This event was co-sponsored by Threefold Educational Foundation and the Anthroposophical Society in America, and was made possible in part through a generous grant from the Rudolf Steiner Charitable Trust with support from SteinerBooks and generous individual donors.
How to Prepare

Some Ways Participants Can Prepare
for the Mystery Drama Conference

In Spring Valley, New York, this summer all four mystery dramas will be performed together in English for the first time by the same troupe. The only other time all four plays were performed together in English was in 1998, when they were performed by different groups at the Goetheanum. To mark this occasion, a conference will provide the context for the performances and will take place over nine days. During this time, in addition to seeing the plays, people attending the conference will have the chance to hear lectures related to the plays, be a member of a discussion group, and participate in an artistic activity. The Conference Core Group has organized the conference around the theme of the future of the Anthroposophical Society and how the mystery dramas help awaken our inner eye for that future.

The Core Group has taken up inner work to prepare for the conference and wishes to share this inner work with all the participants involved in the conference. One part of this work has been to carry as a group the meditative words that they use to open and close their meetings. These words will also sound throughout the conference. They are from the first drama, the end of scene seven of The Portal of Initiation, where Benedictus gives Maria and Johannes the following words of strength:

And while you journey on the path of soul, wisdom itself will teach you that highest goals can be achieved when souls will give each other spirit certainty, will join themselves in faithfulness for healing of the world. The spirit’s guidance has united you in knowledge; so now unite yourselves in spirit work. . . .

Light’s weaving essence radiates
from one human being to another
to fill the world with truth.

Love’s blessing gives its warmth
to souls through souls
to work and weave the bliss of all the worlds.

And messengers of spirit join
human works of blessing
with purposes of worlds.

And when souls who find themselves in the other
can join these both together
the light of spirit radiates through warmth of soul.

Also, the Core Group has studied the karma lectures that discuss the karma of the Anthroposophical Society. Given by Rudolf Steiner over the month’s time from the beginning of July through the beginning of August, 1924, these lectures can be found in Volumes III and VI of the Karma Lectures. In these lectures the karma of the Platonist and Aristotelian streams, the inauguration of the new Michael Age and the battle with Ahriman are described.

Moreover, the Core Group has turned to the two karma exercises given by Rudolf Steiner. The first of these two lectures was given on May 4, 1924 and is known by some as the “Transparency Exercise.” The second of these two was given on May 9, 1924 and is known by some as the “Four Day Karma Exercise.” Interestingly enough, these two lectures emphasize the purification of the astral body as a crucial element to the exercise of seeking answers to the riddles of destiny. This fact leads over to the last part of the Core Group’s preparations for the conference.

The Core Group has also prepared for the conference by formulating and collecting their own leading questions to be carried into the conference. Their process of formulating, clarifying and carrying questions over the last several weeks has been experienced as an essential common spiritual work.

In regard to the significance of asking questions, the Core Group turned to the lecture of January 6, 1914, Berlin.* In that lecture, Rudolf Steiner speaks about the Parzival mystery in the larger context of mankind’s spiritual evolution of consciousness and initiation:

The fruit to be gained from the Parzival mystery . . . is that we learn to ask questions in a way that is in accord with our own time. Learning to ask questions is to follow the upward stream of human evolution. . . . If at truly solemn moments in life we seek to reflect what we may gain from a story such as the legend of Parzival, who was meant to ask questions when he went to the Grail Castle, that story can become an example to us in our movement.

The inner work of the Core Group will culminate in a two-part meeting that will take place on August 7 and 8, before the conference. This meeting will include the discussion group leaders and artistic workshop leaders. In the meeting our questions can be shared in the spirit of the Parzival mystery and offered to the spiritual world as a way of sanctifying and protecting the inner space of the conference.

The Core Group does not see the conference as a “cozy retrospective” of the dramas. Rather, we seek to explore through this event the relevance of the Mystery Dramas to our current relation to anthroposophy and the Anthroposophical Society and its task in the world. The Parzival mystery, which is the mystery of modern initiation, is at the center of our considerations.

The fourth Mystery Drama, The Souls’ Awakening (or, The Awakening of Souls), turns in scenes seven and eight to the relation of the Egyptian Mysteries to our current time and the important influence that events that took place in that time have on the characters in the play, and may similarly have on our situation today within the Anthroposophical Society.

The Parzival gesture of asking questions is a way of preparing the soul for purification that creates receptivity within the soul for the Sophia. It leads to the fulfillment of the Christ in each of us, as described by Steiner in the lecture mentioned above. It can be helpful to pair this lecture with the last lecture of the St. John’s (Hamburg) Cycle, May 31, 1908 (which is also included in the Isis, Mary, Sophia compendium cited above) in order to fully grasp the spiritual relations that are inherent in the action of asking questions as an inner work.

Such a path of preparation makes it clear that the content of these plays not only raises issues that are relevant to the Anthroposophical Society, but also to world culture today.

 


*See the new volume, Isis, Mary, Sophia: Her Mission and Ours (pages 158-172) or the most recent publication of The Fifth Gospel, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, Lecture Nine (pages 138-154).

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