It must be stated, that all the experiments carried out so far, had not been undertaken with the purpose of finding these strange phenomena. They were undertaken solely to study objectively the various changes happening in the formative forces:(a) during day or night, (b) during the course of a year. The result obtained was unsought for and unexpected. But since then, of course special attention has been paid to Easter, St. John’s Festival (Mid-summer), Michaelmas (September or Autumn Festival) Christmas (the 13 holy nights) representing four great festivals connected with the Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. Incredible as it may seem, experiments carried out during these times show changes which lift them out from the ordinary course of the year. Year after year, something happens in nature which is reflected in various substances like Silver nitrate, Gold chloride and others, which cannot be explained scientifically with changes of temperature, or humidity in the atmosphere, or differences of light. Once more we emphasize, that before we are justified in making such a statement, it is necessary to make all the experiments with all the various substances and their combinations, every day and every night, for many years without interruption. The Work has to be done by the same person at Easter and Christmas, at Midsummer and Michaelmas, day and night. One must dedicate oneself completely to this task. It is also obvious that these experiments can only be carried out in an attitude of devotion and reverence towards the great cosmic laws.
The Easter Festival
The Easter Festival is a movable festival, in fact the only movable festival;the first Sunday after the Full Moon which occurs after the Spring Equinox. We still look towards the stars when Easter Sunday is fixed. From time to time attempts are made to break with this old tradition and to “reform” the calendar, in order to adapt it to our present day needs. It is inconvenient from a business standpoint to have to deal with a movable Easter Festival. The question arises: What is the background of such an old tradition? How far can we trace it? Is modern man justified in keeping these traditions, or ought he to dismiss them altogether and arrange his calendar more conveniently?
In the Easter Festival we commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ.But can we trace historically the date of the Last Supper? The Bishop of Birmingham studied this possibility and we find it expounded in his recent book: “The Rise of Christianity” on page 150 under the headline: “The Last Supper.” It seems that nothing but uncertainties are the outcome of such historical researches. Dr. Barnes states, that it is a curious fact (page 74) that we have no certain knowledge either of theyear in which Jesus was born, or of the year when he died. The data by which the two years must be determined are scanty and confused. On page 153 the Bishop of Birmingham comes to the conclusion: “What matters in our inquiry is, that from itwe realize that we can have little certainty as to the circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. Early Christians supplemented their ignorance by allowing religious imagination to clothe the bare stark fact of the death of their Lord. Such a suggestion is repugnant to many, but, if the crucifixion story as it stands is drama and not history,it is, at least, drama shaped by the great art that can result from love, reverence and tears. According to the synoptic tradition, the fifteenth day of Nisan, in the year of the crucifixion of Jesus, fell on a Friday. It might be thought that this fact—if it bea fact—would furnish a clue to the year in which his crucifixion took place. Experts,however, seem to be agreed that there are too many uncertainties connected with the Jewish calendar to allow of satisfying argument. The Quartodeciman Easter, as we have said coincided with the Jewish Passover. The synoptic Easter, on the other hand,commemorated the Resurrection which took place, according both to the synoptic story and to the Johannine, on the Sunday following the Friday of the Crucifixion.Sunday rapidly became the Lord’s Day; and the great Sunday of the year was Easter Day.”
This is what a representative of the Church finds in his historical enquiries: nothing but uncertainties. The methods of historical research do not yield more,apparently.
Rudolf Steiner, the inaugurator of the Anthroposophical Movement, gave many lectures during his life about the great festivals of the year, especially the Easter Festival. Some of these lectures have been translated into English and can be studied by anybody who wishes to do so. I suggest “Easter as a chapter of the Mystery Wisdom of Man” 1924, or: “Four Seasons and the Archangels’ 1923,” but above all I wish I could quote extensively from the lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in Dornach (Switzerland) between the 31st March and 7th April, 1923. The title of these lectures, which are not translated to my knowledge, is: Der Jahreskreislauf als Atmungsvorgang der Erde, Die vier grossen Festeszeiten des Jahres. Wie wird aus Natur-Erkenntnis Geist Erkenntnis. (The course of the year—a breathing process of Earth. The four great Festivals of the Year. How can the knowledge of Nature become a knowledge of Spirit?)
Here we find a true knowledge which helps man to understand the great festivals as spiritual, cosmic facts.
The year 1943 presented us with a very interesting problem. The Astronomer Royal and the Church held different opinions concerning the date of Easter Sunday.According to the Astronomer Royal the first Sunday after Full Moon after the Spring Equinox fell on March 28th [Spring Equinox, 21st March, at 0h. 3m. p.m. Full Moon, 21st March, 10h. 8m. p.m.] That means Easter should have been early in 1943. The Church Tradition ruled that the Full Moon which had to be considered as the Easter Moon fell a month later and therefore Easter Sunday was fixed by the Church authorities to be on April 25th, 1943.
- V – EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIMENTS WHICH MAY BE OBSERVED DURING THE COURSE OF A YEAR
- VII – PECULIARITIES IN THE MANIFESTATION OF THE FORMATIVE FORCES IN MATTER