The Christmas Conference
Events which occur in human history are always marked by their own peculiar destiny. Some acquire instantaneous recognition, others remain unnoticed for decades, for centuries and sometimes forever. They are all inscribed, however, in the super-sensible sphere in a form often designated as the Akasha Chronicle.
The record of the event of the Christmas Conference for the Foundation of the General Anthroposophical Society which is contained in this publication became accessible in printed form in the original German version prepared by Marie Steiner in 1944, some twenty years after Christmas 1923. The Foundation Stone verse, however, which resounded each day during this Christmas Conference was printed by Rudolf Steiner almost immediately. In the many lectures, letters to the members, and articles which occupied Rudolf Steiner in the months after January 1, 1924 until his death on March 30, 1925, he also made frequent and penetrating reference to the event of the Christmas Conference and the Laying of the Foundation Stone.
The effect of this twenty year span of time between the Christmas Conference itself and the printed proceedings was that those eight-hundred people from many different countries who attended the Conference shared their impressions, memories, inspirations and resolutions with the members at home. Thus an oral tradition arose around the event itself, whereas the Foundation Stone verse, which was immediately accessible, became an inner meditative reality for countless people and was soon translated into various languages, including English. Over the decades which followed, numerous translations of this verse arose out of the anthroposophical work in various English-speaking countries. Besides the translation used in the following text, three other translations have been included at the end.
During the more than forty years between the original publication in German and this first publication in English two basic translations in typescript form served as a working basis for the people to whom they were accessible. Frances Dawson of California made a translation which served some members' groups of the Anthroposophical Society. John Jeffree of England translated the German version soon after it appeared for the English Section meetings led by Harry Collison. Harry Collison was the representative from England at the Christmas Conference.
Perhaps it is just this unavailability of the printed text for so many years which is the greatest indication that the Christmas Conference for the Foundation of the General Anthroposophical Society and the Laying of the Foundation Stone can never be restricted merely to a printed document; rather here is a living testimony to a spiritual reality. This spiritual reality comes towards us from the future as it continues to work on in humanity's life on earth. This event was actually inaugurated rather than concluded on January 1, 1924. It is therefore vitally important that these proceedings are now available for the English-speaking world through a translation which captures in an accurate and a sensitive manner the directness, the depth and the subtleties of this most significant event.