done. One should concern oneself in each individual case with the breathing of the person in whose healing one is attempting to be of assistance by means of eurythmic vowel exercises (in accordance with the diagnosis given, whatever it may be); one should observe the modification of the breathing and subsequently make the patient aware that he can consciously pursue this tendency himself. We are no longer human beings like the ancient orientals, who would go the reverse route and influence the entire human being by way of a prescribed method of breathing. This is something which today leads of necessity, in every case, to inner shocks, no matter how it is prescribed; it should really be avoided. We just have to learn to notice what kind of effect eurythmy itself, especially vocalic eurythmy, has on the breathing process. And then we can consciously continue the tendency which arises eurythmically, in the individual case. You will certainly observe that this respiratory process will be carried on individually, continued in varying manners in different people.

My esteemed friends, those are more or less the things that it is possible to answer at the moment. We have no real possibility of dealing with a number of matters that have got bogged down due to the shortness of time. In closing, my dear friends. I want to warn you that you must be prepared that your medical colleagues in the world will wage their wars no less intensely when they become aware of your bringing something of our sort to bear, and that you will have need of the penetrating power of conviction to weaken what will confront you. In no case, of course, may what you are confronted with lead you to neglect these matters; we may permit ourselves no illusions about those antagonistic forces we arouse.

At the end of this course I would as well like to state that, in order to make the movement possible, as it should now be inaugurated in the medical field, I will adhere everywhere to the policy of not involving myself directly with the patients in the therapeutic process, but will discuss and consult only with the physicians themselves. Thus you will always be in the position to refute any allegations that I myself interfere in any way in an unjustified manner in the therapy. I have already mentioned this at the end of the last course. This has been made extraordinarily difficult for me even from the anthroposophical side—this cannot he passed over in silence—as people naturally make all possible demands in this direction. It is also definitely the case that among anthroposophists the tendency exists, not only not to rise above egoism, but sometimes to become even more egoistic than normal people are. Then, when the occasion arises it is often a matter of complete indifference to the person, what the welfare of the movement may entail; that the welfare of the movement is dependent in each individual instance upon a rejection of the practice of what the world outside terms quackery; that a healing process should take place in the whole of medicine and should not be disturbed by the demands arising from an individual's personal aspirations. People will make it difficult, but it must be carried through in this direction, since we will only be able to succeed in this area when we can stand up to the outer world—as we are otherwise able to, in the anthroposophical movement, insofar as matters are conducted with understanding and not bowdlerized by people without understanding. Simply by virtue of knowing what is going on in the anthroposophical movement we must be in the position to say: what is being said there is certainly a lie, it is beyond doubt an invention. We must simply always be in the position to say that, in certain cases. And we come to be able to say that, when we are all inwardly initiated in the contents of matters such as those to which I have drawn attention here: that I myself do not intervene in the therapeutic process, but that within the anthroposophical movement the doctors are responsible for the therapy of the patients.

Having said what was necessary, I want to add nothing more than the wish that the stimuli—which, in this course in particular, have often remained mere indications—may work on in you and become active in the appropriate manner for the welfare of humanity. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to carry on in some manner what we have already twice begun; in any case we will make an effort to carry on with it. With this wish, my dear friends, I will close these contemplations, in the hope that our deeds in these directions may be in accord with our wishes. It was very satisfying to see you here. It will be a satisfying feeling to think back on these days here, which it was your desire to spend together towards the enrichment of medical science. The thoughts that hold us together will accompany you, my dear friends, on the paths that you will wander, to transform into deeds what we attempted to activate, to begin with here, as thoughts.