Meditative Symbols from the Esoteric School 1906

Rudolf Steiner

Above is a page from Start Now! a book of soul and spiritual exercise, edited by Christopher Bamford. These meditative symbols were preseted in the Esoteric School of the German Chapter of the Theosophical soiciety. I used them as a prompt for discussion in my Design I class today, 1/26/2022. I have given two assignments using line as the main element. We looked at works of art that predominantly use line, talked about what line is, and how it conveys meaning and then began the two assignments. The first assignment was to divide the paper into three sections. The section on the left was to use staight lines, the section on the right, curved lines, and the one in the center a combination of the two. It is interesting to see how every student interprets this assignment.

In my own mind, I relate these ideas to Hegalian dialectic (thesis/antithesis/synthesis). This may seem symplistic but it lends order to my somtimes cluttered mind. It is also usful to see this exersize and other similar exersizes in relation to Steiner’s group sculpture, adding deapth to simplicity. I do not always tell my student’s everything I am thinking. It is a secular state run university and I do not want to overload my students from the start, nor do I want to trigger too many snap judgements on the part of my students.

I created my own rendering of Steiner’s diagram, seen below. I aranged them in two collumns to fit my paper, reading from top to bottom and frome left to right. I started with blue line because I was not ready to comit to a darker black line. I had intended to somehow incorporate color but the more I thought about using color, the more I was uncertain how to accurately associate color with each symbol. What colors would be appropriate. I think this would require a longer process of rendering each line symbol six times, one for each primary and secondary coler. In this way I could see how each color changes the way we might interpret the symbol. I may do this at some point but for now I am simply struck by the inherant power of each symbol alone.

  1. What is to disappear and to rise again out of ones dissappearance.

I talked to my students about how we can see these figures in nature. You can see the first in the flow of water and clouds, and apparrant vortexes in cosmic space. It can also be seen in flowforms:

This figure can be related to the life cycles in nature. That which arises from the earth, falls into decay, then disappears back into the earth to arise again in new forms. The most obvious example being the seed or seed pod. The essence of the plant disapears into the seed but rises again as a new plant often with subtle changes. In sleep, our soul and spirit nature dissappears into the spiritual cosmos then reappears again, revitalized upon waking. In death this process seems more permanent, and in one sense it is. We will never wake into this same body again, but as the cycles of time continue, our soul natuere is reinvested in a new form, in a new body and a new life. The spirit continues to act in the physical world both recycling the physical substances our old worn out bodies once contained, but also the spiritual soul substance that we helped to develop in the life we lived.

2. How does the point become a circle, and the circle a point?

3. What is inside, what is outside?

What is above, what is below?

What is matter, what is spirit?

What is substance,what is etheric?

4. What isd Astral?

5. How do the spirits of sensation work on the bearer of substance?

6. How does the turn occur in evolution?


Picture this asif the lines were clasps made of fishbone, but at every moment resisted their position with all their strength.

(More on each figures later)