Written by Helen Katsikas
In its deepest foundations, this is a festival that points towards the future evolution of humanity.
Rudolf Steiner tells us that human beings will be able to celebrate this festival in a full and conscious way only in the distant future. St. John’s Day corresponds to the point in the life-cycle of the Earth when it is most fully breathing out. At this time, the inner being of the Earth is immersed in a deep sleep – the outward expression of which is all the beauty of its plant life. The Earth’s soul lives fully outside its physical planetary body. It ascends to the sphere of the fixed stars and abides there in the circle of the higher Hierarchies immersed in “blissful dreams” – dreams which it will then recall throughout the winter – especially during the thirteen Holy Nights.
The soul of the Earth experiences the deepest secrets of existence in the far reaches of the cosmos – but like a dream – it cannot awaken to a conscious experience of that “divine-bliss.” Man also cannot follow the soul of the Earth – he can only unite with it unconsciously during sleep. Rudolf Steiner tells us that the human soul endeavours to follow the out breathing of the Earth’s soul but owing to the influence of the power of freedom and ego-consciousness, it has become powerless with regard to the heavenly heights. (GA 226 21/5/1923). In ancient times such an ascent was still possible for initiates.
In our time, however, there does exist a path that can enable modern man to follow the soul of the Earth into the cosmos, while fully preserving one’s waking ego-consciousness. It’s foundations have been laid through the Mystery of Golgotha, when the Christ Being became the new Spirit of the Earth. It is for this reason that when the Earth breathes out, not only the soul, but also the Spirit of the earth, takes leave of its physical body and unites with the world of the sun and the stars. The soul of the earth together with the new Spirit of the earth, Christ, takes leave of the planetary body, uniting there with His eternal Kingdom in the spheres of the sun and stars.
Rudolf Steiner speaks of this:
“The entire soul-nature of the earth has been poured forth into cosmic space – it has given itself up to the cosmic space. The soul nature of the earth has been permeated by the power of the sun, by the power of the stars. Christ who is deeply associated with the soul-nature of the earth, also unites His strength with the power of the sun and stars which surge through the earth’s soul-nature thus surrendered to the Cosmic All. This is the season of St. John’s Day. The earth has fully breathed out. In its outward aspect, with which it be holds the universe, the earth manifests not its own forces, as at the time of the winter solstice but reveals rather, on its surface, the reflected forces of the stars and sun and all that lies outside it in the cosmos.”
If an individual has entered upon the modern path of Christian-Rosicrucian initiation, which leads him/her to a conscious union with the Christ Being, such a union can enable him, at St. John’s Tide, to rise with the soul of the earth into the macrocosm and there behold with its eyes, the divine Mysteries – feeling himself to be at the very heart of the divine-spiritual world and experiencing all this in full possession of his waking ego-consciousness. For, as Rudolf Steiner says – “man does not accomplish this ascent on his own but with the Christ Being, who alone of all the divine beings of the cosmos, is able to uplift and sustain man’s individual ego-consciousness at all levels of world-existence”. This deepest mystery of the Christ as the Spirit and guiding star if the whole Earth is revealed to the initiate.
This experience of the macrocosm – the planets, sun, and the fixed stars in union with the forces of the earth soul is far greater than the 6th Stage of Christian-Rosicrucian initiation – “Becoming one with the macrocosm” – Whitsun, which merely issues from man’s individual forces. The highest stage of Christian Rosicrucian initiation is “Divine Bliss”. Rudolf Steiner explains: ” After the 6th stage, something arises which, in spiritual-scientific terms is called ” divine-bliss”. There are no human words which have the power to describe what a man learns through this experience. It requires a thinking which no longer requires the instrument of the human brain. The summer festival of St. John is, esoterically speaking, an indication of the most distant future in the evolution of mankind, that future which in our time, a person can make an inner reality only once he has reached the 7th and final stage of the modern Christian-Rosicrucian path”.
It is a festival which anticipates that condition of the Earth when it will again be united with the Sun and through it, with the whole of the starry world.
A future true Earth-Sun festival.