A week at the Goetheanum, to see the representation of the four Mystery Dramas by Rudolf Steiner (to whom I will dedicate a second post). In addition to this “theatrical initiation”, my first week in Dornach was a true initiation into the anthroposophical life of “every day” … so to speak, given that the atmosphere is so different from what all days we experience in today’s hectic life that the hill of Dornach seems another world. But this is a mistake dictated by preconceptions: life in Dornach is instead a possible alternative to the world in which we live. Thus, anthroposophy is inserted into the pulsating life through its multiple declinations.
With biodynamic agriculture: every morning on the banquet behind the carpentry there is a market where the products grown on the same hill are sold. The fact that the soil is cultivated following the biodynamic is immediately perceptible since day is full of insects of every species, in a quantity that I rarely remembered. Without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, fungicides and company, animals and plants return to a state of authenticity in the world. The cows graze peacefully with their horns still on their heads, waiting for some visitors to hand over the wild apples that grow just outside the fence. At night nature literally teems with nocturnal mammals, especially curly ones, which can be heard while they dig in the ground in search of insects and worms of which the earth is rich.
With art: be it painting, sculpture, architecture, art permeates life on the Dornach hill. Many visitors stop to sketch the organic forms that come to life in the Goetheanum, both inside and out, and in the buildings around it. Each has an accurate location in the landscape, so that the way they appear corresponds to that of the surrounding landscape to build a harmonious landscape architecture. So if architecture is for Goethe crystallized music, for Steiner it is a cosmic symphony. Organic-living architecture. It is also possible to see the stratification of the first phase of the organic-living style, which had as a paradigm the carved wood of the first Goetheanum, in the undergrowth of the second phase, that of the sculpted cement of the second Goetheanum.
With empirical observation: Goethe’s phenomenology, applied to the observation of nature, be it the shape of the leaf or rather of the sky, at the astronomical observatory. They showed us Saturn, with its rotation cycle and the sidereal dance of its rings. The aim is to unite one’s conscious perception with the object of study, so as to transfer one’s life into the observed object, making it suddenly come to life. Saturn is therefore not only the astronomical Saturn, a condensed sphere of gaseous materials that moves in space, but an organism charged with symbolic references evoked by the observer’s interiority, which becomes part of it as he increases his knowledge of astrological wisdom that the planet carries. Saturn, the most distant planet known in antiquity, from which the whole cosmos has subsequently condensed itself, towards the center, whose slowness is synonymous with the inexorable flowing time. Old age, hardness, melancholy, spleen, spleen. Structure, boundaries, skin. Death and rebirth as the apex of cosmic midnight, or the highest point of the journey of the human spirit after death, which thus returns to Earth in a new incarnation.
There is great love in everything that is done here at the Goetheanum, respect for things as they are. For example, food that is not consumed during the day is made available at the bar closing at 8 pm: it is thus possible to take it leaving a free donation until the evening closing of the Goetheanum at 10 pm, or free the next morning. In this way there is no food waste, the cost remains contained and the food itself is respected together with the human being who is destined to consume it.
And again, at the library, they offer a continuous selection of old books, sometimes substituted by the library, sometimes not sold, which they make available for 4 euros. You can find everything from Steiner’s Opera Omnia volumes, to books on pedagogy, agriculture, art, history; so that even those who don’t want to spend too much can find something to read. But even if a new book ends in oversight in the pile of those to be sold, this is sold equally to those few euros: it happened to me, I found a book I was looking for, on the history of religious architecture and its metamorphoses. It was a new book whose price on the cover was 25 euros, despite being in those of 4. So I asked the bookseller what the right price was, and he smiled at me and said: “for today it’s 4 euros”. And to say that the books are displayed on external stalls, without any personnel checking them.
There is therefore a widespread trust for humanity that flows like sap through all the activities that take place. The young people who study at the Goetheanum are given the opportunity to cut down the costs of living in Switzerland, doing the work for the community, whether they are cleaning the interior spaces, the kitchen service of the canteen, such as bartenders, waiters, and more. All this for about 20 euros an hour … but the figure, high in itself, is nothing compared to the spirit of union that this creates: so the young have relationships with all the visitors, they earn something for them and they maintain the space in which they live in the honour of the world.
Everything is taken care of because it is important in itself, because to every existing thing is given the dignity of being, interior and exterior. In the anthroposophical conception of the world, in fact, every object of reality is at a certain degree of development of its cosmic evolution, the task of human beings is therefore to infuse these manifold beings, be they minerals, vegetables, animals, works of art , products of the earth, furniture, machines even – any object of study – love, first through the knowledge of the object and subsequently the awareness of its processes of development and transformation over time. This following the metamorphosis of things helps to give a whole life that gradually becomes more and more independent, in a choral process of individualization and therefore liberation.
At the first group conversation, one of the members of the Goetheanum management, the Vorstand, immediately put me in touch with other Italian boys who are attending the international course. So there was not even time to feel a little lost, having gone there alone: I could immediately make friends with the students who live there all year. And from the Italians to Dornach, I moved on to the rest of the world, with Korean, Japanese, South American and so on. From morning to night, ideas and impressions of the representations were exchanged between each of the Mystery Dramas, each time discovering something about us. But often they were perfect strangers who, just smiling, started talking to each other. In the evening they gathered around the fire until late at night.
Yes, another society is possible: more discreet, so that it leaves the space necessary for the cosmos to reach the man who lives there. Freer, so that man can reach the cosmos with full consciousness. These are the results. There is life in this anthroposophical conception of the world, which from the light source of the stars reaches the chatter around the lit bonfire. It is truth that creates life.