Annual Motif

Studied by groups worldwide

Provided from the Goetheanum

2019/20 Annual Motif for the Year

The annual motif and annual theme of the General Anthroposophical Society

For several years now, the Foundation Stone Meditation has been the focus of our work. The practice of the soul, which learns to experience itself more and more as a threefold being in its connection with the cosmos, is a central motif forming and sustaining the Anthroposophical Society. In the coming year we would like to continue deepening the work, focusing once again on the second verse. This time we will explore exercises of spiritual contemplation leading into meditation. Wolfgang Tomaschitz, General Secretary of Austria, and Jaap Sijmons, General Secretary of the Netherlands, have written two texts which provide suggestions in this direction.

In the following issues of Anthroposophy worldwide you will find further contributions on the theme, which can serve as inspiration for the work in your Societies, Branches and Groups. As recommended reading we suggest Rudolf Steiner’s ‘The Christmas Conference for the Foundation of the General Anthroposophical Society 1923/24’, CW 260.

Meditative experience of time through the second verse of the Foundation Stone Meditation

The possibilities of a meditative approach to our living with the Foundation Stone Meditation are manifold. Often the reflection on a word or a line can open wide horizons. Here an attempt of such an possible exercise is described.

Experiencing the future: Sunrise

One of the many aspects of the middle verse of the Foundation Stone Meditation has to do with the way we experience time. The verse can lead into a more vivid experience of time than is usually accessible to everyday consciousness and in this experience dissolve the very strong forces which in our time, as Rudolf Steiner once said, reject “what intends to come into our souls from the future”[1]

One possible form of meditating on this theme is the following:

As a first step one reflects on the very limited possibilities of our everyday consciousness with regard to the future. This is completely dark from the point of view of everyday consciousness. We simply don’t know what the next minutes, the next hour, the day tomorrow, etc. will bring. We can only expect the future. As Rudolf Steiner has repeatedly pointed out[2], this situation is constitutive for our everyday understanding of ourselves and the world, and the involuntary reaction to it is fear. A fear of the unknown, the unpredictable which, as Rudolf Steiner once said, not without humour, we carry in us as an underlying mood as “surefootedness of our lives”[3]. If one does not simply follow involuntary emotions but takes one’s feelings in hand a little[4] in this experience, the result of such reflection can be condensed into a positive mood. For example, the mood that the future is radically open in the fullness of its possibilities.

In a second step, this result can now be supplemented by an image. The image of the rising sun[5] in whose fire nothing of the coming day has yet taken shape. This should be the accent of the second step: the image of the warming sun symbolizing an as yet unshaped future, into which we can venture because it is not alien, but has something in store for us. It is as if it wants to make something out of us. This is how one could describe the meaning that arises meditatively from the interplay of reflection and imagination. The mood is no longer anxious, but confidently anticipating, surrendered to “letting oneself be taught by reality”[6].

In a third step what has been established meditatively can now be accentuated and deepened by the addition of a line from the middle part of the Foundation Stone Verse: “Let there be fired from the East what through the West is formed”. Now the meditative event gets a stronger traction into the essential being, it becomes possible to voice a request. The future is no longer only open, but is experienced as something of purpose, as a conversation of the still formless with that which takes shape and gives shape. From here numerous further perspectives of experience, but also new questions can open up regarding my being woven into[7] this conversation, in relation to the powers of the East and the West in me, regarding the Michaelic experience of qualitative time[8].

The interplay of reflection, image and verse can be described as a meditative practice in which the meaning of the verse is brought into the realm of soul experience and at the same time the experience is guided and illuminated by the verse. 

Experience the sun at midnight or the sun at night:

Thus, in the soul a path of practice from thought, image and word rounds itself off. This path would not exist if a living light is not cast into the soul from the spirit, which is caught as imagination or shadowed into thought. We encounter the essential at every step, even if we are not aware of it.

Full of hope we live towards the sun. Where does this strengthening anticipation of the light and warmth of the rising sun come from? Here we are referred to an opposite experience, that of the sunset and the night. From where do we find the way through the night? Let us look at the process of waking. We emerge with our consciousness from the lack of light and images and turn towards the sun. If unprepared, this gaze can hardly be penetrated. Let us reflect upon the fact that what we feel so strongly as the insecurity of the open future that lies ahead of us, we do not feel in the same way regarding what the night brings us every morning, nor about what lies behind us. We feel the power of incarnation. It comes out of the limbs through which our ego organization and the astral body enter our physical and etheric bodies.[9] 

Rudolf Steiner gives an imagination to feel ourselves into the spiritual reality. We should think to ourselves, behind the golden sunshine in the day sky, there work the beings of the second hierarchy. We were with them in the night. This is the image of the sun at midnight, appearing behind the earth, because we followed the course of the sun from its disappearance in the evening light and its appearance in bluish reddish glow in the night. Morally the sun makes an impression on us, becoming ever more essential in its beingness. These are the hierarchies we encounter in the night sun[10].   We experience, or remember, in the night all our previous incarnations and dive back again into our present ones. The hierarchies also look back on our previous earth lives and show us in the world of the sun during the day what we are may see of our karma in the visible world, this ‘storeroom’ for the demonstrations in karma on the part of the gods’[11].    

Thus we live in trust with the sun, because we feel in our souls that we may expect what will come to us from the hierarchies and what we have already experienced in the night. We come into a soul equilibrium when we feel that the rhythms of day and night let us experience the meaning of our earthly existence. Perhaps we can hear this in the words of the Foundation Stone Verse: ‘For Christ’s will prevails in the surrounding world, in the rhythms of the world, blessing souls’.

The sunrise and the memory of the sun at midnight become for us the image of the pure essence of time in the soul, in the heart and in the head, into which the sun can rise through our moral impulses from the night.



[1] GA 59, The mission of prayer, Lecture of 17 February 1910 Berlin

[2] Particularly in GA 13, Chap. Die Weltenentwicklung und der Mensch and GA 115, 4th lecture of 4 Nov 1910

[3] GA 134, Lecture 28th December 1911, Hannover

[4] See Rudolf Steiner’s suggestions for the practice of Positivity and Objectivity in GA 13 and 95, where the relationship to the experience of time is formed

[5] About the meditative weight of the Imagination of the Rising Sun not much needs to be said; Rudolf Steiner’s references range from Knowledge of Higher Worlds to the “Leading Thoughts.” Perhaps less conscious is the connection between warmth and time experience, as indicated in the line “The blessing of love, it warms the times, to summon the revelation of all worlds” from Benedictus’s  meditation for Johannes in the third scene of the first mystery drama.

[6] GA 134, Lecture 28th December 1911, Hannover

[7] GA 134, Lecture 28th December 1911, Hannover

[8] GA 229, Lecture 13th October 1923 and GA 26 “The world thoughts in the working of Michael and the working of Ahriman” and “Where is the human being as a thinking and remembering being?”

[9] GA 236, Lecture 27th June 1924, Dornach.

[10] GA 236, Lecture 27th June 1924, Dornach

[11] GA 236, Lecture 22nd June 1924, Dornach.