Once more using Social Therapy and Therapuetic Education as a lens for making these global themes visable, we will share experiences, search for practical solutions and look for inspiration that makes the work worthwhile and meaningful, despite the hindrances, our time and we ourselves are placing there for our own growing: coming to the unavoidable recognition of the urgent safeguarding of the earth and the pain and vulnerability that lead us to our calling to the stars.


What this means for Special Needs provision is a clear example of everything that pertains to the modern need for transparency and clarity on the one hand and the narrowing of the cultural and spiritual life due to insurance-based attitudes and perspective law on the other. (Working with Fear).


The question of Succession is currently experienced by most of us in our various places and fields of work, but is likewise globally tangible as an area of urgent research and concern. We are only too aware of the demise of training and education that prepare young people for succession in the Anthroposophical disciplines. We have moved from a time where the elders and their wisdom gained from experience were revered and form a "given", to a time where the elderly are deemed expensive, obsolete, game for violent robbery or simply ignored. History is not considered worthy of study and existing forms overthrown. A considerable majority of people alive now and in the near future are or will be elderly. How do we contribute to a change of the present paradigm? How can we be open to the future without either holding on or trampling on the past and bypassing the present. How can we find new ways of supporting and enabling the younger generation? These are social questions for us and for beyond our movement. (Working with Hatred).


The question of leadership and individual responsibility is a current topic for us and for the whole of civilisation. We are faced with this on an ongoing daily basis. What are the qualities needed? What forms are right for now? No one form fits all. Charity-law: uses and misuses. (Working with Doubt).


Notes for the introduction to the 2019 Acesta Conference at Emerson College by Paulamaria Blaxland -de Lange

Safeguarding, Succession and Governance in the 21st Century, Michael and Ahriman

A warm welcome to Joan Sleigh, Bart van Mechelen, Richard Steel, Inessa Burdich, Constantin Court, Ricardo Pereira, Simon Blaxland-de Lange and to Andrea de la Cruz, Ianthe Lauwaert and Melody Brink of the Youth Section.

Before we start going into the depth of the themes of our conference, I would like to start by speaking about ACESTA: our Anthroposophical Care, Education and Social Therapy Association. How can ACESTA serve the needs of our time, how can we serve Michael and then look at what the shadows are, what stops me, what happens if I do the opposite?

And first of all I would like to go into the question as to why we say that we use our work as the lens for understanding our present time.

When we become drawn to our work we may well begin through feeling pity, to this belongs the sense that I know what the other is and needs and I wish to do things for …

But after a while we move on, we realise that feeling pity does not help or heal and we begin to move towards empathy and with this begins the wish to understand and to things with…

When we have then been in our work for some time, this metamorphoses into a real feeling of reverence of the other as an evolving being and insight through experience comes our way and I feel engaged, I may become my brother’s keeper in the first true sense of this.

And when we have worked with this sense of responsibility for a long time we again move towards a new sense: a love for the goal and I begin to develop conceptual intuition and practical Reason.

If I could show this in visual form, we would see that we have worked towards the development of our Thinking, Feeling and Will and that this can serve us well as a tool for the understanding of what was and is, and what comes to meet us in the world.

I would now like to take up the thread of the last ACESTA conference in the light of the urgent needs of the Now and suggest that we need to collaborate, to associate and to co-operate.


What is collaboration? Well, the word means with (co) work (labor): working together.

If I want to work with you, what do I need to do? 

1)     First of all, I need to move beyond myself, beyond my own situation or organisation, to loosen my boundaries. To be willing to be a part of a larger whole.

If we cannot do so, or are forced to do so, what do we get? We get fragmentation, we build walls; we become strangers. We become competitors, subscribing to the survival of the fittest.

2)     And then what do I need? Yes, I need to trust.

The opposite of trust is distrust. What happens when we distrust, when we are distrusted? We begin to exaggerate. We hide behind fixed ideas, behind dogma; behind “knowing better”: “that is what we do” or “Herr Doktor hat gesagt” , or “ if you don’t do it this way, you have missed the boat”, and we blacken or underestimate the other’s motivation, achievement or work. Like in politics, you make the other look bad or stupid so that by definition you must be better, not because you really are better.

3)     And what else do I need to do to collaborate?  Yes, I need to become more selfless, to overcome prejudice, to share resources.

What happens if as individuals or as humanity, we cannot manage this and are bent on selfish motivation?  Then we contribute to “the other” becoming simply a tool for use; we become part of the uncontrolled drive towards ownership of assets, privatisation, efficiency and market forces. And the results we know: automation: seeing man as a cog in a machine and ultimately as a machine himself. Human worth is diminished, and we see the resulting poverty, homelessness, and finally genocide through selection by race, class, wealth, nation or blood. 

If I can face and work with these challenges that stop me collaborating, and to overcome my fear, I can begin to transcend my separate self and can begin to ask the question: How do I stand in the world, how do you stand? And I can come to the realisation that in all we do, we are interdependent and that together we create a common Place and environment. I overcome exclusive consumerism and become my brother’s keeper.

Now we move to association; what is association: the word has social within it. How do we live and communicate together?

1)     Well, if I want to meet you or communicate with you, to associate with you, I need to be willing to listen, to share ideas and stories or myths.

The opposite is that I think I “own” the truth, the time or moment, the land, the nation, the house; and I practice “othering”. ( A new phrase in the Social Sciences)

2)     What else do I need to do to associate? Yes, as you say, I need to have a warm interest in you, and come to see that we are equal in our humanity.

How can we express the shadow of this?  I think we could express it as emptiness - like Henry Moore’s sculpture of modern man with a big hole where his heart should be - and how do I behave? With a dogmatic short-sightedness; regarding only my own situation as relevant or justified.

3)     Thirdly I think that we need to grow our commitment to Spiritual Ideals and to a true Image of the Human Being.

And the alternative?  Well, I think what we do is to subscribe to political correctness, party politics, fanaticism and bubble-fed wishful thinking, like the people in the street who were asked how many immigrants had come into the country and would not accept that they got the numbers vastly wrong.  So: making a mockery of the truth. Communication becomes mechanical and manipulative, wisdom is replaced by information technology.

How can I overcome this mockery? By truly asking the question to the other: Who are you? And for humanity to find the way towards ethical individualism.

Rudolf Steiner gave a verse I found helpful for this:

The healthy social life is found

When in the mirror of the human soul

The whole community finds its reflection

And when in the community

The virtue of each one is living.


Finally, I think we need to Co-operate.  What do we do when we co-operate? The dictionary suggests: team work, mutual support, synergy.

In Collaborating we looked at working together, in Associating we concentrated on meeting and communicating together.  So now I tried to look in what way in Acesta we could team up, could give mutual support and create synergy.  And I think we need to try to find ways to learn together, to support each other and share the search for an understanding of the meaning of Life on the Earth and our relationship to the divine.

1)     So if we want to understand, we need to search for all possible ways to create platforms of learning and research and to freely share ideas and results together.

What happens when we do not actively continue our learning and development?  We become lazy and irrelevant. What happens if we do not share our results? We become like dragons on our hoards and become isolated.

2)     Our time demands that we re-find, re-cognize our place in and our relationship with nature, to bring together again outer and inner, percept and concept, but now out of our free spiritual activity.

What happens if we don’t? Well I think that we become so blinkered and brittle that we will increasingly lose the basis and meaning of our lives and our individuality and the possibility of gaining freedom. Do we take responsibility for what we know? For what we experience?

If we don’t, we will be open to manipulation and populism, and the resulting death of culture in our places, in our homes, in our selves.  If we can accept this glove thrown down and accept that it fits our hand, and join the battle for knowledge, for our further development and existence, then we can no longer hide behind doubt, but harness it and ask ourselves the question: How do I know?

As Earth inhabitants, we have the potential tools of a shared World Economy, human Equality and global Freedom in cultural expression. It seems to me that we need to overcome the claiming of sole ownership of ideas, of the other, of the Earth’s resources and even of the Cosmos.    

As individual I face my own greed, emptiness of soul and death of culture.                                               

As civilization we are facing the very real dangers of automation, mechanization and artificial super intelligence. Ahriman and Lucifer, but especially Ahriman is busy, but so must we be. No God will overcome my greed, my emptiness or my materialistic thinking for me, I need to do that. If we do not take up this challenge, will our individuality not stand in danger of being replaced by an artificially super intelligent mask, forsaking our possibility of gaining freedom and ultimately replacing incarnation by artificial immortality and eternal death.

But human- and earth- needs are my teachers; they can help me overcome my doubt, my cynicism, and my laziness.

Maybe this could be the learning of the language I need to speak to the Stars, a language that they can understand.

Maybe this is what Michael awaits with active listening ears. 

The stars once spoke to Man

It is world destiny that they are silent now

To be aware of the silence

can become pain for earthly man.

But out of the silence there ripens

What man speaks to the stars

To become aware of the speaking

Can become strength for spirit man. (Rudolf Steiner)


Could I but kindle every man

with the Spirit of the Cosmos,

That he might be a flame

and unfold his being’s essence like a flame.

Others would take water from the Cosmos

and make all being watery and dull within.

O Joy, to see man as a flame, burning brightly

Oh bitterness, to see man as a thing, bound.

Lecture 1

Safeguarding, Succession

and Governance

in the 21st Century

Michael and Ahriman

Emerson College 30th May – 2nd June 2019


Lecture I given by Joan Sleigh: Safeguarding: trusting anxiety

Safeguarding for disabled children are essentially the same as for non-disabled children. Particular attention should be paid to promoting high standards of practice and a high level of awareness of the risks of harm and strengthening the capacity of children and families to help themselves.”[1]

This includes highlighting the necessity to support the implementation of disaster risk reduction, the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities in the design, implementation and monitoring   of all measures of safeguarding and risk protection, as well as the promotion of universally accessible response, recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. [2] 

Particular areas to pay attention to are those of physical, emotional, social or communicational needs.

1.     Physical safeguarding includes healthy nutrition, bodily hygiene, prevention of and care in times of disease and illness, and protection against neglect and sexual abuse. This requires the surrounding spaces and physical environment to provide the best conditions to support and nurture healthy development on all levels.

Some schools have developed a “safe touch policy”.

2.     Emotional vulnerability can be alleviated by a positive promotion of consultation and dialogue with special needs individuals as well as their care-givers, to gain insight into their needs and experiences. This includes developing the capacities of active listening and honest articulation within gentle, sensitive conversations.

3.     Safeguarding within the social interactions in the community and society depend on developing and nurturing best possible practice in communication skills. This includes building levels of trust, patience, sensitive ability to listen into what is trying to be expressed (listening to different methods of expression), finding the right tone of voice and speed of speech, etc. Here a direct, active yet highly sensitive approach of engagement can open a caring space of encounter which can benefit the development of the practitioner as well as those with special needs.


Anxiety and fear – on the way to courage

Where safeguarding is essential for the protection, care and well-being of all who are vulnerable, highly sensitive and in need of special care, it is equally essential to determine the motivation upon which the regulations and practices of safeguarding are founded. I think we ae all aware, within our own soul experiences, but also in all those around, that an underlying sensation of anxiety accompanies everything we do.  Karl König says:” Anxiety is a kind of extended mood which overcomes us; it grows slowly but steadily upon us and can remain for days and weeks. Fear is more sudden and usually more intense and is therefore, much more dramatic. Fear is a drama, anxiety an elegy.”[3] We tend to experience anxiety as a mood, a sensation, an undefinable tension over the whole body, a dark cloud which obscures rational judgement and self-confidence.  It can grow, swell and overwhelm, finally building to an uncontrolled decision or reaction. It can also freeze us to immobility and inner and outer paralysis. “Behind anxiety stands the abyss of the unknown.”[4] Heidegger suggests: “Anxiety reveals the nothingness, the realization that we have no ground under our feet, no reference to give context to the demands of our lives, our actions and decisions. We meet fear and anxiety in the face of the unexpected and unknown, of what is new and unpredictable, of the impact and influence of others, of responsibility, ultimately of death.  Anxiety can be experienced as disconnection to oneself, to others and to the physical and social surroundings.

Fear and anxiety apparently appear and increase within society proportional to the process of individuation and self-awareness. As the sense of individuality emerges, with it come loneliness and isolation. Therefore, we can agree with Heidegger that anxiety reveals the emptiness of nothingness within the own being. Fear and anxiety can be described as instincts of escape, of withdrawal, of retreating into a known or habitual space. They freeze and harden the life of feeling, escalating into paranoia and paralysis. Can we recognize a hidden element of fear and anxiety as the motive underlying the ever more stringent and rigid regulations of safeguarding in order to protect from the danger of the unpredictable and unknown? How can we develop a courageous, confident and competent approach to problem-solving and meeting the demands of the moment without trying to control every outer and inner situation?

However, there is also the possibility that just in and through this very discomfort, suffering and isolation, the insight that every individual decision and action is of global consequence, could awaken.  A silent realization that every thought and feeling creates as real an impact as outer actions. This requires facing and gradually overcoming the fear of inner weakness and outer unknowns by stepping courageously and confidently into the unknown and unpredictable.

Facing, overcoming, and growing are activities conceived at the boundary brought about through disconnect, suffering and doubt. Boundaries which are relentless until they can be transformed through own transcendence. Rudolf Steiner describes how: “Consciousness only arises when there is a conflict between the external elements and the inner life-forces, causing a breaking down of tissue. Consciousness can only arise from the inner destruction of life. Unless a partial death takes place in the living being, the process that gives rise to consciousness cannot be initiated.”


Rudolf Steiner describes a path of inner development in which each individual can awaken in the face of real and existential challenges to its potential or source, thereby becoming a conscious, ethical contributor to the world and to society. Is this not safer and far more human than trying to control the unpredictable, or regulate what is alive and ever-changing, or programme invisible potential?

The following is a suggested programme of seven conditions which could be put into practice with the view of developing a safe cultural foundation for an intentional community:

The 7 Condition of a Community Culture

Based on the seven conditions of spiritual development[5]

I. The Cultivation of structural and spiritual health within the organization:

Attention to the outer structures and architecture of work spaces, buildings, layout of grounds and recreational areas. Equal awareness of working conditions, times for initiative and action, as well as for reflection, processing and preparation. Soul hygiene and interpersonal recognition and support.

•        How do we create spaces which enhance the learning processes?

•        How can the play and recreational areas be conducive to healthy social interactions?

•        How can staff rooms, offices and meeting spaces encourage upliftment and breathing?

•        Are we aware of our own limitations and stress levels? And of those of our colleagues?

•        Can we incorporate moments of real encounter and sensitive conversation within the demands of our meeting? 

Aim: to develop a culture of caring

II. Perceiving the organization as a part of the world and humanity at large:

The cultural task of the organization for the broader surroundings and for the world and humanity at large. The influence and impact of a positive, intentional ethos and practice on colleagues and the surroundings.

•        How do we best meet the cultural diversity in our school community and in the current situation in Namibia?

•        Can we become a place in which we try to demonstrate unconditional interest and a welcoming atmosphere?

•        Are we aware of the traumas and challenges in the lives of our learners? And perhaps also in the experience of our colleagues?

•        What can we offer as a community to the immediate social surroundings?

Aim: to develop a culture of interconnectedness and outreach

III. Vision, mission, attitudes, approach, responses and emotional interactions are as effective as intentions and actions:

The individual attitude to work, pupils, parents and colleagues has an immediate influence on the social dynamics and thereby also on the effectiveness within the organization.

•        Are we aware of the influence of our own thoughts and feelings, reactions and motivation on ourselves and our learners?

•        How do I find a positive approach in challenging situations without compromising my self?

•        Can I create a space in the classroom and in teachers meetings where feelings are allowed to be expressed and explored before they erupt and become destructive?

Aim: to develop a culture of honest self-awareness and reflection

IV. To perceive the outer (visible) and inner (invisible) aspects of the organization as equally real and important:

Who I am is what I teach. The congruity and authenticity of outer actions and inner values. ‘Do to others as you would like them to do to you’. 

•        How do we match the outer forms, structures and organizing of the school with inner qualities of equal value?

•        Can I spend as much time on inner reflection, preparation and growth (reading, sleeping, meditating, energizing) as I do on preparing the classroom, subject material, marking, etc.?

•        How can I grow to be the potential leader and also team-player that I know I can be?

Aim: to develop a culture of individual self-development

V. Steadfastness in the carrying out of resolutions:

An overall sense of commitment and accountability. Not taking on more than can be managed in a balanced and healthy way. Honoring the responsibilities and roles which have been agreed upon or mandated.

•        What do I need in order to be committed and accountable to my own intentions?

•        What part can I and do I want to play within the organization?

•        Can we support one another to carry out our resolutions?

•        How can we grow individual responsibility and support each other to carry out our responsibilities?

Aim: to develop a culture of commitment to task, work and responsibility

VI. Thankfulness:

A general mood of appreciation and gratitude for all possibilities, support, as well as challenges and opportunities within the organization. This can cultivate a mood of positive stability and attentiveness (mindfulness) which can be a source of strength, energy and enthusiasm.

•        Can I practice gratitude as part of my daily reflection?

•        Can I experience how a practice of thankfulness opens a new relationship to my surroundings, especially to the things I am grateful for?

•        Can I support those who are suffering and/or traumatized to find moments of gratitude?

Aim: to develop a culture of gratitude and appreciation

VII. Developing an overall quality of harmony, inner tranquillity, equilibrium in all the workings and dealings of the organization:

Creating and nurturing a balanced sense of breathing in the organization, resonance spaces for real encounters, sharing in conversation. This may grow into a quality of unthreatening honesty, care and support.

•        Can I find the time and space in which to develop my own sense of inner harmony?

•        Can I help to create such moments among colleagues in meetings, on the playground, in the classroom?

•        How can I become an instrument of gentleness and balance in the school without faking it or pretending?

•        How can I grow beyond my own needs and individual experience, even for short moments to see and act out of the bigger picture or reality of the school?

Aim: to develop a culture of magnanimity on all levels of the organization


Awareness of the need of earth   

In conclusion: in one of the esoteric lesson, given by Rudolf Steiner to members of the First Class, he describes the situation of the world as we know it today:

  •   At the boundary of the fear of oneself in all our limitations, courage of soul can awaken;

  •   In the apathy and passivity of the own self, the soul must awaken to itself;

  •   The fixedness and destruction of one’s own thinking, must yield to the fire of the spirit within.

And when facing the boundaries of the own thinking, we experience the limitation, the boundary, the inability to break through fixed ideas, conditioning, programmed attitudes and responses. In facing the limitations which confront us at such boundaries, motivated by the longing to overcome the tension and paralysis, trust the innate anxiety as a loyal companion, then the fire of courage can transcend the earthbound fixations. The motivating factor in this process of transcending is

mindfulness of the needs of the earth which may overcome personal anxiety and desires and maintain true humanity;

Courage, wakefulness and fire of thinking, as well as mindfulness of the needs of the earth and one’s fellow human beings, are the qualities, born out of the soul at the boundaries of disconnection, suffering and doubt. Thus, we can say that the suffering and pain at the threshold of being, awaken the spirit within the soul of humankind, thus transcending the paralyses caused by fear and anxiety.  

Joan Sleigh

May, 2019

[1] Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2006

[2] Charter on inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action

[3] Karl König: The Human Soul

[4] ebda

[5]Rudolf Steiner: Knowledge of the Higher Worlds


Lecture II: Succession: co-operating with competition

Safeguarding, Succession and Governance in the 21st Century

Michael and Ahriman

Emerson College 30th May – 2nd June 2019 


Communities and institutions for curative education and social therapy, inspired by and developed out of Anthroposophy, have been led by individuals steeped in the study of spiritual science and committed to a path of inner development. It is widely recognized that the substance and success of these communities, which radiates and touches visitors and general public, is largely due to this life of inner practice. In honour of the human being as a spiritual being living within a non-spiritual world, and in the attempt to nurture the dignity of each individual as integrated in a much larger reality of being, regular practices, rituals and methods have been established over the last decades. Examples of these are the celebration of seasonal festivals, regular cultural-spiritual activities such as plays, choir singing, religious services and the Bible Evenings in Camphill Communities.

Yet, as in the words of the invitation to this conference: “we have moved from a time where the elderly and their wisdom gained from experience were revered and form a “given”, to a time where the elderly are deemed expensive, obsolete, game for violent robbery, or simply ignored.”[1] These practices are now being challenged, changed and even forgotten, partly due to the movement from contained household communities consisting of house-parents and residents, to employed staff coming in on an hourly basis, to daily participants of workshops and team activities rather than the tried and trusted residential situations. Who, within the more rationally organized and less sacrificial approach is now responsible for the ethos and mindset of the community? Who will guarantee that the outer regulations of safeguarding and protection will carry a quality of social engagement which nurtures human dignity and social altruism? These concerns and a sense of duty to maintain and fulfil such well entrenched practices may result in the difficulty to let go of established patterns, to trust in the younger colleagues who may bring very different approaches and capacities, and to trust in the integrity and ability of others. This justified concern can easily manifest in holding onto positions of control, expressed through criticism and judgement of fellow-colleagues, manifesting anger and resentment within a place where commitment and capacity are questioned and challenged from both sides.

Can we see the disconnect caused by anger and resentment as an invitation to step into that unknown space in-between?

Dealing with anger on the way to compassion and co-operation

We discussed yesterday that fear triggers the instinct of escape ant today we will look at anger as being the instinct of combat.  Anger, resentment and aggression are another voice of pain, often caused by feeling misunderstood, disrespected, a lack of human dignity and acceptance of one’s being. This can result in violence to others or to oneself. Rudolf Steiner describes anger as a forerunner to something we wish or intend to develop, a capacity we do not yet possess. The reaction of anger is a subconscious judgement to something to which we can later pass a more enlightened judgement[2]. In this sense anger, as fear, is an awakener, even a teacher to the as yet unconscious aspects of our soul life. “Anger is not a sign of might and strength, but an expression of impotence. My helplessness in preventing an injustice arouses my anger and wrath. It ascends out of my soul like a glowing fire, fills me with disgust for and refusal to accept the event or person that brought the event about. After a time, it dies down, but leaves a remnant of hatred or distress, which may also turn unto forgiveness”[3] or compassion and understanding, based on an acceptance and honoring of own personal capacities.

Discuss personal triggers of critical judgement, competition, anger and mocking.

Further, discuss the relationship, if any, between anxiety and anger.

Once again, we can consider how anger as an uncontrolled emotional reaction, arising from the depths of one’s soul, can be transformed through facing, overcoming and reversing them into capacities of forgiveness, compassion and ultimately love. In “From Symptom to Reality” a cycle of lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in Dornach at the end of the first world war, he describes how the best way to deal with the evil, so prevalent in the world and current civilization can best be combatted through developing real human encounters. This therefore could become a concrete practice in daily community and social life.

Open-mind and open heart – encountering the other with empathy 

Seeing begins with taking interest in another, recognizing the true nature of another, quivering in the countenance of the other. I being of the observer moves out to touch, caress the observed object, thereby building a relationship with it. Through recognizing the god-imbued aspect of the other, reverence or devotion emerges. Through truly seeing the potential in the other, he is called to manifest that God-given nature hidden in his being. We call out the best in the other by seeing/ beholding him and invite it to manifest itself in the shared space in-between.

Listening to the other asks me to make space to take aspects of the other into my being. I open my own self in silence to the other, take myself out of the centre on my being to give space to the other. This is the space of love, allowing the being of the other into my own being. RS describes that listening actively to another while silencing own opinion and judgement, the other can find words to express his thoughts, feelings and intentions. These are invited into this shared inner space of love.

Understanding grows through the practice of empathy, a capacity relatively new to human social interaction, a quality of the conscious soul. Empathy goes beyond sympathy and compassion, it asks one to stand firm in the ground of one’s own being, but to also feel into and experience the other. This asks for courage to step into the unknown, the unpredictable. The Self finds strength in the vulnerability of experiencing both itself and the other; the other experiences itself as reflected through the empathic recognition. Empathy can also be called appreciative inquiry, out of which can develop a shared knowing of both self and other in a united sacred space. Is the capacity of empathy the basis of knowing, by expanding the grounded self-reflective awareness beyond the limits of the self?

Developing real encounters with and through one another:

I: Observation – Seeing and recognizing the Other - Beholding

Basis of any encounter is INTEREST in the other.

Difficulty in our time – SOCIAL AND ANTISOCIAL FORCES

Possibility of encounter: TIME, SPACE, SELF CONFIDENCE



‘I’ stands in own space, knows itself, ventures forth with interest, courage, intention

Question: ‘How are you?’

Problem Solving – the open space 

II: Participation – Hearing and Understanding the Other -   Inviting

ENGAGING with the other, becomes ACCEPTANCE

Recognizing similarities and differences: SYMPATHY, ANTIPATHY

Looking for partnership, empowerment, teamwork

Nationality, common IDENTITY – (language, customs, culture, geography)

Warmth – tolerance – becomes ACCEPTANCE

‘I’ knows Self in relation and in community with others

Question: ‘ What is your story?’ (narrative)

Teamwork – the warmed space

III: Transformation – Taking in the Otherness -  Witnessing

Acknowledging the Other’s DIFFERENCES

Homelessness, exile, loneliness, isolation

Cannot understand Other out of ‘accommodated Self

VULNERABILITY, letting go of known/familiar, moving on shifting sands, no stability

EMPATHY: recreating other in Self, changing with growth or trauma

‘I’ recognizes SOLITUDE, ISOLATION, LONELINESS of Self and Other (Rilke)Finds Self through the Otherness.

Question: Listening in silence to the unspeakable, speaking the inexpressible.

Mandate, individual responsibility within team – the active, healing space

IV: Integration – New Community? – Communicating


New community and commitment to OTHER

INDIVIDUALS create a new WHOLE in awareness of SELF and OTHER

Warmth – interest – tolerance – acceptance – empathy – UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

‘I’ expands to include aspects of the other. ‘I’ becomes ‘THOU’

Question: ‘What ails Thee?’

Service of a common higher goal in complete individual integrity – sacrifice – the sacred space


Love for the value of the earth.  

As touched on at the end of the contribution yesterday, the sixth esoteric lesson, given by Rudolf Steiner to members of the First Class, describes the situation of the world as we know it today:

  •   At the boundary of the fear of oneself in all our limitations, courage of soul can awaken;

  • In the apathy and passivity of the own self, the soul must awaken to itself;

And as we will still hear tomorrow:

  •   The fixedness and destruction of one’s own thinking, must yield to the fire of the spirit within.

In a similar way, the disconnection to other human beings experienced in the pain of isolation, anger and the longing for a connectedness, the human soul confronts its own apathy, its inability to move beyond its own familiar boundaries, uncontrolled annoyance, anger or disillusionment, to step into the unknown in-between in the encounter of the unknown other. Through painful recognition of the soul- weakness, the longing for belonging, the self may be urged to awaken.

  •   Engaging in a loving relationship to the values of the earth, can save the soul from apathy and violence;

In summary and conclusion, the Michaelic principle of affirmative engagement in the world can give guidance to the ethos of compassion, co-operation and love:

The Michael Imagination[4]

One of the Imaginations of Michael is the following: he rules through the passage of time; bearing the light from the Cosmos really as his own being; giving form to the warmth from the Cosmos as the revealer of his own being; as a being he keeps steadily on his course like a world, affirming himself only by affirming the world, as if leading forces down to the Earth from all parts of the Universe.

Ahriman Imagination

Contrast this with an Imagination of Ahriman: As he goes along he would like to capture space from time; he has darkness around him into which he shoots the rays of his own light; the more he achieves his aims the severer is the frost around him; he moves as a world which contracts entirely into one being, viz., his own, in which he affirms himself only by denying the world; he moves as if he carried with him the sinister forces of dark caves in the Earth.

Joan Sleigh

[1] ACESTA Invitation: text

[2] Rudolf Steiner: Metamorphosis oft he Soul; Lecture 2

[3] Karl König: The Human Soul

[4] Rudolf Steiner: Michael Brief vom 16 November 1924

Lecture III: Governance: doubting the silent presence

Safeguarding, Succession and Governance in the 21st Century

Michael and Ahriman

Emerson College 30th May – 2nd June 2019


Questions of leadership as well as individual commitment and responsibility are currently of societal concern in all fields of work, particularly those striving for an inclusive, co-operative ethos. The paradigm and implementation of a hierarchical system of governance and management no longer meet the needs of the organizations, nor are they acceptable to the individual self in the striving of unfolding their true potential.

Doubt and shame on the way to trust and forgiveness.

Intentional and life-sharing communities, as well as many institutional day-care centres are built on a deep understanding of the human being in its true humanity, striving for human dignity and individual development. Meeting and facing questions of destiny, guiding and accompanying growing levels of trauma, inequality and incapacity, build strong bonds of commitment and friendship. How can we expect those who have given their whole lives to establishing healthy and vibrant communities, grounded and maintained in cultural events and spiritual practices, to step aside and hand over the management and responsibilities to untrained and inexperienced young people, who seem to question tradition and challenge the old ways?  Apart from questioning well established structures of management and governance, perhaps they need to be asked to share what they see, what they bring and what they experience. Perhaps when recognized and acknowledged, they will do the same.

Here doubt and criticism, if not judgement of the outer phenomena creep into the meetings and collegial interactions: judgement of the interactions, the ways of doing things, even the ways of dressing and engaging, and speaking. And shame is often the brother of doubt…On the other hand, the younger people look with awe on the commitment, perhaps over-commitment of the elders, their courage and apparent know-how. Perhaps they would love to ask, perhaps they need to challenge, need to be seen, listened to and asked how they are doing. Shame is the feeling of being unprotected, exposed and naked in the face of outer situations which one cannot change, a feeling of being caught off guard, of being recognized in one’s limitations and incapacity. In other words, we would not feel shame or ashamed if we did not know that we were not living up to one’s true potential. I am ashamed of what I am, and of what I am not yet able to be! In doubt and shame, we are confronted by a higher judgement than our own, or perhaps be one’s own higher judgement. Doubt and shame are the awakeners of conscience, the motivation to stand up and face one’s personal incapacities and instincts.

In the words of Karl König: “Shame and fear are the two guides of our lower self, they keep it constantly in touch with its higher being. Shame and fear are like the borders of the mind and consciousness…. These two kindly beings accompany our lower self until it has gained enough strength to manage without them: to be able to meet a danger without the fear of death, and to meet self-recognition without the blush od shame. …

When anger has changed into love, shame has turned into hope, and fear has metamorphosed into courage (faith) “[1] then the soul of the human being begins to speak of itself, to name itself, to know itself within is whole being.

Overcoming, facing and reversing: these are activities conceived at the boundary brought about through disconnect, suffering and longing. Boundaries which are relentless until they can be dissolved through a new capacity. Where does such a capacity come from?

Let’s look at these inner spaces of reflection, of holding in. attentive spaces: attention is focus, but also letting go, as well as turning and letting come. Present, past and future: Focussing in the present, letting go of the past, turning and letting come from the future.

A wonderful example of this can be experienced in the fourth act of the fourth Mystery Drama when Strader, in his search for meaning and a deeper understanding of himself, could experience the guidance of Benedictus and the support of Maria in his meditative musings. Characteristic of such personal inner journeys is the challenging voice of doubt and mockery, a sense of fear and confusion, each of which have to be faced and met in steadfast courage and perseverance. This too was shown by Strader, resulting in a deep sense of peace, joy and revelation.

Leadership and Governance

Drawing from international research, Lee Bolemann and Terence Deal present in “The Wizard and the Warrior” a complex, multi-facetted image of true leadership: “Great leaders need to unite the creative imagination and insight (the magic and mystery) of the wizard with the courage, strength and stamina of the warrior.”[2]

Daniel Goleman takes this a step further in his research on Emotional Intelligence, by calling on the development of heart forces: recognition, praise, interest, empathy and ultimately love. He develops a sequence of self-directed learning, suggesting that leaders can only be effective once they embark on an inner path, aimed at mastering emotions and finding their true authenticity.[3] He describes the important practice of praise and constructive criticism, of the ability to draw on the hidden potential of each one in the team, as well as the influence of humour and laughter in group interactions.

Jack Jaworski, in his book Synchronicity, the Inner Path of Leadership, stresses the importance of the relationships within the team and the organization: Just being able to be there for others and to listen to them, is one of the most important capacities of leadership. It calls forth the best in people by allowing them to express what is within them, thereby giving it substance and legitimacy.[4]

Frederic Laloux, in Reinventing Organizations, describes organizations as living entities with their own evolutionary purpose. The strategy emerges organically from the collective intelligence of self-managing employees. Recruitment, training and appraisal are used to explore the juncture of individual calling and organizational purpose. Change imposed from outside the organization is irrelevant because it is itself in constant transformation from within.[5]

This brings us to the final consideration of what Rudolf Steiner says: We live in a time in which humankind is becoming consciously aware of its whole being, with the need to integrate the totality of all aspects into full consciousness. As can be observed in any biography, every stage of awakening consciousness is accompanied by disconnection and separation from the given, known, habitual way of being. In order to attain such full consciousness of being, the individual needs to isolate itself, withdraw into a shell and focus on its own developmental needs. Steiner calls these anti-social forces, which we experience as an inner drive. We seemingly have no choice but to pursue this inner anti-social motive. This can be unpleasant, even disturbing, in our relationships to others, yet it is an inevitable part of human development, a natural process in the awakening of consciousness.

There seems to be a call in all our systems of governance, to recognize and accept the anti-social drive of individualization, for leadership aspects such as taking initiative and responsibility can actually only be held by the individual, not by a group. However, these forces need also to be balanced through allowing times of dialogue and consultation in which each voice and opinion is equally valid. Through a practice of high-level communication skills, individuals in the group can find their voice and realize hidden aspects od themselves. Conversations developed in this way may transcend the number and capacity of those present and open the space for moments of unexpected intuition. At this point it is no longer my initiative or thought or feeling which counts, but a decision which is aligned to the reality of the moment, for the good of the whole organization.

Three modes of Leadership in a threefold process[6]

Autonomy or leading through individual initiative, is required in all aspects f cultural life, including visioning and self-development. It requires creativity, insight, magi and self-leadership. It can be used in brainstorming new impulses, designing programmes and conferences, visioning next steps either in the personal or organizational biographies.

Democratic leadership includes the voices of all involved in the decision-making. Promote meaningful involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in the needs assessment, design, implementation, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian preparedness and response programs and draw from their leadership, skills, experience and other capabilities to ensure their active participation in decision making and planning processes. This includes processes of implementation, monitoring and reflection, requiring the capacities of empathy, self-awareness and advanced communication skills.

Servant leadership encompasses the mutual intentions and goals of the organization, understands the bigger picture and transcends personal sympathies and antipathies. It requires capacities such as courage, stamina, open-mind and open-heart. This level of leadership can be attained after first developing autonomy and independence within the team, secondly establishing receptive spaces within the team, so that the decision can be taken by the team.

Although these have been described as three phases in time and can be consciously practiced in a well-guided team meeting, we can easily slip into using the wrong mode of leadership fir a given situation. These can be practiced and introduced as tools in an effective decision-making process.

An image which we can use as a very concrete and appropriate guide in the process of comprehensive and collaborative leadership, is the teacher’s imagination, given to the funding teachers of the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart hundred years ago.

Description of the teacher’s imagination….

To summarize and conclude

The sixth esoteric lesson, given by Rudolf Steiner to members of the First Class, describes the situation of the world as we know it today:

  •   At the boundary of the fear of oneself in all our limitations, courage of soul can awaken;

  •   In the apathy and passivity of the own self, the soul must awaken to itself;

  •   The fixedness and destruction of one’s own thinking, must yield to the fire of the spirit within.

And the guidance continues, alerting the human being at the boundary of his own consciousness that:

  •   Only mindfulness of the needs of the earth will overcome the lower instincts and desires and maintain true humanity;

  • Engaging in a loving relationship to the values of the earth, can save the soul from apathy and violence;

  •   Fearlessness, courage for spirit-imbued deeds for the earth will let the divine in humanity appear.


Courage, wakefulness and fire of thinking; mindfulness of the needs, love for the values of the earth and spirit-imbued deeds or actions are the qualities, born out of the soul at the boundaries of disconnection, suffering and longing. Thus, we can say that the suffering and pain at the threshold of being, awaken the spirit within the soul of humankind. The spirit which emerges in a new mindfulness, contemplation of the needs of the world; a new, gentle and unconditional love of the values, and a new way of seeing, beholding the divine in other human beings.

Joan Sleigh, May 2019

[1] Karl König: The Humn Soul

[2] Lee Bolemann and Terence Deal: The Warior and the Wizard; 2006

[3] Daniel Goleman: Emotional Intelligence; 2002

[4] Jack Jawarsky: Synchronicity, the Inner Path of Leadership

[5] Frederic Laloux: Reinventing Organizations, 2014

[6] Rudolf Steiner: The Threefold Social Order