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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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The Christmas Conference
GA 260

This anthroposophical movement is not an earthly service, this anthroposophical movement in its entirety, in all its details, is a service of the gods, a divine service.

In 1923, at Christmas, one year after the burning of the first Goetheanum, in the wooden carpentry shop overlooking its charred ruins, Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) founded the General Anthroposophical Society and joined his destiny to it. This remarkable volume documents that occasion.

In it, for the first time, English readers will find the complete proceedings of the Founding Meeting, as well as Rudolf Steiner's in-depth description of the structure and organization of the new Society. The discussions concerning the statutes are recorded in detail.

The Laying of the Foundation Stone in the hearts of the members forms the center of the book. The Foundation Stone Verse (Mantra) is reproduced in the different forms in which Steiner gave it on each day of the Conference, together with his comments on its various rhythms.

Also included are Steiner's lecture on the plans for the second Goetheanum, illuminating the spiritual significance of its architecture, and a talk on the burning of the Temple at Ephesus.

The text is complemented by a list of members mentioned, with biographical data, as well as by facsimile reproductions of Steiner’s handwritten notes and blackboard sketches.

Here, as Henry Barnes wrote, “we have the ‘footprints’ of the process by means of which a spiritual archetype enters as a living reality into the human, social sphere, remaining true to its origins in the super-sensible realm, yet leaving each human individual free to unite him- or herself out of insight with the spiritual reality.”

Introduction by Virginia Sease
Preface to the 1985 German Edition
Part I: Introductory
Foreword: The Close of the Year and the Turn of the Year 1923/24
The year 1922: The culmination of Rudolf Steiner's work in public and the commencement of acts of sabotage. The burning of the Goetheanum. Dr. Steiner forcefully stresses the tasks of the Anthroposophical Society. The establishment of the General Anthroposophical Society. The Christmas Foundation Conference bound up with infinite tragedy. What it meant fot Rudolf Steiner to take karma upon himself. The grave illness of Rudolf Steiner at the beginning of 1924 and his lectures until 28 September 1924.
I. Introduction to the Eurythmy Performance 23 December 1923
Eurythmy as an original art stemming from Anthroposophy. Art only flows into human evolution when it can make use of super-sensible forces; it cannot flourish on a basis of materialistic thinking. The relationship of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition to eurythmy and to recitation and declamation.
II. The Proceedings of the Conference
II. The Opening of the Christmas Foundation Conference 24 December 10 a.m.
The significance of the fact that the Goetheanum and the Anthroposophical Society have their centre on Swiss soil. Thanks to Albert Steffen for his lecture.
III. Rudolf Steiner's Opening Lecture and Reading of the Statutes 24 December 11:15 a.m.
The ruins of the Goetheanum are a symptom of conditions in the world. The Anthroposophical Movement as a link with the primeval sources of human evolution in the spiritual world, and the Anthroposophical Society as a dwelling for the Anthroposophical Movement. Lessons learnt from experience over ten years. Reasons for the decision to take on the Presidency. The General Anthroposophical Society; its Statutes; complete openness to the public; release of the manuscripts for publication and their protection by moral means. Undisguised public work on behalf of the Anthroposophical Movement using the examples of eurythmy, recitation and declamation, and medical therapy. Reading of the Statutes with explanations. Rudolf Steiner suggests the members of the Vorstand.
IV. The Laying of the Foundation Stone of the General Anthroposophical Society through Rudolf Steiner 25 December 10 a.m.
The spiritual laying of the Foundation Stone with verses that sum up the essence of the most important spiritual findings of recent years and renew the ancient word of the Mysteries: ‘Know thyself’. The Christmas Verse and its harmonizing knowledge of man. Call to found a true community of human beings for Anthroposophia for the progress of the world.
V. The Foundation Meeting of the General Anthroposophical Society 25 December 11:15 a.m.
Reports from representatives of the national Societies.
VI. Meeting of the Vorstand and the General Secretaries of the National Societies and their Secretaries 25 December 2:30 p.m.
Answers to questions concerning the admission of members, the Classes, election of General Secretaries, dissemination of anthroposophical knowledge amongst the general public.
VII. Continuation of the Foundation Meeting 26 December 10 a.m.
The Anthroposophical Society, fully open and yet deeply esoteric. The Foundation Stone Verses with explanations by Rudolf Steiner. Reports of the General Secretaries. Reading of the Statutes. Practical arrangements.
VIII. Continuation of the Foundation Meeting 27 December 10 a.m.
The Foundation Stone Verses with explanations by Rudolf Steiner. General debate: Contributions on the journal Das Goetheanum. Tasks of the central Vorstand. The relationship of the Anthroposophical Society in Switzerland to the branch at the Goetheanum. The Classes and the Sections. Detailed debate on Paragraphs 1 to 3.
IX. Continuation of the Foundation Meeting 28 December 10 a.m.
The Foundation Stone Verses with explanations by Rudolf Steiner. Detailed debate on Paragraphs 4 and 5 (Rudolf Steiner's suggestions as to the leaders of the Sections), and Paragraphs 6 to 14. Addition of Paragraph 15 naming the founding Vorstand. Answers to questions. Note to Paragraph 2. Adoption of the Statutes at the third reading.
X. Rudolf Steiner's Contribution during the Meeting of the Swiss School Association 28 December p.m.
Present social circumstances make it impossible to finance a large number of Waldorf Schools. The importance, particularly in Switzerland, of founding a truly independent school as a model. The financial basis for an independent school in Switzerland.
XI. Meeting of the Vorstand of the General Anthroposophical Society and of the General Secretaries of the National Societies together with their Secretaries and the Swiss Branches 29 December 8:30 a.m.
The Swiss Anthroposophical Society and its relationship to the branch at the Goetheanum and to the General Anthroposophical Society. The standard amount per member to be paid to the General Anthroposophical Society. Contributions by General Secretaries regarding the membership fee. Rudolf Steiner and Marie Steiner reflect on their work in Berlin.
XII. Lecture XII. Continuation of the Foundation Meeting 29 December 10 a.m.
Foundation Stone Verses with explanations by Rudolf Steiner. Contributions from delegates on the subjects of the opposition to Anthroposophy and of the Free Anthroposophical Society.
XIII. Continuation of the Foundation Meeting 30 December 10 a.m.
Foundation Stone Verses and Christmas Verse. Contributions of delegates on the subjects of the youth movement, the work in England, the independent school in The Hague. Problems of the Society as regards continuity and work in public. On the content of the reports for the supplement to Das Goetheanum. The opposition in Holland. The financial situation of the Waldorf schools. Eurythmy in North America.
XIV. Lecture XIV. Continuation of the Foundation Meeting 31 December 10 a.m.
Foundation Stone Verses and Christmas Verse. The resistance of some sciences to the views of spiritual science. The need to unite all the sciences in an overall view of the world. The Anthroposophical Society must give the impulse for bridging the abyss between art and science. The successes of anthroposophical research. It is urgent for anthroposophical research to link up with present-day civilization.
XV. The Idea of the Future Building in Dornach
The rebuilding of the Goetheanum: financial considerations; the form it will take. Concrete as a new building material. The difficulty of achieving an artistic style in concrete. The ground plan to combine round and rectangular shapes. Arrangement of rooms and halls in the new building. Roof constructed of flat surfaces. Changes in the Anthroposophical Movement since the building of the first Goetheanum mean new demands will be made on the new Goetheanum. On Paragraphs 5 and 7 of the Statutes.
XVI. Open Discussion of Swiss Delegates under the Chairmanship of Rudolf Steiner 31 December 2:30 p.m.
Presidency and administration of the Swiss national Society. The representatives of its branches at delegates meetings. Explanations of the Christmas Foundation Conference in public and within the Society. Courtesy as an unwritten paragraph of the Statutes.
XVII. The Envy of the Gods — the Envy of Human Beings 31 December 8:30 p.m.
The burning of the temple at Ephesus and the saying from Antiquity about the envy of the gods. The Mysteries as places where human beings and the ‘good gods’ encounter and understand one another. The envy of luciferic and ahrimanic gods. The deed of Golgotha by the God capable of supreme love. What was once the affair of gods and human beings becomes in the age of freedom the affair of human beings in physical life. The modesty with which divine wisdom presents itself on the earthly plane in the Middle Ages. Instruction of a Rosicrucian master to his pupil: the relationship of physical, etheric and astral bodies to the earth; their membership of the hierarchies; the special relationship of the human being to warmth. The ‘language’ of new spiritual revelation in the forms and picture content of the Goetheanum. The statue of the goddess at Ephesus ? the statue of the representative of mankind in the Goetheanum. The burning of the Goetheanum and the envy of human beings. The transformation of pain into faithfulness and activity with regard to the spiritual impulse of the Goetheanum.
XVIII. Continuation of the Foundation Meeting 1 January 10 a.m.
Foundation Stone Verses. Contributions of delegates on the subjects of the opposition and of books.
XIX. Lecture XIX. The Rebuilding of the Goetheanum 1 January a.m.
On the shaping of the doorways, windows, pillars, columns and the roof in the new Goetheanum. Internal and external forms making up an organic building. Contributions of delegates on the financing of the new building. Answers to questions on the membership contribution.
XX. Chapter XX. On the Right Entry into the Spiritual World. The Responsibility Incumbent on Us 1 January a.m.
The future goal of anthroposophical endeavour: to prevent mankind from failing to make the historically imposed step over the threshold through misuse of the capacity to form ideas by applying this capacity exclusively to the material world. The task of Dornach as the place where spiritual realities must be openly spoken about. The need to be uncompromising and truthful with regard to the impulse of Anthroposophy in the various branches of practical life. The hope which is united with the Christmas Foundation Conference. The Foundation Stone Verses.
On Behalf of the Members
III. Conclusion and Appendices
Rudolf Steiner's work following the Conference. His lectures, books and essays in continuation of what had been inaugurated by the Christmas Foundation Conference.
Rudolf Steiner's Words of Welcome at the Social Gathering
Notes on the Verses
Note on Elemental and Elementary Beings
The Printed Version of the Verses in German
Three English Versions of the Verses
List of Names