The After-Image of Easter with Mary Stewart Adams 

This is a transcript of a spoken address given on April 2, Rudolf Steiner House, Ann Arbor, MI

Thank you so much. I’m going to begin with the same verse that we used when we started on vernal equinox with Brian, when he led us in the drawing of the Sun seal. And you’ll see behind me that I’m at the Steiner House in Ann Arbor, at 1923 Geddes Avenue. I have all the planetary seals behind me, as well as an image of the Zodiac with the eurythmy forms ~ that’s what’s in the backdrop.

I also have some wonderful community members and friends here live in the room. They won’t be seeing what you’re seeing on the screen, which means they’ll have to use their imaginations to follow along. But I’ll begin with this verse that Rudolf Steiner gave from Ephesus, and this was during the final Easter lectures that he gave in 1924, 100 years ago this month. This was on April 22, I believe, and we began here with this verse on March 19, and I’ll begin here again, now it is two days after Easter, April 2, 2024:

Cosmic-born being, thou clothed in light,
Strengthened by sun in the realm of moon’s might,

Blessed art thou by Mars’ creative ringing
And Mercury’s swiftness, mobility bringing,

Illumined by wisdom from Jupiter raying
And by Venus’s beauty, love portraying—

So that Saturn’s venerable spirit-ways
Might consecrate thee to the world of space and time.

I’m going to begin to share my screen, and start with describing how I’m going to proceed through my portion of our program: First, I’m going to talk a little bit about the festival rhythm, from Easter to Whitsunday; and then the human rhythm within that; and then look at the rhythm of the eclipses as they are occurring around this season, so that you get the sense of how I’m going to move through. So festival rhythm, then the human rhythm, and then the celestial, the eclipse rhythm.


First with the festival rhythm. Of course, we’ve just come through Easter, which happened on Sunday, March 31, 2024. And I have here on the screen the painting of the Resurrection from the Isenheim altarpiece (Matthias Grünewald, 1516). The beautiful harmony of what’s happening in the cosmic picture at Easter belongs to the fact that at the equinox time, when we met on March 19, the sun had just come above the celestial equator, but the moon was not yet Full, which means the moon was also traveling in the northern celestial hemisphere at that time. But then it came Full on March 25, a date that is traditionally celebrated as the Feast of the Annunciation. But this year, in the Roman Catholic Church at least, they will move this feast one octave, so it doesn’t occur during the Holy Week.

But on the 25th of March, the moon came Full, which means it had now moved below the celestial equator. And this is the cosmic configuration that indicates that now the Easter festival can happen, because now the moon has stepped down, it has as though yielded the throne of the northern sky to the sun. And Rudolf Steiner describes that there must be the right witness for the return of the sun at equinox each year, and that witness is the moon. After this Full Moon occurs, then we wait for the first Sunday for the celebration of Easter, which was March 31 this year. The moon on that day was in Scorpio (which it usually is), which is the first of the descending signs of the zodiac, and from Easter Sunday until the moon becomes New again, it will only move through the descending signs of the zodiac: Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, arriving at New phase among the stars of Pisces (on April 23).

This moon, which is witnessing the return of the sun, then reflects that light of the ascended sun, the resurrected light of the sun, into these descending forces of the zodiac. So beautiful, the harmony happening in that reality.

Then, during this time now, from Easter and for the next 40 days ~ just as we have 40 days from the beginning of the Lenten season until Easter ~ there will be 40 days from Easter until Ascension, which this year will happen on May 9. Ascension Day is always on a Thursday. And there’s an interesting rhythm of the moon that happens in that cycle, where it was Full during the Holy Week, it will always be waning at Easter time. Two weeks later, it will be New again. And then we go through one full cycle before we get to Ascension. And it’s then New phase again. This is another lecture for another time. But to look at the rhythm of the moon through this 40 days, particularly how it’s articulated in the Calendar of the Soul can be quite telling.

The image that I have on the screen now is of the Ascension as it was painted by Giotto in the 13th century. This comes from the Arena Chapel in Padua, and it has the blue background with the Christ in gold, ascending. And as Rudolf Steiner describes it, what’s happening at this moment is that the life forces of the human being are being secured by the Christ Being, for all of humanity. These two events, the Resurrection of the Christ at Easter, and the Ascension 40 days later, these are as though gifts given to humanity by the Christ Being.

But then the festival turns, and 10 days after the Ascension, we then have the observance of the Whitsun, or the Pentecost, the 50th day from Easter. The image that I have on the screen is by Jean Restout from the 17th century. This is at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. What Rudolf Steiner describes in his lectures about the Whitsun Mystery is that whereas with Easter, with the Resurrection and the Ascension, what is achieved is given to humanity, whether we are aware of this or not, whether we believe that this has occurred or not. The reality of the Resurrection and the Ascension of the Christ is something that belongs to every human being that incarnates on the earth.

But in order to enter into the Mystery of the Whitsun, this is not given. This is something that we have to cultivate within ourselves in relationship to these events, and to one another in community, in order for this Mystery to be realized. This is quite unique in this cycle of festivals that happen in the spring, that we have the first two that are as though a gift to the human being. But then the third, that is our gift back to the spiritual world, you could say. It’s the way that we bring nourishment.

The way that Rudolf Steiner describes how we can do that, to bring this gift and nourishment to the spiritual world, is that when we spend time in our lives striving to understand the Mystery of Easter and Ascension, the Mystery of Golgotha: What does it mean that this happened in Earth evolution? What does it mean in the life experience of the human being?

Each day we go to sleep, and then we wake ~ we go to sleep and we wake. And if we haven’t spent any time in our day cultivating an awareness of these mysteries, then eventually we have nothing to bring to the spiritual world when we cross the threshold in sleep at night. And the same would be true in death, so that when we die, if we have not spent any time in our life cultivating an awareness of this great mystery, this singular deed of the sun being on the earth, then we will have nothing to offer the spiritual world when we cross the threshold. And this will have devastating consequences for humanity with the earth.

So again, we have this Easter festival this year, March 31, followed 40 days later by the festival of Ascension on May 9, which is always a Thursday. And then 10 days later, Whitsun, this year it will be on May 19. And that’s always a Sunday. So just to get that sense of where we are in the rhythm of the cycle of the year. For the 40 days after Easter, the Christ Being teaches the Apostles what has just taken place, because although there had been centuries of preparation for this Mystery, when it occurred, the consciousness was not fully there amongst humanity, and even amongst those that were together with the Christ Being. So then a process of teaching begins, the highest teaching of which are these words spoken by the Christ in chapter 13 of the John Gospel:

A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another, as I have loved you,

that ye also love one another.

I hear an echo of this commandment in words that were spoken by Benedictus, or at least that were written for the character of Benedictus and Rudolf Steiner’s first mystery drama, the Portal of Initiation. In scene seven, Benedictus is speaking to Johannes and Maria, and he has these words to say ~ remembering also this new commandment from the Christ Being ~ Benedictus then says this:

Karma united you together, to unfold the forces that must serve the good.

And as you wander on the path of souls, Wisdom herself will teach you

that highest things can be achieved when souls who have given one another spirit-certainty

unite in faithfulness unto the world’s salvation.

Spirit-certainty, faithfulness, uniting, loving one another ~ these are the teachings, this is what we give to one another that allows us, in part, to realize the Whitsun Mystery. We receive from the Christ Being the fruits of the Mystery of the Resurrection, we receive the life forces that are secured through the Mystery of the Ascension. And then out of faithfulness, spirit-certainty, love ~ this can bring us an experience, not only of the reality of this Mystery in the world, but it’s the way that we nourish the gods.


Okay, part two, not that that was in any way exhausted. But just as a setup, and as a context for what I’d like to describe about what’s happening specifically this year.

So now, the human rhythm. That was our festival rhythm, and now the human rhythm. For those of you that are sitting here in the room, know that I have many, many words on the screen. I’m not going to read all of these words, but just to stay say that this comes from a lecture that Rudolf Steiner gave in January of 1909 entitled, The Rhythms in the Being of Man. In this lecture, Rudolf Steiner is talking about how to understand the rhythms of the different members of the human being: the ego body; the astral body; the etheric body; and the physical body. For the purposes of what I want to talk about this evening, I will focus on the astral rhythm.

The setup that he gives is that when we think about the ego nature of the human being, we consider the cycle of one 24-hour day ~ in every 24 hour cycle the human being will wake and sleep once. We’re awake during the day, then we go to sleep, and then we wake up, and you could say that’s the rhythm of one.

The astral rhythm, he describes, is different. It takes the astral body a little bit longer, in fact, seven times longer. The astral rhythm has this rhythm of about one week. And again, there are many, many words on this page, but I’m not going to read them all, just the very bottom of this paragraph:

If we look in the same way for the astral body’s corresponding rhythm,

we have to say that if the ordered regularity of the astral body is really there,

if there is ordered regularity in the astral body,

then the astral body returns to the same point every seven days.

So whilst the ego goes through its cycle in one day,

the astral body goes considerably slower, and carries out its cycle in seven days.

Just for the sake of giving fullness to it, I will share that he then describes the etheric rhythm ~ four times that seven ~ and then the physical, which he says is not as easy to describe, but it is approximately 10 times four times seven. So we get this one for the egoic rhythm; seven for the astral rhythm; 28 for the etheric rhythm; and then 280 for the physical rhythm. And you can hear numbers in there that belong to things that we know: one day; one week; one cycle of the moon; one human gestation. So these things belong to the rhythm of ego, astral, etheric, and physical.

Now I want to point to how this shows up in the New Testament. First, in the Gospel of Luke, chapter nine, the Feeding of the Multitude with five loaves and two fishes takes place. And then at verse 28 we read this:

And it came to pass, about an eighth day after the sayings, he took Peter and John and James,

and went up into a mountain. And as he prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered,

and his raiment was white, and glistering.

And behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias,

who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease,

which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

So the Feeding of the Multitude happens, and one astral rhythm later, the Transfiguration occurs. Again, this is a remarkable contemplation. I’m going to just introduce it and not describe it, only just to say that it’s quite specific, the amount of time between these two events.

Also, in the Gospel of John, Chapter 20, this is coming now after Easter Sunday, after the Resurrection has occurred, noting that Thomas was not there on the first Easter Sunday, but now he is:

And after eight days, again, his disciples were within, and Thomas now with them,

then came Jesus, the doors being shut and stood in the minutes and said, Peace be unto you.

So again, we have this interesting suggestion of an astral rhythm from the Resurrection. There’s Easter Sunday, then eight days later, the Christ appears again, and it’s the presence of Thomas that draws our attention. Thomas is not there on Easter Sunday, it’s very specific. But Thomas is there eight days later.

On the screen I am showing a statue of Thomas that’s at the St. Michel Cathedral in Brussels. Sorry for everyone in the room that you can’t see it. Thomas is standing with his hand as though asking a question, and what I also have here on the screen is from chapter 11, Gospel of John, in which Thomas is introduced as Didymus. This is the scene where the Christ Being has just received the news that his friend Lazarus has died, and he is explaining this to the Apostles: Our friend, Lazarus sleepeth. But they don’t really understand what he’s saying. So he says it to them plainly:

Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there

to the intent that ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus unto his fellowdisciples,

Let us go, that we may die with him.

This is a setup for understanding Thomas, in part. Lazarus has died. The Christ Being is explaining that he will go to see Lazarus, and it’s about believing this is happening, so that you will have belief. This is the beginning of a development of faith; this is the beginning of a development of spirit-certainty. The things that have been told unto you are being demonstrated, and the first one to speak after the Christ Being says this mystery I’m about to perform is happening on your account, is Thomas! Thomas, who says: let us go also, with, you could say, a kind of fiery enthusiasm and dedication toward this mystery and toward the Christ Being.

The name Thomas comes from the Aramaic and it means twin. This is also the meaning of the word Didymus in Greek. In the New Testament, in the John Gospel, Thomas is always introduced as Thomas, who was called Didymus. So, twice he is named, as Thomas and Didymus, and both names mean twin. So, there’s something really lovely going on with Thomas. And this, I’ll call it a duality, but really I’d like to stay with the imagery of the twin, because it starts to show itself what that mystery might mean.

Here is the full rendering of the John Gospel verse, chapter 20, where there’s a description of Thomas not being present at the Resurrection, and how he then speaks in disbelief. But recall, he’s first to rally at the mystery of the raising of Lazarus, he doesn’t know that Lazarus is going to be raised, but he’s the first one to say let us go. But then, he’s not there at the Resurrection, and he’s the one that says, I don’t believe that this actually happened. He’s already witnessed that Lazarus has been raised from the dead, and yet, for the Christ to be raised, he says, these words:

But Thomas, one of the 12, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came,

the other disciples therefore said unto him, we have seen the Lord,

but he said unto them,

 Thomas said unto them,

Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails,

and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side,

I will not believe.

Then there is the description of this astral rhythm of eight days, and again, the disciples are within. Now Thomas is there, and the Christ Being appears, saying:

Peace be unto to you.

And then to Thomas:

Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands,

 and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side,

and Be not faithless, but believing.

Now, what’s really remarkable about this is that this is one astral rhythm after the Resurrection, when the Magdalene is the first one to encounter the risen Christ, and at first she doesn’t recognize him. And there’s this lovely description how twice she has to turn herself. She’s not turning around physically, but something in her has to turn to recognize this mystery. And the Christ Being says to her at this moment, Touch me not. One astral rhythm later, eight days later, He says unto Thomas:

Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side.

This is an interesting mystery that’s happening in this first week, within which we now find ourselves. The Resurrection festival has occurred on Sunday ~ for us it was the 31st of March and we are just two days from that. And on the eighth day, we’re going to have the very interesting experience of a Total Solar Eclipse.

But before we get there, one more thing I’d like to show: This is an image of Beatrice and Dante as they are ascending into the eighth heaven of the fixed stars. This is a scene in which Dante describes that, after moving through the seven heavens of the planetary spheres, they mount up into the region of the stars at Gemini, which is the region of the twins. So remembering that the name Thomas Didymus, this means twin. The Twins in the constellations of the zodiac are known as Gemini, and Dante does something really beautiful in the canto when this begins to happen, especially remembering what the Christ Being says to Thomas. Dante writes this:

Reader, I tell thee, as I hope to meet

the triumph of God’s holy ones again,

whence, weeping for my sins, my breast I beat,

Thrust thou thy finger in the flame ~ for pain,

thou’lt snatch it out, but not so fast as I

saw and was in the heaven of the Twain.

O stars of glory, from whose light on high

a mighty virtue poureth forth to you,

I owe such genius as doth in me lie.

So oftentimes it’s described that Dante did this because he was born when the sun was in Gemini, but he’s pointing very specifically at Thomas, as the twin, thrusting the finger. He also goes on to describe that he’s going to now be tested in the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. And in this canto in the Paradise (XXIII), the first virtue while he’s in the region of Gemini stars, he is going to be tested by Peter on the theological virtue of faith, faithfulness.

When Rudolf Steiner is aligning the virtues, noting that he didn’t create the virtues, but he aligned them to the constellations of the zodiac, he aligned the virtue faithfulness to Gemini. Gemini is the twins. Thomas, Didymus these names mean twin. Dante mounts into the eighth sphere of the heavens at Gemini and is tested on faithfulness. So this teaching of faithfulness and spirit-certainty and love and uniting with one another comes during this 40 days from the Easter Mystery until Ascension, when the Christ then secures the etheric or life forces for the human being. And then we must exhibit this faith unto one another, to fulfill the mystery in the Whitsun.


The third part is concerned with the fact that we’re in an eclipse season. And the vernal Full Moon this year on March 25 was a penumbral eclipse, visible if you had the right weather conditions and the right sense of what the moon looks like at penumbral eclipse. The penumbra is the outer edge of the earth’s shadow. Then on April 8, we’re going to have a total eclipse of the sun. So Rudolf Steiner, in describing the Spiritual Individualities of the Planets in July of 1923, does not speak specifically about eclipses, but he talks about the nature of the sun, and that we cannot really understand the sun unless we consider it in its soul, spirit nature:

The sun is, as it were, the flame in which freedom becomes a luminous reality in the universe.

And at the same time, the sun is the substance in which, as condensed ashes, our misused freedom is molded into Destiny, until Destiny itself can become luminous,

 and pass over into the flame of freedom.

Misused freedom as condensed ashes. This image suggests to me that there must be a moment when the sun is gathering up the misused freedom. And I have a question: is it possible that this is what’s happening during a solar eclipse?

Now, in the context of describing eclipses, Rudolf Steiner explains how we experience the light that streams toward us from the moon, and that this is connected to new souls coming to birth. But then on the rays of the sun, something else is happening. On the rays of the sun can be experienced how the dead travel back into the spiritual world, after they’ve crossed the threshold out of life. So we have this streaming down toward us with the moon, and the streaming from earth back to the spiritual world on the rays of the sun.

But then when an eclipse happens, something different takes place. When the moon moves through the shadow of the earth, then thoughts stream down in darkness. When the moon is New, and it stands in front of the sun, Rudolf Steiner describes that rather than just the dead traveling back into the spiritual world, it is the unbridled forces of human will streaming out. So you could say that this is the substance of misused freedom, taken up for us by the sun at Solar Eclipse and molded into the forces of destiny, to be given back to us so we can try again and again. Perseverance becomes faithfulness ~ to not be taken down by our misfortunes or our failings, but to try again and again. And this is not to suggest that this will happen in the course of one life between death and birth, but this happens over long periods of time.

This is an image (on the screen) of a total solar eclipse, just at the moment that the moon is moving in totally, and you have this diamond flash of light. This is why it’s so important to not look directly at a solar eclipse without protective eye gear. Again, long passage on the screen, I’m not going to read the whole thing. But this comes from Rudolf Steiner’s lecture on Christ in the Spiritual World, the Quest for the Holy Grail from 1913. And in lecture six, Rudolf Steiner is describing in a very personal way how he researched the story of Parsifal. And it really doesn’t do it justice for me to just pull out this part, but I want us to hold this imagination about what he’s describing about the moon. Here he’s describing the light of the sun, and the sickle of the moon, and how, when we see that kind of a moon, when the conditions are right, you can see the physicality of the moon lit up by the physical rays of the sun. And then you see a dark disc as though sitting in that chalice sickle of the moon.

But what’s important to me in this particular passage is that he’s describing that the spiritual power of the sun, not the physical rays, but the spiritual power of the sun cannot be held back by the moon. This suggests to me that when we have the experience of a solar eclipse, when the moon passes directly in front of the sun, the moon does not have the capacity to block the spiritual power of the sun. So it’s possible that at a solar eclipse, we are actually having a direct experience of the spiritual nature of the sun. And lucky us that it happens only for a few moments. The eclipse coming on April 8 will last just over four minutes. It’s almost unbearable to have that direct experience of the sun.

So while it looks to us physically like we’re having anything but sunlight because the moon is blocking the sun, actually, the moon, at least in this particular description by Rudolf Steiner, does not have the capacity to resist the spiritual power of the sun:

In the dark of the moon, we are looking at the spiritual power of the sun.

I’m going to just cite the passage where Rudolf Steiner discusses the nature of solar and lunar eclipses, which was in June of 1922, in the lectures Human Questions, Cosmic Answers. And like this year, the vernal Full Moon in 1922 was eclipsed. Rudolf Steiner spoke about eclipses in that year, at St. John’s time. And in this particular passage, this is where he tells us that eclipses are there as a safety valves to avert danger, so it’s not a negative. It’s a very specific thing that comes rhythmically, that has its place.

In the cycle of every year, we will have two eclipse seasons, with up to six eclipses a year. We’ve just had a lunar eclipse on March 25. We’ll have a solar eclipse on April 8, and this is the eighth day after Easter 2024. Eight days after Easter ~ one astral rhythm from Easter 2024, and we will have a total solar eclipse, where the moon appears to stand in front of the physical sun. And yet we can have an imagination that we will have a direct experience of the spiritual power of the sun, holding the imagination that it’s eight days after the Resurrection of the Christ, when Thomas first experiences the Christ Being and the lesson and the teaching that comes with Thomas has to do with faithfulness, and spirit-certainty. Love one another, believe.

When the moon blocks the sun, and we aren’t seeing the physical light of the sun, the sky darkens ~ it doesn’t become as dark as night, but the color definitely shifts, and the first thing that appears is the planet Venus. I have here on the screen a detail of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus because in that moment, when we are as though having a direct experience of the spiritual power of the sun, the planet that represents love and beauty is there. We are never bereft, we are never without, we are never left alone, even when it looks in the physical world, even when it looks like the light of the sun is blocked by our moon ~ Venus is there. And also, bearing in mind this description that comes from Rudolf Steiner, that the moon does not have the capacity to block the spiritual power of the sun.

This year’s eclipse rhythm relative to Easter, which happened on March 31, we will have the total eclipse of the sun on April 8, so eight days later. It’s eight days after the Feeding of the Multitude that the Transfiguration occurs. It’s eight days after Easter that Thomas has his encounter with the Christ Being.

Then to close where I started:  

Karma united you together to unfold the forces that must serve the good.

And as you wander on the path of souls, Wisdom herself will teach you

that highest things can be achieved

when souls who have given one another spirit-certainty

 unite in faithfulness unto the world’s salvation.

Thank you.

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