The following is a translation of the instructions given by Rudolf Steiner to his pupil Herbert Hahn for the Four Weeks of Advent. It is the first published Italian translation of this text. It is followed by my esoteric comments on the indications as well as the commentary on the Imaginations for the Advent Angels according to the indications of Soline and Pierre Lienhard.
These considerations are the fruit of the meditations conducted during the Four Weeks of Advent and the Twelve Holy Nights. They are also listed as Thirteen Holy Nights and we will see why.
To go further into the Holy Nights, you can read them:
The Four Weeks of Advent
13 Holy Nights - Part One: December 24-31
13 Holy Nights - Part Two: 1-6 January
Book - The Thirteen Holy Nights and Anthroposophical Christmas
Kristina Kaine - Kristina Kaine - The 12 Holy Nights - Part One: 24-31 December
Kristina Kaine - Kristina Kaine - The 12 Holy Nights - Part Two: 1-6 January
Rudolf Steiner - Esoteric Indications about Christmas for Herbert Hahn
Preparation for Advent
During Advent it is important to be prepared during the waking life, at the arrival of Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve and Holy Nights as a whole. This is done by lighting the Advent Candles. The succession of the four candles depends on the colour of the Advent angels, of which they are a symbol. The candles are lit every morning and extinguished every evening until Christmas Eve. Usually they are placed on a tray or a fir tree crown, decorated with other plant symbols of Christmas (red balls, white balls, etc.).
Before Advent: Blue Candle
Second of Advent: Red Candle
Third of Advent: White Candle
Fourth of Advent: Purple Candle
The Advent Angels take turns one after the other, the previous Angel is added to that of the following week, so that at the beginning of the Fourth of Advent all four candles will be lit simultaneously. The Four Candles of Advent may already all be present, but they must be lit in sequence, and they can be set up at the moment when the Christmas Tree is decorated and the Nativity scene is made, better if in the first full week of December (which in Catholic tradition corresponds to around the Immaculate Conception of Mary, on December 8).
Make a brief note, in a chronologically ordered diary, of all the impressions received during the four weeks of Advent.
For Advent Time
For light seekers, life's difficulties should be a special touchstone in the Advent period. We must always strive to separate the person from the cause of suffering, because suffering and difficulties are sent to us as trials, and the people who cause us difficulties are only tools. We should adapt to every situation, rest, without getting lost in it! - The content of the great desire of this time is to truly incorporate the Divine (state of birth), and not only to experience the Divine in exceptional situations. Everything that is connected with the earthly personality should be eliminated and we should be as spontaneous, completely relaxed, towards each other. Everything we talk about and understand, discussions, irritations, we should leave all these ballasts. Before every great feast there is an opportunity to overcome something in itself, it is sacrifice!
Sacrifice, the "making sacred", is what the anthroposophical spiritual impulse accomplishes according to the scientific-spiritual method: the understanding of Evil and its transmutation and redemption. This is in direct connection with the Rosicrucian impulse, as well as the Manichaean impulse. The Rosicrucian impulse that acts in the passage between the Fourth Epoch of Culture of the rational soul and the Fifth Epoch of the conscious soul, around 1400, works on the spiritualization of the will and therefore the redemption of matter, through alchemy; while the Manichean impulse acts in the passage between the Fifth Epoch of Culture of the conscious soul and the Sixth Epoch of the Spiritual Self, working on the understanding of Evil, which is also the Way of the Grail. The anthroposophical impulse includes the Rosicrucian one and anticipates the Manichean one.
He who wants to pose himself with a soul predisposition suitable for the time of Advent, must momentarily lay down his own personality, to discover himself again as a child "Let the children come to me, do not prevent them because to those who are like them belongs the kingdom of God" (Luke 18: 16), because the Light that will shine in the darkest night is also the Star of the Magi, it is the Self of Zarathustra that will be revealed in the Jesus of Matthew's Gospel at his birth in the Temple on January 6 at Epiphany, when the cycle of the Twelve Holy Nights will take place on the 13th Night. At the time of the Winter Solstice, on December 21st, there is the shortest day of the year, when the physical Sun's forces are at their minimum, being at the peak those of darkness, that is, of matter. This day is foreshadowed on December 13, when Saint Lucia is celebrated "The darkest day there is", since the perception of darkness is worsening from December 13 to 21.
Yet, the physical Sun being at the lowest of its strength, it is the Spiritual Sun that is at its peak, shining in the heart of the Earth, that is, in the heart of matter itself. Because of the hermetic axiom "as high so low" the divine element, the Light of the Spiritual Sun that shines in the darkest hour, comes to inhabit the human soul enclosed in the physical body. "Truly I say to you, if you do not change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3). Our becoming as children predisposes us to catch the spiritual glimmer that lights up in this season of Advent. The more Evil will be, the darker the material darkness will be, and the more it will filter out the physical Sunlight, paradoxically translating into an impulse of the most powerful Spiritual Sunlight. Advent predisposes the soul of man to experience the Twelve Holy Nights in greater consciousness.
Indications for Christmas
Grace. Advent, the light that comes to illuminate everyone in the middle of the night. The earth has completely emptied itself, life has withdrawn. The Earth is like an empty shell. All the juices of the vegetable kingdom withdraw. Everything prepares to receive the Divine.
The state that the esotericist must yearn for in this period is "Grace". The greatest darkness brings the Earth into a state in which its soul, the Anima Mundi, is concentrated toward the Center of the Earth. The breath of the Earth is now in the culmination of the inhalation phase, the Earth holds its breath. This breath will then be completely exhaled during the polar season, at the Summer Solstice. The result is that Nature lies as if dead under a blanket of pitiful snow, i.e. solidified starlight (note the archetype of the Hexagram in both Starlight and Snowflake). This breath of the Earth, its Soul, is all around the Center of the Earth, where the Self of Christ resides. The vegetable juices, which are carriers of the vital force, the etheric, are concentrated towards the roots and therefore also towards the centre of the Earth.
The Self of Group of the plant species also reside in the innards of the Earth, towards the Center of the Earth, so that the etheric body of the Earth and man are in a "state of Grace" ready to receive the impressions of the Spiritual Sun. This "physiological" quiescence present in the whole of Nature with its living beings, derives from the stillness of the etheric body of the Earth, of the Plant Kingdom and as a reflection for the Animal and Human Kingdom. It translates into a stillness of waiting, the Advent in fact. The etheric body is less stressed by physical impressions and therefore the physical senses withdraw, man becomes able to perceive more closely the spiritual world already from Halloween (31 October), All Saints (1 November) and for the Dead (2 November). However, it is only at the coldest and darkest point of Winter that the boundary between the supersensitive worlds and the physical world becomes thinner.
In the first of Advent man must prepare himself for sacrifice, for Service and be ready to serve and love. He should observe himself with the inner eye and experience this day as the celebration of the desire of birth. The consecration of the celebration is: "I dedicate myself to the ministry of the Spirit that must be born in me. The thoughts are directed to the Christ who is born in man.
On this day it is the Spiritual Light that descends from the cosmic heights to dwell among men: the Spiritual Light desires to be born and assume a human face, a process that will be accomplished only with Baptism in the Jordan, celebrated on the first Sunday after the Epiphany of January 6. The inner eye can open more easily. Just as the etheric body of the Earth is preparing to receive the Spiritual Sun, so the etheric body of man can have clairvoyant perceptions in the Etheric World during wakefulness and more intense dreams at the moment when in sleep it plunges into the Astral World. Such experimentation of the super-sensitive worlds is not, however, to be understood as something to be selfishly restrained, but must become the "Ministry of the Spirit," so that the esotericist gradually becomes a more faithful representative of the Christ force that heals and vivifies the soul of man.
The sense of hope that arises in the soul of the esotericist heralds the transformation of the physical body into the body of hope, the virtue of Hope. The First of Advent is thus connected with the Will and the forces of the Father.
The Blue Angel is the angel associated with the imagination of the First of Advent: he is the angel of Silence. Recollection in silence, both interior and exterior, causes the noise of the physical world to break down and place the etheric body in a state of greater reception. In this imagination there is the secret of the Initiate to the Mysteries who must keep silence about his individual experience in order to continue on the path of initiation, being able to share only the fruits, that is, the soul effects of what is the true spiritual cause.
Blue is the color of the earthly element seen spiritually, it is associated with Saturn and therefore with the Ancient Saturn, where the Sacrifice of Thrones formed the germ of the physical body. It is also the color of the cosmic depths.
Second of Advent
The man begins to search and feels in his search that alone he is unable to do anything. Then prepare his heart for the Divine to house him, because when I do without the Negative, there is space for the Divine.
The esotericist feels that his animic and spiritual forces, no matter how trained, can reach a certain degree of understanding and clairvoyance, but that, at a certain point in order to proceed, it is necessary to place oneself in a state of devotion useful for receiving the Spiritual Light. We can imagine Evil as a crystallization of the personality, the lower self, which occupies the space that should instead welcome the Divine in the human being. When we succeed in dissolving these selfish concretions, then we create an empty space. To illuminate the darkness means to make an emptiness of what of our soul is attached to matter, of what is obscured by it. Matter is light condensed into darkness. This darkness can be investigated by the esotericist, but only up to a certain point: in this period it is from the Cosmos itself that the darkness that fills the space comes, so that the living world, especially the vegetal one, concentrates toward the Center of the Earth, forming that void necessary for the Spiritual Light to manifest itself.
When everything is forgiven, the etheric body becomes the body of love, the virtue of Love (or Charity) which embraces everything. The esotericist will have to follow this process, so that the etheric body can in the future become the body of love. The Second of Advent is therefore connected to the Feeling and the forces of the Son.
The Red Angel is the angel associated with the imagination of the Second of Advent: he is the angel of Love. He collects love with a basket woven with rays of sunlight, placing only that pure love which is then transformed into starlight by the angels and souls of the dead. In this imagination is mentioned the Mystery of Mercury, which is currently in a liquid state. Just as gold solidified at the moment when wisdom became a real possibility for the human being, then mercury will solidify at the moment when selfless love becomes a real possibility for the human being. Christ will permit this powerful alchemical transmutation, so that Earth can become a Star.
Red is the color of the blood element, the vehicle of the Self, which is the source of both selfhood and love. Therefore, red is the individuality. This animal juice will become, once purified through the sacrifice of personal egoism, like a vegetable juice, that is, perfectly transparent. It is on the Ancient Sun that the plant kingdom comes into being, just as the Sacrifice of Dominations moulds the germ of the etheric body.
Third of Advent
Man seeks the true reality that resides in the Spirit. The key to the Spirit and to all spiritual knowledge is sacrifice.
The Voice of Silence says, "I don't want to hurt anyone, I want to forgive everything."
Here is revealed what man yearns for, and only those who have set out on the narrow paths of sacrifice will be able to find: the Spirit. To make sacred is to make spirit, even where there is apparently none. Christ exhorts the disciples to admire the corpse of the dog on the roadside because its teeth, completely perfect in their whiteness, shine in its jaw. In this way even what offends us, such as the dog's corpse, becomes a reason for transmutation. I sacrifice my pain, that which makes my soul special, to forgive the one who hurt me.
Man can now see the result of the Silence that from the exterior of the world reaches into his soul, as well as the willingness to give. One has the contemplation of the effects of the first two weeks. The esotericist perceives how the astral body is penetrated by the virtue of Faith, prefiguring the body of faith. The Third of Advent is thus connected with Thinking and the forces of the Holy Spirit.
The White Angel is the angel associated with the Imagination of the Third of Advent: he is the angel of Illumination. Those who had given love to the Red Angel now receive the warmth of a ray of the Sun that the White Angel carries, like a spear. The Illumination of this angel leads to the inner vision of the child to be born. Now all those whose love had been transformed into starlight receive it again in the form of the warmth of the soul.
White is the colour of the purified astral body. It is on the Ancient Moon that the Sacrifice of Virtues forms the germ of the astral body of man. The Full Moon, with its silvery color, is the mirror of the cosmos that allows the light of the Sun to reach the Earth even at night: its whiteness indicates the degree of imitation of the Sun, which in man is equivalent, for the soul, to Imitatio Christi. Just as the Moon becomes a candid mirror, so the soul makes itself available to welcome the Sun of the Spirit.
Fourth of Advent
The man has found the road and is preparing to walk on it. This requires mastery of the earthly body. Only then can the Son of God awaken in man. The aspiration in this time is to make the Kingdom of God visible through oneself, through one's attitude and one's work in the world. We are the bearers of this eternal Spiritual Kingdom. The stages of Advent are stages of consciousness of the soul.
In order to master the earthly body, that is, the physical body filled with elementary matter, it is necessary that all bodies have been mastered in the previous weeks. Only in this way is it possible to approach the Twelve Holy Nights in a greater consciousness of the Self. Here, then, the conditions for the manifestation of the forces of Christ have been prepared: it is man and only man who can become the conscious bearer of Christ on Earth, "Christopher", transmuting the Earth, even in its material and dark component, rendering Evil, transmuting matter, into the future Spiritual Kingdom. This is how the season of Advent becomes the evolution of the human soul towards spiritual consciousness.
The esotericist has now laid the foundations for a conscious understanding of what will follow, so it is the ego that finally opens its eyes to the spiritual world.
The Purple Angel is the angel associated with the Imagination of the Fourth of Advent: he is the Angel of Peace. The Purple Angel plays a lyre with which she sings the message of God, which can be translated with the Gloria in Excelsis Deo "peace on Earth to men of Good Will", that is peace to those who have actively undertaken the spiritual path that leads to the full consciousness of the Ego. Those who have had eyes to see (imaginative knowledge) will now have ears to hear (inspirational knowledge), also allowing them to perceive what is given in the Twelve Holy Nights in the form of messages from the spiritual world. The song is a promise of the return of the Earth to the state of Paradise, which will take place in the Future Jupiter.
Purple is the color of devotion: it is the union of the red of human individuality, the microcosm, with the blue of the cosmos, the macrocosm. We have reached the last week of Advent, so we are at the Threshold of the Great Mystery that is recapitulated on Earth every year. Let us remember that the Solar Spirit descends from cosmic spaces and comes to dwell among people. Jesus of Nazareth was born and is about to become Christ at the Baptism of the Jordan. The individual Self comes to be born in man, his consciousness is heightened. The Men of Good Will are those who are more readily willing to accept this widening of consciousness and, overcoming suffering, see the Light that is hidden there.
Immagine tabella 4 settimane
But if before Christmas Eve, on December 24, it was possible for the esotericist to work with the help of the Masters of Wisdom, now, in the Thirteen Holy Nights, he cannot. The great souls (Mahatma) of the Masters of Wisdom retire to the East, returning only from January 7 onwards. This "East" has nothing to do with the Eastern world, but it means that the Masters return to the Eternal East, that is, that spiritual source from which all the manifestation of the Cosmic Day (Manvatara) springs, that is, they retreat into the Cosmic Night (Pralaya). It is in this sense that the Kings of the East, the Three Kings, set out to follow the Star of the East: being the initiated Magi of Zarathustra, they follow through clairvoyance the Self of their master who from the Eternal East returns to dwell among men, becoming incarnated in the Jesus of Matthew's Gospel, or Jesus Solomonic.
This is the time of year when it is desirable to pray and meditate, remembering the way of Abel. In fact, in the Community of Christians the Act of Consecration of Man is celebrated on each day of the Holy Nights. If absurdly we invoked the Masters in one of the Twelve Holy Nights, our sacrifice would be in vain and paradoxically would go in the opposite direction. This is because the Masters cannot pass the act of service to the Archangels. In fact, Steiner did not give lessons at the Esoteric School during this period. The entire cosmos is in suspension awaiting His coming.
We shall see that the Twelve Holy Nights represent both the post-mortem period (from December 24 to 31), and the redescence of the Ego toward a new incarnation (from January 1 to 6), plus a 13th Night which anticipates the whole year. So that the Four Weeks of Advent represent in condensed form the life of man incarnation, after incarnation, in the development from the physical, etheric, astral body to the Self, an event that will take place only one week after the Epiphany, with the recapitulation of Baptism in the Jordan. On 24 December, where Saint Eve and Saint Adam are celebrated, we are therefore on the threshold of Death at the hands of Arimane, who follows the Expulsion from Paradise at the hands of Lucifer.
You can continue with The 13 Holy Nights - Part Two: 1-6 January.
And then you can read the article on Le 13 Notti Sante - Part One: 24-31 December