"A Free Spirit who pursued a universal religion that would put an end
to all controversies between Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Gentiles."
The blog, which is just as much about my life and my work, is primarily directed to anthroposophists, but because of the many links to my other blogs, books and lectures by Rudolf Steiner and other anthroposophical authors, it is also possible for non-anthroposophists to gain entry to this new land. Perhaps it will also motivate those who are not so sympathetic to this field or have only second hand knowledge of it, to reconsider their attitude.
In closing, I also extend my heartfelt thanks to my dear parents for supporting me; to my father especially for his continued financial assistance through all my seven years of study at McGill University in Montreal, Canada in all faculties, from three years of Engineering through Liberal Arts to four years of Music with a minor in Philosophy and then also my post-graduate studies for in total four years, first three months as a test-run in a Waldorf Teacher Training Course at the Goetheanum, Free School for Spiritual Science in Dornach, Switzerland, where I met the mother of my second son Jonas and thereafter at the Seminar for Young People, Art and Social Organics led by Herbert Witzenmann in nearby Arlesheim, and to my mother especially for always reminding me, "Robert, do something with your music!" I've neglected that for too long, but still hope to make up for it now with this blog in progress, (since it has not been proofread, it may contain spelling and other more conceptual errors, for which I offer my excuses and welcome suggestions for improvement.)
It was there that after a long more or less conscious soul search, I finally met anthroposophy founded by the Austrian philosopher and seer Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) through a tip by Pat Kester, the secretary of the local Biological Dynamic Farming Association, who came to the twice-weekly lunches at the Kushi House to seek a cure for her arthritis. I had namely asked her if she knew where all those initiates of old that I had read about in various occult books were nowadays and what they were doing. She referred me to the anthroposophical library in Los Angeles and an Australian-born Hollywood producer and Shakespeare expert Will Walshe. I joined his study group on The Philosophy of Freedom (also known as The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, one of Rudolf Steiner’s basic books, and soon started to openly introduce and proclaim my newly found discovery in the Kushi House, but was not long after told to pack up my bags and leave. (This even though George Oshawa, the founder of modern macrobiotics – a term which actually originated with Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland (1762-1836) in Germany – after visiting the Goetheanum in Dornach and after having seen there a photograph of Rudolf Steiner there, he advised all his students to study his work, something that was in any case not taken up by Michio Kushi.)
How and why I myself went to visit the Goetheanum, Free School of Spiritual Science founded by Rudolf Steiner in 1923 as the center of the Anthroposophical Society and what I discovered there, is described further down below in the commentary on the lyrics of Gypsy Scholar and the other numbers.
But it was my joyous discovery of Rudolf Steiner and his work that led me to identify myself with Mercurius van Helmont, since Rudolf Steiner has advised his students to study the work of his father, because of the latter’s research on a non-materialistic “spiritual chemistry”, which was published after his death by his son in Amsterdam. What particularly interested me in him is shown by the short description given of his life on the site of the Dutch Royal Library in connection with one of his books on the Genesis, from which I have translated the following: “Franciscus Mercury was the son of the most famous supporter of the teachings of Paracelsus: the physician Johannes Baptista of Helmont. His name has an alchemical association: he was born in 1614 shortly after a successful attempt by his father to make gold alchemically. Mercury (mercury) is an essential component in this. Moreover, Mercury (Greek: Hermes) is the alleged inventor of alchemy. He was an aristocratic idealist who started all sorts of social projects to help the poor and pursue an improvement in medical care. He was also an inventor: together with Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz he invented shoes with springs underneath. From a religious point of view, he was also a 'free spirit': he pursued a universal religion that would put an end to all controversies between Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Gentiles. The mystical insights of Jewish Kabbalah and of Christianity provided the basis for this, according to him. He spent a year and a half in a Roman prison, accused by the Inquisition of heresies of all kinds, and there he wrote his treatise on Hebrew as the natural language that everyone unknowingly masters. With a practical application of this theory, the deaf could easily learn to speak. And with success, as van Helmont tells here in the introduction to Eenige Bedenkingen [Some Thoughts], about a young man who wants to remain anonymous at his own request. This displayed text contains an explanation of the Bible text about creation, viewed from the Hebrew root text.”
And because I could readily identify myself with the sympathetic life and work of this "wandering hermit", as he has called himself, this Scholar Gypsy, I turned that title around to read Gypsy Scholar, first in 1972 as my stage name with which I introduced myself at the beginning of my concerts and thus now also as the title of this blog.
The line A knight of the Word who's laid down his sword is modeled after the historical figure of the original Count William of Orange from the ninth century, a paladin of Charlemagne, one of the last protectors of Celtic Christianity and the founder of the House of Orange, who because of his exemplary embodiment of the knightly virtues of courage, loyalty and righteousness in driving the invading Moors back into Spain at the battle of Barcelona in 801 was canonized in 1066 as the patron saint of Christian knights. After his military career as supreme commander of the Carolingian forces defending the southern flank of the empire, he laid down his sword and founded a Christian academy in a village now known as Saint-Guilhelm-le-désert in the south of France. But what is not (yet) recognized by academic historians is that he also went on a quest for the Holy Grail and played a leading role in the Grail kingship of Parzival in 848 in the castle of the Grail Munsalvaesche, located in the Arlesheim Hermitage, just South of Basel and within a stone's throw of the Goetheanum in Dornach. This and much more is contained in the book How the Grail Sites Were Found - Wolfram von Eschenbach as Historian published originally in German in 1974 by the Goetheanum. It was written by the Swiss anthroposophist Werner Greub, whom I sought out to meet in Dornach, after which I was eventually inspired to translate his research into English and Dutch and beyond that to establish a Willehalm institute for Grail research in Amsterdam and a new Willehalm Order of Knights of the Word named after the main character of the epos Willehalm by Wolfram von Eschenbach about this William of Orange, the latter being still in a status nascendi. More about this in my third song Old English Garden located in this area of the Alesheim Hermitage, an ancient Celtic holy site that became famous throughout Europe in the 18th century as an English Garden landscape.
2. Are You Listening, Peter?
(New York/ Woodstock 1970)
(Press on the title to play this road song about an ant-Vietnam war demonstration in Washington recorded in Woodstock sometime in 1970 with the members of the band of Irish singer Van Morrison (whose names I don't remember) on acoustic guitar, piano, bass and bongo with yours truly doing vocals and playing a 12-string Martin guitar. This audio file has been downloaded from YouTube, where it was uploaded by son nr. 3 Christiaan, after SoundCloud removed it for some unknown reason. Numbers between brackets again refer to the notes and background information below.)
Two Flying Dutchmen driving Logos down the line.
Are you listening, Peter? (1)
To continue in that sense: That all or at least many of those souls that converged on Woodstock and/or Washington were indeed driven by a more or less conscious desire for peace and justice, can be viewed in the perspective of the Beatitudes and the Second Coming of Christ against the subnatural force opposing this in the course of the 20th century, this my old friend from our Dornach days, the anthroposophist and astrosophist Robert Powell has showed in great detail in the Chapter IV "Sub-Nature and the Second Coming" of his book The Christ Mystery, further developed in The Inner Life of the Earth and updated in: "The Descent of Christ: Opening the Path to Shambhala," Journal for Star Wisdom 2017. I felt personally spoken to and found these words to be true, when it is written in that chapter (in my translation from the German version Das grösste Geheimnis unseres Zeitalters - Gedanken zur Wiederkunft de Christus, "With regards to the opening of the ports to hell through the descent of Christ through the subterranean spheres the time from 1969-1989 is the time of the confrontation with evil in the fourth subterranean sphere, which is directed against the sentient soul of the human being [i.e. that part of the threefold soul connected to our bodily nature as opposed to the consciousness soul connected to, or touched by our spiritual nature, with in between the so-called intellectual soul.] The true impulse of this period, which is connected to the fourth stage of the development of the new Christ impulse in the era of the Second Coming, is expressed by the fourth beatitude: 'Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.' Something of this impuls inspired those who demonstrated for peace, above all for peace in Vietnam, who hungered and thirsted for a just solution of an unjust situation there. From November 13 to 14 [should be 15 to 16] 1969 about 250 000 [should be half a million] demonstrators came together for peace in Washington to the largest demonstration of this kind that has ever taken place." .
We did have a sort of national alternative anthem in the song Blowing in the Wind by Bob Dylan (although I once met someone in New York claiming that he wrote this song), but we could not really make heads or tales from what was meant by the repeated refrain The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind. Now I see this on the basis of Rudolf Steiner's lecture on "The Work of the Angels in Man's Astral Body" as an anthroposophical imagination that explains how the angels, whose abode is in the wind, whisper in one's sleep, provided one is awake enough to hear it, what the solutions are to the burning problems of our times. (I can claim to be the only one, who at the end of of a Social Science Section meeting at the Goetheanum, was invited to sing this song, accompanied by my guitar and blues harp, and providing this interpretation, sometime before the turn of the millenium, earning a great applause..., although afterwards on leaving the building I overheard snaps of a conversation of a circle around the then leader of the Social Section Manfred Schmidt-Brabant about this sort of "Americanism" having no place in the Goetheanum.)
The Arlesheim Hermitage as Grail Landscape
The designation Grail landscape for this ancient mystery tradition of Arlesheim can become a living experience, if in the company of Rudolf Steiner (1) one tries to understand under the term Holy Grail all that is associated with the Christian renewal of the mysteries of the Orient which have re-emerged since the 4th century within the mysteries of the Occident. (2) Then also the supposition that the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate was the one responsible for the construction of the irrigation system and the hollowing out of the rocky caves for the purpose of building a mystery center in the Hermitage gains credibility. For Julian, who around the middle of the 4th century resided for some time in his palace nearby Kaiseraugst on the Rhine, was passionate in striving everywhere to connect the pagan mysteries with a cosmic, sun-like Christianity. (3)
Among those conceding that the Grail events possess at least some kind of earthly reality, it is now generally accepted that the Grail Landscape Terre de Salvaesche as described by Wolfram von Eschenbach in his Parzival romance is situated in the Pyrenees (Montségur) where the essential Grail events are said to have occurred in the 12th century. (4) Indications attributed to Rudolf Steiner, however, point to the direction of Arlesheim and the 9th century. (5) But because no conclusive documentary evidence was thought to exist, this question remained unresolved.
With the publication of Werner Greub’s work How the Grail Sites Were Found - Wolfram von Eschenbach as a Historian (6), however, this situation has since then changed considerably. For with this research report based on a careful comparison of the original (Middle High German) Parzival text with the geographical and topographical reality of Arlesheim and surroundings and by means of numerous philological, astronomical-astrological and religious-historical studies, Werner Greub has attempted to verify what has been handed down by Rudolf Steiner from a purely anthroposophic mode of spiritual scientific research. As such, Werner Greub has made the results of his research on the Hermitage available as a basis for discussion for those interested:
OLD ENGLISH GARDEN
I met you in an old English Garden
Down by a Swiss holy wood.
I met you in an old English Garden.
But the light in your eyes, made me realise,
That we met before, was it in the Persian war?
I showed you 'round that old English Garden
Down by a Swiss holy wood.
I showed you 'round that old English Garden.
From the fountain and the well to the sad maiden's cell,
Down the hermit's cave, where the home was for the brave!
We walked on down an old Celtic trail
Right down the middle of the vale.
We walked along an old Celtic trail.
Until halfway up a hill, we finally came to a still;
For here says the tale once stood the castle of the Grail!
- Guitar solo -
You left me in that old English Garden
Down by that Swiss holy wood.
You left me in that old English Garden,
Where the light in your eyes made me realise
That we met before; was it on Atlantis' shore?
Now I think back to that old English Garden
I think back to that old English Garden.
And though they say that love makes blind, in my case I did find
The opposite to be and that love makes you see!
I see you in my old English Garden
Down by your Swiss holy wood.
Down by your Swiss holy wood.