Eurythmy applied to Life
Individuals familiar with Rudolf and Marie Steiner’s Eurythmy movement discipline will be able to easily point to it’s artistic, pedagogical and curative aspects. In the very early years of Eurythmic development the artistic elements and principles were laid down in practice rooms throughout Europe. As the Waldorf method of education took root in classrooms, so did the pedagogical aspects of Eurythmy flourish. And likewise as Anthroposophical medicine was being pioneered the curative and hygienic potential of Eurythmy was mutually discovered.
Today we can see in Anthroposophical centers and initiatives world wide this historical footprint laid down over the expanse of time. For myself and for many other like minded individuals, we share a common gratitude for Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual scientific research and most specifically the connections and parallels he drew between universal human movements and our unique facilities as human beings for speaking and singing. Out of theses insights Steiner brought forth with his wife Marie the new movement art she named Eurythmy. As most every Eurythmist you may meet will agree, that life times of practice, performances and research could only scratch the surface of understanding this art of Eurythmy.
Eurythmy has been brought up in Waldorf schools world wide. This form of education is what has imprinted this art from the very start till our present. In this new century, this art is coming of age. Eurythmy is showing signs of a maturity that is signaling a readiness for a more co-creative role with the rest of the world at large and in so, becoming a creative impulse of its own. As any creator of some art or invention can feel like their creation is their baby so it is also with eurythmy. And as any mindful parent would agree, a child out in the world on its own can be fraught with dangers and delights. We Eurythmists world wide are collectively co-parenting. How we as parents interact with our child is very important to her own independence, self esteem and ultimately her own autonomous actions. So it is with great concern for this child of ours (Eurythmy) and the future of Waldorf education that I share these thoughts.
Our child is starting to ask questions about how she was brought up. Where did she come from? Who were some of her relatives? Was she adopted? Does she have siblings? What were the parents doing and what was the world like at conception? Questions, and questions like any curious student of life would ask themselves, when faced with the predictable existential awakening period of their teenage years.
We as co-parents must strive to be as honest and fair minded as we can in trying to answer these questions. In the very act of trying to find answers too to these questions is when we may ourselves receive answers about our own life and role as co-parents. How can we co-parent, when Eurythmists around the world are so very different? Some of you may naturally be more of a carrot carrying parent (rewards based) and on the other extreme some of you as parents may favor brandishing a stick (punishments based). I trust that we persevere in not falling in favor of either extreme of the carrot or the stick when dealing with our child but find that the flow of creative solutions to any conflict or problem will always be available when we can seek back towards the heart of any matter and not get stuck in the extremes. This lemniscate of activity can keep us fresh, fair minded, fearless, friendly and free to be.
As a fellow co-parent I want to speak openly about some concerns I have about our child’s education and upbringing and want to offer some suggestions to consider. Over the years I’ve noticed that the arts and humanities in our Eurythmy schools curriculum is very strong and I applaud that. The sciences on the other hand have shown very little progress. Our child loves to perform and teach and when feeling a bit out of sorts can dip into the healing waters of its source for rejuvenation. I’m glad that we have taught her to seek self expression and that self education is appreciated as a life long task. And that self healing is a grace that we can all be grateful for. The part that I find that is missing from our child’s experience is the phenomenology of movement, the science of how she moves in the world, how her own body is a temple that reflects the science of all movements.
There is a historic perspective to keep in mind here in order to communicate my concerns. Eurythmy has most often been handled in a three fold manner, as I alluded too in the previous paragraphs. Thinking, feeling and willing are soul forces, the archetypal threefold paradigm that the Anthroposophical society has so often used to describe the nature of Eurythmy. Soul forces are immaterial in their essence, they rely on the fourfold archetype for material manifestation. Physical body, Etheric body, Astral body and the Ego or Warmth body. The earth, water, air and fire elements of our temple body. The fourfold archetypes provides the roof and foundation, heaven and earth of our temple body, thus allowing an interval space for our threefold archetype to live and weave within and about our bodily incarnation. Eurythmy as a living being, that is incarnating into our earthly world is a new view on evolution and must be understood not just as a threefold phenomenon but in tandem with the inherent fourfold archetype.
Our “tonal” bodies are the container for our “interval” soul forces. Physical, Etheric, Astral and Ego bodies allow our threefold soul forces to reside within the “interval” spaces of our fourfold bodies. Thus our willing soul mostly resides within the interval space between our Physical and Etheric tonal bodies. Our feeling soul mostly resides within the interval space between the Etheric and Astral tonal bodies. The thinking soul mostly resides within the interval space between the Astral and Ego tonal bodies. The light and dark of the soul, our sympathy’s and antipathy’s can then be refracted into that sevenfold rainbow of the indivisible eternal soul.
Four Fold Eurythmy
Fire.......Ego.................Artistic Eurythmy......................self-expression Air.........Astral.............Pedagogical Eurythmy.............self-knowledge Water...Etheric...........Therapeutic Eurythmy..............self-healing Earth....Physical.........Applied Eurythmy.....................self-care
To anyone concerned with Eurythmy and Anthroposophy, this child being born out of the Science of the Spirit is unique in that it is describing how the universal laws of speech and music are embedded within all of our movements. All humans are born and divinely designed with the common capacity to speak and sing. Steiner is pointing out that all our bodily movements have a parallel connection to our ability and organic function to speak and sing.
The elements and principles learned in a typical Eurythmy training needs to be applied, not just by being artistic or pedagogical in rendering stories, poems and music and then offering them in different venues such as theaters, schools or at the work space, but to apply these universal elements and principles to all human movements. Eurythmy seen in the light of an applied science would never put Eurythmy into a hierarchy of best and least favorite movement practices which is so often done, but would seek to perceive the elements and principles of speech and music embedded within Bothmer gym, Spatial Studies, Yoga, Martial Arts, Sport, Dance or any human movement activity. There is no long standing tradition, training or practice in attempting to do this, yet it is implied at the very core of Steiner’s philosophy of Spiritual Science.
One way to help in understanding Eurythmy as an Applied anthroposophical science is to qualify it by saying, “if Curative Eurythmy is movement medicine,” then the next question you could be asking yourself is, “then what is my daily movement diet?“ Medicine is often a food source that has been derived and compounded into a concentration or homeopathically into a dilution. Curative Eurythmy does just that, it prescribes only a few movements/sounds, done repeatedly, till fatigue sets in from doing the movements. The patient then lays down on their back in repose for some time, like shavasana, at the end of a Yoga class, which allows for the waters of our mostly fluidic body to settle into stillness. Then the patient can go on with the remainder of their day. This juxtaposition of movement and then stillness, allows for a proper imprint into our bodies, thus effectively creating a healing. A Curative Eurythmy session is like a mini dose of ones day and night cycle, only in a Curative Eurythmy session the focus is on the movement/sounds that will effect the organs or functions that are in question.
It is a valuable fact to understand that at no point during your daily conscious wakeful life, or sleep for that matter, do the forces behind the elements and principles of speech and music movements stop existing because your not thinking about them. The cosmic forces of the vowels, consonants, tones and intervals are constantly streaming and reverberating throughout our bodies from the heavenly heights and earthly depths. We don’t have the privilege or power to turn off cosmic evolutionary Etheric forces that have built up and maintain our temple body in our daily life.
What is your daily movement diet? Begin by looking at what ever movements you are doing in your typical day. Observe and take note of which movement/sounds you consume on a regular basis. Use what knowledge and experience you have gained in your own relationship with eating and nutrition and apply it to your daily movements. For example, does your movement diet consist of many striking movements? If so, then it’s crystal clear that the qualities of earth sounds, more specifically the “K” sound would be part of your daily menu of movements. Then ask what is the frequency and intensity of “K” in your daily menu? What kind of variety do you have in your movement diet?
You as a Eurythmist or someone familiar with the Eurythmy elements and principles can easily use your creative imagination to see these connections between your daily movements and what you learned from artistic, pedagogical and curative Eurythmy classes. Begin understanding the connections between what was originally given as artistic indications you may have learned from a classical Eurythmy training center and begin to see these elements and principles as a map or codex for understanding all human movements. “As above so below, in every part is a map of the whole”, should be a life long meditation. Just as language has the alphabet of vowels and consonants and music the tones and intervals, Physical and Etheric movements has Eurythmy. How you ensoul those objective movements is totally up to you.
Imagine how in the very shape and form of our hands, which is one part of our whole body, there is a map. The same is true of our feet, our eyes, still another map. Our ears, our tongue, more maps, until up to our modern time the very smallest part of our body, a single cell, still another map, the DNA. Now think about this, here comes this incredible guy Rudolf Steiner, the true father of modern wholism. He sees and knows about all these maps written into our temple body, except the DNA map, that came after his time. He obviously acknowledges all these historically significant bodily maps and then drops one of the ultimate wholistic truth bombs into our modern culture. Out of all these maps of the body that have been laid down by the wise men and women that are our ancient ancestors, Steiner realizes that no one had mapped out the one part of the body that has given birth to Eurythmy, our larynx and it’s associated organs that allow us to speak and sing. The one part that describes our whole body in movement through our ability for word and song.
This wholistic revelation of Eurythmy as a map or code, can help to solve the riddle of why Eurythmist are known for saying that Eurythmy is not dance. Eurythmy was at its first conception a wholistic science that could give inspiration to art, pedagogy and the healing arts. The modern artistic world understands that if you're using your body to express an artistic idea or soulful expression it’s called dance. Historically, Eurythmist will argue that what they are performing is not dance. Even though the rest of the world would understand that a Eurythmy performance is a form of dance, Eurythmist say it’s visible speech and song. And they would not be incorrect in saying so. It’s just that the underlying wholistic premise of the body/larynx is not being validated and passed on to future generations or even more specifically to Waldorf faculties and parents as a wholistic objective science. I taught full time Eurythmy for 11 years from grades K through 12 and had to struggle to develop not just as a teacher but how to bring students to the threshold of what is intrinsically valuable about Eurythmy, without using traditional extrinsic motivators. Understanding and developing an Applied curriculum for Eurythmy that is inclusive of all movement modalities was invaluable to my success and personal peace of mind.
Rudolf and Marie Steiner has gifted humanity with the possibility of awakening new capacities and abilities of perception. They have left us and future generations to grapple with finding the connections on our own or in collectives how the Eurythmic elements and principles are embedded in our daily movements, outside of the traditional Eurythmy lesson, performance or curative setting. They have left us a road map, a codex, the Rosetta Stone of understanding the intimate connections of our bodily form and function with language and music. Part of developing these new emerging capacities is learning to see and witness in human movements sound aggregates. Our movement bodies are usually in a constant flux and flow of one or more sounds/movements, that are colliding or merging into one another. So now anyone with the imagination, desire and good will can begin to perceive and experience these universal Eurythmic archetypes and in so doing awakens within themselves a new organ of perception, an evolving state of awareness that inherently is inclusive and whole.
Understanding Eurythmy as a universal Applied Science of Movement will lead to a realization that Eurythmy is inherently within each of us and the movements that we decide to gravitate towards in our life. Go forth, use your imagination as a tool to explore the uncharted Etheric landscapes before you in your daily life. In so doing receive renewed inspirations towards developing new capacities and intuitions. Be the playful, open and ultimately inclusive researcher who is accessible and uniquely human.
January's blog was authored by Dean Pollard (born October 29, 1959); a native Californian, US disabled military veteran, graduate from Rudolf Steiner College foundation year and Waldorf teacher training studies in 1989. Four year speech and tone Eurythmy diploma at the Zuccoli Schule Dornach in 1994. Full time pedagogical Eurythmist for six years at Sacramento Waldorf school and also creator and director of the Sacramento Waves Eurythmy Theatre group, a three year consecutive California state award winning collaborative high school performing arts theatre touring group. He went on to teaching pedagogical Eurythmy at the Santa Cruz Waldorf school for five years with an emphasis on all school Michaelmas performances for grades K-8. After that he went on to Site management of the Waldorf school facility in Santa Cruz for seven years as he began to develop Applied Eurythmy. He is now retired, living in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California developing the “Boulder Farm” a six acre natural granite outdoor rock climbing gym with his oldest son. For more info about Dean's workshops and lectures visit his website: http://www.appliedeurythmy.com/
The 2020 year's blogs will all carry a theme: "The World Through Eurythmist's Eyes". Eurythmy Channel Helsinki has asked to see the world through 12 different eurythmist's eyes and experiences. Through the blogs we can have some expression of that how practising eurythmy can transform human consiousness and the way of understanding the world and oneself.
Vuoden 2020 Blogit käsittelevät teemaa: "Maailma eurytmistin silmin". Eurythmy Channel Helsinki on pyytänyt saada nähdä maailman 12:sta eri eurytmistin näkemänä ja kokemana. Blogien avulla voimme saada jonkinlaisen ilmaisun sille, miten eurytmian harjoittaminen voi kehittää ihmisen tietoisuutta ja tapaa ymmärtää maailmaa sekä itseään.