by Ron Petrou
Christianity and reincarnation are usually considered to be mutually exclusive. However, in the worldview of Anthroposophy, which he formulated, Rudolf Steiner unites a deep understanding of the significance of Christ for the evolution of the earth with a recognition of the reality of repeated earth lives. His work has inspired the Christian Community Church, Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture and much more.
He developed the art of eurythmy, designed the Goetheanum and many other buildings, taught sculpture and painting, edited Goethe’s scientific writings, wrote four major plays and numerous books and verses, and gave over 6,000 lectures. Through his life story, one can follow Steiner’s own path of development, gain a feeling for his humanity as well as his accomplishments, and see how Christianity and reincarnation are not conflicting concepts but can live together in the soul of the striving spiritual seeker.
Sherry Wildfeuer will speak about Steiner and his philosophy and worldview at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Chestnut Hill Library, 8711 Germantown Ave. She explained, “The idea of reincarnation often conjures images of human beings having formerly existed as animals, or it implies a fatalistic view of destiny, denying us any freedom. However, in his book ‘Theosophy,’ Rudolf Steiner shared from his clairvoyant experience a very different picture.”
According to Steiner (1861-1925), “The physical body is subject to the laws of heredity. The human spirit, on the other hand, must reincarnate over and over again, and its law consists in having to carry the fruits of previous lifetimes over into the following ones. Our souls live in the present, although this life in the present is not independent of our previous lives . . . People to whom our souls were connected in one lifetime will necessarily encounter us again in a later one because the actions that took place between us must have their consequences.”
Wildfeuer goes on to say, “This view denies freedom no more than the reality that after a night of sleep we must face the consequences of the deeds of the previous day. Rather, it allows us to take responsibility for our self-created destiny.” Into this picture Steiner also introduces the idea that Christ has become “the Lord of Karma, guiding the process of compensation.”
Ms. Wildfeuer first met anthroposophy as a student at Bard College in 1966 and pursued her interest in biodynamic agriculture by working and studying with Alan Chadwick in Santa Cruz, CA, at the Goetheanum in Switzerland, and at Emerson College in England. She taught gardening in California at the Sacramento Waldorf School, and since 1973 she has been a co-worker in Camphill Village Kimberton Hills, an anthroposophical farming community in Kimberton, Chester County, that especially includes adults with disabilities. It is one of about 100 Camphill Communities worldwide.
Kimberton Hills provides social and vocational opportunities for people with varying levels of ability, serves its neighbors through its garden, its raw milk dairy, its Café, and through its artisan Sweetwater Bakery breads. The community is well known as an eco-village as well as a venue for live music.
Ms. Wildfeurer is the editor of “Stella Natura,” a biodynamic planting calendar, and is a long-time co-worker in Camphill Village in Kimberton. She has four adult children. The Philadelphia Forum for Anthroposophy, which is centered in Mt. Airy, is presenting Ms. Wildfeuer’s talk. For more information, call 267-421-7749.